The very first step in cooking and baking is to read the recipe all the way through, from
beginning to end, before you begin. This way you will know that you have all the
ingredients and tools on hand. You will also be able to look up terms you don't understand
so cooking proceeds smoothly.
Most good recipes start with the ingredient list, and the ingredients are listed in the
order they are used. In this case, the topping is mixed first because breads and cakes
that use baking powder need to go into the oven quickly after being mixed. If batters
sit at room temperature before baking, the baking powder will keep reacting and the
carbon dioxide produced can't be captured by the unbaked batter. And the cake or bread
will not rise as high.
Measurements in baking recipes are critical. When a recipe calls for a tablespoon or
teaspoon, the author means for you to use actual measuring utensils, not spoons that you
use for eating and serving. Here's a basic chart of measures and equivalents. For our
purposes, these are the abbreviations I use that are fairly standard. For more baking and
cooking definitions be sure to check out the Definitions page.
- tbsp = tablespoon
- tsp = teaspoon
- oz = ounce
After you have read the recipe, gather all the ingredients, pots, pans, bowls, and
measuring utensils you will need. Go slowly and double check all the steps and ingredients.
When you are baking, dry ingredients and liquid ingredients are measured using different
sets of utensils. Dry ingredient measures are usually plastic or metal. Liquid ingredient
measures are usually glass, with a pouring spout and marks along the side of the cup. It's
important to use the correct measuring utensil when baking.
So let's look at the recipe below for Quick Coffeecake. The words in
bold are explained in the text
below the recipe.
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp butter, softened
1-1/2 cups chopped nuts
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup salad oil
2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 375°degrees. Grease a 13x9" pan and
In medium bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon and butter and cream
together until blended.
Crack eggs into large bowl and beat with a fork until combined. Add milk and mix well
with wire whisk or eggbeater. Add sugar and oil and mix with a whisk until
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to egg mixture and
mix with a spoon for 20-30 strokes just until combined and all dry ingredients
are moistened. Pour batter into a prepared 13x9" pan.
Bake at 375° degrees for 25-35 minutes until puffed and
golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center
comes out clean. Serve warm.
The body of the recipe contains the instructions about combining and heating the
ingredients. In the coffeecake recipe above:
- Packed brown sugar. Brown sugar
must be pressed firmly into the measuring cup, then unmolded. The sugar should hold the
shape of the cup when it's released.
- Butter is so