Cooking Glossary

When looking for inspiration and new recipes, you are likely to come across a range of terms and words associated with cooking and baking. Whilst some are pretty self-explanatory: stir and mix. There are others that may leave you scratching your head. I have compiled this helpful glossary of terms to assist you in all your cooking and baking endeavors. When I first started to cook for my family I followed a lot of recipes that I found in books and on the internet. Whilst I was comfortable when it came to the basis – mixing and cutting, for example, there were a whole host of words (mainly the ones below) that I found myself having to look up as I prepared recipes.

Cream

This is often found at the start of cake and biscuit recipes when you are instructed to ‘cream together butter and sugar’. This term refers to beating ingredients together until they are light and fluffy. 

Fold

When working with recipes that require a gentle hand, or the preservation of air, the term ‘fold’ is often used to refer to the action needed in order to combine ingredients. Folding requires you to scrape down through the mixture, run the spoon or spatula beneath it and then come up and over the top of it. 

Knead

This is a term most often associated with bread making, but is also found in some pastry and biscuit recipes. The purpose of kneading changes depending on the recipe, but in general it is used to mix and activate ingredients. In the case of bread, gluten in the flour needs to be kneaded in order to make it elastic and allow the bread to rise and give a good consistency. Kneading generally consists of turning and pressing a ball of dough with the heel of your hands. Kneading can take a bit of time to get right, so don’t be worried if your first few attempts at bread don’t turn out as you would like. When it comes to kneading, you will get better at it the more you do it. 

Pare

You will encounter this term when working with fruits and vegetables. It refers to the process of removing the outside skin. 

Pit

This means to remove the stones from a fruit and is a term often found in jam making.

Scald

This term, which is not seen very frequently in my experience, refers to heating milk until it is just below boiling point. The way to tell if milk has been successfully scalded is to look for the formation of small bubbles at the edge of the pan where the liquid meets the pan’s edge. 

Well

A term found often in bread and pastry making, this refers to creating a ‘hole’ in the dry ingredients into which wet ingredients are poured. This allows for the slow and thorough integration of the wet and dry ingredients that are being used. 

I hope that these terms are useful, and that the glossary is something that you will refer to when making meals and treats for your family and friends. I make a point of ensuring that I use these terms when I am cooking with my children so that they learn them in the early days of their cooking education!