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Thumb_2379396587_07510b951dWhat's the point of sifting flour?

Thumb_2379396587_07510b951dWhat's the point of sifting flour?

Originally, the point of sifting flour used to be to remove lumps and the occasional insect, although modern flour is generally free of those concerns. If you don't buy pre-sifted flour, sifting can still be a good idea for a number of reasons. First, it loosens up flour that has been sitting around in storage for a long time, aerating it and helping your baked goods to have a lighter texture. It's also a good idea to sift flour if you are combining it with other ingredients, such as salt, baking powder or soda, or cocoa powder, to give the mixture a homogeneous texture. Flour can be sifted either with an old-fashioned sifter, or by shaking flour through a sieve. Dry ingredients can also be whisked together with a wire whisk in a pinch, which also helps lighten up the flour.  Nevertheless, some people think that sifting flour is a pain, and skip it altogether, claiming they don't notice the difference. Do you? Recipe: Sour Cream Bundt Cake (VeganYumYum) Recipe: Banana Hazelnut Upside-Down Cake (Hogwash)

Thumb_451588375_6d7f0894f8_oWhat's the difference between white and brown eggs?

Thumb_451588375_6d7f0894f8_oWhat's the difference between white and brown eggs?

Don't judge an egg by its shell. Whether an eggshell is white or brown is determined by the breed of the hen who laid the eggs. It has absolutely nothing to do with taste or nutritional value. The only time you may want to consider the color of the eggs you're buying is around Easter and Passover time, since white eggs work better for dyeing and decorating purposes.

Thumb_2964153121_8dcb70340bWhat does it mean to grease something?

Thumb_2964153121_8dcb70340bWhat does it mean to grease something?

To grease a pan means to coat it in some sort of protective shortening or fat -- usually butter -- to prevent whatever you are cooking from sticking.  Greasing has fallen out of favor with the demonization of fat and in the advent of non-stick pans, parchment paper, non-stick cooking sprays and silicone baking liners and tins. While it's not always necessary to grease a cookie sheet or a cake tin, you have no choice if you want your soufflé to rise.

Thumb_2508213089_c0fbef83beWhat is a Blenheim apricot?

Thumb_2508213089_c0fbef83beWhat is a Blenheim apricot?

Blenheim apricots are prized fruits grown in the Santa Clara Valley region of California. Similar to a Royal apricot, and sometimes called Royals or Royal Blenheims, the Blenheim is small, with a greenish tint that sometimes makes people mistakenly think it isnt ripe. Blenheims have been grown in the region for more than 100 years but have become harder to find in recent decades, displaced by more early ripening, bigger and heartier apricot varieties. Because they are delicate and hard to ship, you're most likely to find Blenheims at the farmers market. When they are in season, Blenheims are notoriously delicious fresh, and work well for canning, drying, baking or making jams. 

Thumb_2818046328_dc189519c0Meet the sugars

Thumb_2818046328_dc189519c0Meet the sugars

Once a prize kept under lock and key in wealthy households, sugar is now ubiquitous and comes in many forms. Most commercial sugar is made from cane or beet root. Here's a look at the most common types of sugar used in the kitchen. Granulated white sugar: White sugar is highly refined and made from sugarcane or beets. This all-purpose refined white sugar has small but fairly coarse crystals and is used to sprinkle on food, sweeten beverages, or add to dishes during cooking. Golden granulated sugar is a brown sugar made from sugar cane molasses that is similar but has a light brown color. Castor (caster) or superfine sugar: This refined white sugar has fine crystals that dissolve more quickly than regular granulated sugar, making it a good choice for baking meringues. Golden castor sugar is made from unrefined cane sugar. Brown sugar: Brown sugar is nothing more than white sugar that has been mixed with molasses to color it and give it a moist texture. Light brown sugar has less molasses than dark brown sugar. Brown sugar should not be confused with raw sugar, which has a similar color and taste but is actually the residue from processed sugarcane. Turbinado sugar: A sugar cane extract that is made by steaming unrefined raw sugar. It has large crystals and a slight molasses flavor. It's a shade paler than brown sugar and can be substituted for brown sugar in recipes. We like to use turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top of muffins, cookies and scones. It holds its texture well and, when cooked, has a nice sweet crunch. Demerara Sugar: True Demerara sugar is raw or partly refined sugar with large crystals, but some impostors are nothing more than white sugar stained with molasses. Muscovado Sugar: This raw cane sugar comes in light and dark varieties and is used to make cakes and desserts. Powdered, icing or confectioner's sugar: This sugar is made by reducing granulated sugar to a powder and mixing it with starch to prevent it from lumping up. It's used to decorate cakes and can also be used in making sweet dishes and baked goods.

Thumb_2244578006_e44cfc9d9eRoot Source: Unsalted Butter

Thumb_2244578006_e44cfc9d9eRoot Source: Unsalted Butter

what you should know Unsalted butter is always equally unsalted, but salted butter is never quite salted the same. The NaCl uncertainty is the main reason we prefer to use unsalted butter when we cook. Often that salt can subdue the sweet flavor of butter. (Unsalted butter is often labeled as "sweet butter.") salt conversion In most recipes, the little extra salt will go unnoticed. Still, as a general rule if a recipe calls for unsalted butter but all you've got is salted butter, cut 1/4 teaspoon of salt per stick of butter (1/2 cup) you use. stick it up Salt acts as a preservative for butter. Tightly wrapped in foil and stored in the fridge, salted butter can last for five months, while unsalted butter lasts about three before going stale. (Spot stale butter by slicing into the stick; the outside will be darker than the inside.) Then again, many people don't store butter in the fridge to begin with. cooking with butter Sometimes, when you want a nuttier flavor, you'll want to let the butter's foam subside. But butter has a low smoke point, so be careful using it as your cooking fat. It'll burn easily. Clarified butter, or ghee, has a higher smoke point (and also makes a tasty dipping sauce for crab, lobster and anything else). roux-dimentary Butter forms the foundation for countless classic sauces and thickeners, including béchamel, beurre manié and roux. what you need Have you ever wanted to make fresh butter at home? This traditional butter churn is based on the famous Dazey churn from the early 20th century. You can also make a small batch of butter by putting cream in a jar and shaking it for a long, long time until you've shaken it solid. The water-cooled crock owners we know swear by the constant supply of creamy, spreadable butter they keep on their tables. Other butter lovers who shun the refrigerator prefer the classic rectangular butter dish. what you do Sage and butter are absolutely delicious together. How delicious? Try this rich and pillowy tortellini with sage brown butter and parmesan to find out. Steamy Kitchen likes to top her slow butter- braised asparagus with parmesan and sea salt. With that savory finale, you definitely don't need salted butter. Drizzling roasted sweet potatoes with cilantro-lime butter gives them a burst of tart richness. Salted butter might interfere with the complex sugar-spice interaction in these orange-scented popovers with cinnamon-orange honey. These better-for-you whole-grain flapjacks from hogwash are made with quinoa, millet and flaxseed. After using butter to grease the pan, you can afford to use a little extra on the cakes themselves. Coconut & Lime's worked out one of the fastest and tastiest cinnamon bun recipes out there.

Thumb_toolsBaking soda vs. baking powder

Thumb_toolsBaking soda vs. baking powder

Both baking soda and baking powder are leaveners, which means they make cakes and muffins rise. So what's the difference? Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. Not only will baking soda fluff up your muffins, it can also put out a grease fire, clean your teeth and deodorize your carpet. When you cook with baking soda, you need to balance it out with an acid like lemon juice or buttermilk. Otherwise, your muffins may have a bitter, soapy flavor. Baking powder, which usually comes in a can, is a combination of baking soda and a few other ingredients, most notably cream of tartar, a dry acid. Out of baking powder? Make your own by mixing one part baking soda with two parts cream of tartar.