Tips For The Beginning Cook

Rolling PinHere you will find the basics-How to measure, what kind of flour to use when the recipe doesn’t say, what 2 cups, divided means. A good start for beginners and a good review for the rest of us!A recipe is a step-by-step guide and set of instructions to help you turn a pile of stuff into something good to eat. Hopefully, when it’s finished it looks something like the picture in the cookbook and not like one of those burnt offerings from the Old Testament.

If you’re new to reading them, recipes can be confusing, but with a few pointers, soon you’ll be able to understand them. Let’s look at a few common elements in a recipe, and I’ll shed some light on what the directions given in a recipe mean.

Flour — Flour is called for quite often. Use the type of flour the recipe calls for, especially if you’re a beginner. If the recipe calls for cake flour, use it. If the recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, sifted, it means to measure out 1 cup and then sift it. If it says 1 cup of sifted flour, this means sift it first and then measure 1 cup.

Eggs — Unless the recipe calls for a specific size, assume that all eggs called for are Grade A large. Using medium or extra-large eggs will sometimes throw a recipe off. If a recipe calls for 3 eggs, separated, that means to separate the yolks and the whites, usually so that the whites can be beaten. To separate the eggs, start with cold ones. I use an egg separator, a little $2 or less plastic gizmo to do the dirty work. Let the whites slide down into a large glass or bowl. If you’re going to whip the whites, make sure none of the yolk gets in the white or it won’t whip. Also, make sure the bowl or glass you catch the whites in is glass or metal, not plastic.

Nuts–If the recipe calls for 1 cup of nuts, chopped, then you measure whole nuts and then chop. If it says 1 cup of chopped nuts, chop then measure.

Divided ingredients — Sometimes when a recipe calls for nuts or raisins, you’ll see that it will also call for so many cups of flour, divided. This is a clue to look farther down in the recipe. It will generally tell you to leave out a small amount of the flour to use to coat the nuts with when you mix in the rest of the flour into the batter. This little trick will keep the nuts from sinking to the bottom of the batter when they are added in.

Hopefully, this will clear up the confusion about how to accurately read baking recipes for the beginning cooks out there. Cooking from recipes is fun and a great way to add some variety to weekly menus.

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