Cooking Terms

Cooking and Baking Terms


Process of allowing air to be incorporated into ingredients to make them lighter.


mayonnaise sealed with garlic.

Al Dente:

Used often for describing cooked pasta, it is when pasta is cooked so it offers slight resistance when bitten into.

All-Purpose Flour:

Wheat-based flour that is plain and white in appearance. It is a blend of hard and soft wheat and it can be used for many different purposes such as for noodles, cookies, cakes, quick breads, and yeast breads.

Aluminized Steel:

Steel that has been hot dip coated on both sides with aluminum-silicon alloy. The commercial baker's material preference for bakeware for its heavy-gauge construction and resistance to corrosion.

Amaranth Flour:

Gluten-free and protein-rich flour that comes from seeds of the Amaranth plant.


Silicone-based nonstick coating that is PFOA, BPA, and PTFE free. Premium nonstick coatings exclusive to the USA Pan brand.


The hydration rest period after the initial mixing of flour and water that serves to give bread a better shape, texture, rise, and flavor. Over-kneading bread exposes the dough to oxidation, which can introduce unintended colors and flavors to bread. Simply combine flour and water until no dry flour remains and let the mixture sit or "rest" to allow autolysis to occur.

Baine Marie:

A pan is placed into a heated bath of hot water for slow cooking.


To cook food with dry heat without exposure to a flame. Usually in an oven.

Baker's Percentage:

Percentages that are calculated relative to how much flour is used in a recipe. Therefore, values, when added up, can exceed 100%. For instance, let's say a recipe calls for 100 grams of flour, 50 grams of water, 10 grams of butter, and 5 grams of salt. The bakers percentages would then be: 100% flour, 50% water, 10% butter, and 5% salt, which adds up to a total percentage of 165%.


Term used to describe baking tools and utensils such as baking sheets, baking pans, and baking dishes.

Baking Blind:

Partially or fully cooking a pastry case in the oven without filling.


A basket that helps provide the structure bread during the proofing process.


A technique used for moistening the surface of roasted meat with juices and melted fat.


Liquid mixture of flour with wet and dry ingredients.


Stir together ingredients to add air into a mixture. This is usually accomplished by rapid circular motions with a whisk, mixer, or wooden spoon.

Benching Bread:

The step after fermentation where the gluten is relaxed. This helps the gluten strands in the dough be able to stretch without tearing.

Bias Slice:

A knife-cutting technique where slices are not straight across, but are at a 45 degree angle.


A Pre-ferment or bread starter used to bake Italian breads such as ciabatta. Starters usually are a simple mixture of yeast, water, and flour. After mixing, it ferments and can sometimes be used as a substitute or supplement to yeast during the baking process. Biga is typically drier than some other wet starters. Breads with starters tend to have enriched flavors and textures as compared to breads baked with other leavening methods.


Thickening sauces, soups, or other hot liquids with cream, egg, flour, or butter.


Cooking process of putting food, usually a fruit or vegetable, into boiling water, then plunging it into iced water or cold water to stop the cooking process. This is used to either whiten or soften food, or to remove strong flavors from cabbages or onions.


Mixing two or more ingredients very thoroughly to the point where it appears to look like one ingredient.


In the use of bread baking, refers to a risen loaf with golden brown crust. In the use of chocolate, refers to when chocolate bars are exposed to air for a long period of time and has a light amount of white coating.


A traditional French bread that resembles the shape of a ball.

Buttercream Icing:

Icing that is a mixture of butter and powdered sugar.


Meat and/or vegetables that are slow cooked with a small amount of liquid. Dishes that braised are pot roasts and stews.

Broil :

Cooking food that is exposed to direct high heat. Either above the food or undernath.


Heating of sugars that result in nutty flavors and brown coloration. Different sugars have different temperatures at which the caramelization reaction proceeds.


A conical strainer or sieve that is used to strain soups, sauces, custards, and purees. It can also be used to dust baked items with powdered sugar or other powdered ingredients.


To cut into small pieces.


To stir together multiple ingredients until they are mixed.

Convectional Oven:

Can be gas or electric. The hot air is usually circulated by a fan.

Conventional Oven:

Can be gas or electric. The heat source is stationary, usually originating from the bottom of the oven.

Cookie Sheet:

A flat, rectangular sheet pan classically used to bake cookies. A very popular baking sheet used in commercial bakeries.


Stock Pots, Skillets, and other cooking tools that are used to cook sauces, soups, and other savory food items.

Cooling Rack:

A wire rack, usually metal, that is used to allow air circulation to cool baked goods. The tight mesh framework should be close enough together to prevent items from falling through.


Baking technique of beating ingredients, usually butter, sugar, or eggs, until it is a soft and fluffy mixture.

Cream Cheese Icing:

icing that is usually a mixture of butter, cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla.


To seal or fold edges of dough using a fork or fingertips, usually creating rounded edges. A technique often used for pastries, pie crusts, calzones, and pizza dough.


A physio-chemical process that occurs when ingredients separate into curds or clumps. Curdling is often an undesirable quality in sauces and mixtures that typically results from rapid heating, overly high temperatures, or too much exposure to salt and acid.

Cut In:

A mixing method used to finely divide and distribute fat throughout a dry ingredient, This usually assists in creating a flakier end product.


A measurement term that represents about 1/8 teaspoon


A slow pour of a fine stream of liquid, usually sugar glaze or melted butter. This can either be decorative or done to add flavor.


To lightly sprinkle a fine layer of powdered sugar or flour on a food item. This can be done with sugaring a cake or putting flour on meat.


Adding liquid to sautéed meat or vegetables in pan to remove brown coating from food.

Evaporated Milk:

unsweetened condensed milk that has about 60% of the water removed from fresh milk.

Five-ply cookware:

Cookware that is constructed with five layers of metal.


Cover food with liquor and briefly alight


To make a ridged design with baking tools or fingertips, usually for pie crust or other baked goods.

Fluted Bakeware:

Pans or other baking related tools that have grooved sides. The fluted pattern serves to improve airflow that helps promote even baking and adds strength and durability to pans.


To combine a delicate mixture or ingredient into a heavier one without deflating or stirring the mixture. Folding is often concerned with not bursting the air bubbles in the lighter mixture with the heavy one.

Fondant Icing:

Icing that is a mixture of sugar, water, and cream of Tartar.


Often confused with icing, frosting is a thick and fluffy coating used on the outsides of cakes whereas icing is thinner and glossier.


A glaze, icing, or whipped filling of chocolate and cream used in cakes and truffles

Glace Icing:

Icing that is made of powdered sugar and water.


A coat applied on baked items in the form of a liquid, thin icing, or jelly. A glaze usually is sweet, but can have savory elements. Glazes can be applied by dipping, dripping, or applying it on with a brush.

Greaseless Cooking:

Preparing cooking foods without added fats and oils.


Cooking process of breaking solid food items down into smaller pieces.


The process of transforming solid food items into small pieces using a cheese grater or other specific graters.

Half Sheet Pan:

A flat, rectangular sheet pan with raised sides that can be used to cook a variety of foods in the oven. It can often be used for baking bread rolls, cookies, sheet cakes, and pizzas.

Hard Anodized :

A electrochemical process to strengthen materials such as aluminum to increase durability, strength, and corrosion resistance.

Heaping Teaspoon:

A measurement term referring to a teaspoon that has been filled past the top of the spoon up to complete capacity of what it can hold.


A coating that is usually applied to cakes and cookies. Usually thinner and glossier than frosting.

Induction Heating:

A heating process that works via electromagnetic induction. This heating method may allow for rapid heating and more precise temperature control versus electric and gas heating.

Jelly Roll Pan:

A flat, rectangular sheet pan with raised sides that is a smaller version of a half sheet pan. In addition to cakes and cookies, this pan is perfect for roasting vegetables and jelly rolls.


To cut food into long thin strips.


Pushing and turning dough into a smooth, uniform mixture.


Substances that cause baked goods such as bread to rise by creating air bubbles. Yeast is considered a natural leavener, whereas baking soda and baking powders are considered chemical leaveners.

Level Teaspoon:

Filling a teaspoon with the ingredient so it is flat topped and filled up to the top of the spoon.


A small cookie made of egg, sugar, almonds or coconuts.


A small sponge cake with a shell-like exterior usually made from flour, sugar, eggs, and almonds.


To soak foods in a seasoned liquid before cooking to add high amounts of flavor.

Maillard Reaction:

Chemical reaction in steaks, biscuits, cookies, etc. that gives browned food desirable flavor.

Mise en Place:

The organization and set up of items that are required before cooking starts.


Put together two materials and stirring until they are combined.

New England Hot Dog Pan:

A specialty pan used to create New England style hot dog buns that are perfect for hot dogs and lobster rolls.

Nonstick Pan:

A baking or cooking pan where food items do not stick to the surface of the pan.


To boil an item until partially cooked then moved into another form of cooking like baking or frying to finish.

Partially Set:

To chill gelatin in a refrigerator so it achieves the consistency of unbeaten egg whites.


A measurement term that represents about 1/16 teaspoon.


To fill a pastry bag with frosting or similar pastes and squeeze through tip of the bag and form a design.


A moist heat cooking technique by simmering food over a small amount of liquid either at or just below the boiling point of the liquid.


A bread pre-ferment starter that is considered wetter than a Biga. Bread starters can be used to substitute or supplement bread yeast in artisan breads.


A light, hollow roll. It is typically made from egg batter, milk, and flour.


To mash, blend or sieve cooked food like potatoes or vegetables into a consistent creamy texture .


Dough or batter that is prepared in advance of mixing the final dough or batter.


The final rise of bread before it is to be baked. The proofing process can also refer to adding dry yeast to water before adding it to the dough.

Pullman Pan:

A loaf pan that makes Pullman loafs, or what is commonly thought of as classic sandwich bread.

Quarter Sheet Pan:

A flat, rectangular sheet pan with raised sides that is a smaller version of a Jelly Roll pan. It is designed to be a versatile pan used to bake sheet cakes, Swiss rolls, among other uses.


A cooking method of reducing the amount of liquid in a dish by boiling it out through evaporation. This serves to leave behind a thicker sauce, gravy, or liquid stock that has more concentrated flavors.


When referring to pans, how baked items like cookies, cakes, etc. come out of the pan after baking. True non-stick pans should release baked goods effortlessly.


To cook meat within an oven on medium to high heat to form dry heat that browns and caramelizes the meat.

Roll, Roll out:

To flatten dough, or like substances, with rolling pin to cut and form shapes, designs for baked goods.

Rolling Boil:

Vigorous boiling to the point where you can see the surface boiling all across the surface.

Rounded Teaspoon:

An imprecise measuring convention where you form a small pile of the ingredient above the top of the teaspoon. It is less than filling the teaspoon at total capacity.

Royal Icing:

Hard white icing made from confectioners' sugar and softly beaten egg whites.

Sauté pan:

A cooking pan that has a wide, flat bottom and tall sides. Ideal for searing meats and reducing sauces.


To heat a liquid like milk just below boiling point.


A method to cook meat at high heat for a short amount of time until surface is brown.

Scoop Pan:

A cookie sheet with one edge shaped like a scoop that is designed to easily gather finished cookies together to transfer onto a plate or dish.


To tenderize meat by making shallow incisions that are designed to allow for better absorption of marinade.


To cut or tear into long narrow strips by hand or with a sharp knife.


To remove the outer layer of a vegetable, like corn.


Passing a dry ingredient, like flour, through a mesh strainer to make ingredients lighter and more even.


To cook liquid at just below boiling point. Tiny bubbles will rise but not creating a boil.


A frying pan with slanted sides. Ideal for stir fry, frittatas, and other foods that require moving ingredients in the pan.


A measurement term that resembles 1/32 teaspoon.

Soft Peak:

A stage of beating egg whites or making whipped cream where the peaks are just starting to hold onto the whisk or mixer. The peak is soft and melts back into itself.

Softened Butter:

To bring a stick of butter to room temperature, often times because it is easier to mix sugar, flour, and other ingredients with melted butter.


A moist cooking method where ingredients are cooked at high temperatures, but it is generally a gentle cooking method as the food is not directly exposed to bubbling liquids.

Stiff Peak:

A stage of beating egg whites or making whipped cream where the peaks hold straight up on the mixer or whisk.


To mix ingredients together in a circular motion.

Stir Fry:

A rapid cooking technique, usually involving frying meats and vegetables at high height while stirring rapidly.


A wide pot with a flat bottom, tall straight sides, and an opening at the top that is generally used to cook stocks, broths, and soups.


Gradually adding hot/boiling water to a cold or room temperature ingredient for it to raise.

Texas Muffin:

Also known as jumbo muffins, Texas muffins are muffins that are larger than the standard muffin size.


Thoroughly mixing ingredients together in a gentle fashion.

Vapor Seal Cookware:

Cookware that features a vapor seal design that traps in evaporated liquids. This allows food to cook in their own natural liquids.

Waterless Cookware:

Cookware that allows you to cook using minimal to no water. Certain foods naturally contain water and taste better when they are cooked in their own natural juices. The other benefit is that cooking with water has a tendency to sap nutrients from what you are cooking.


To beat rapidly, which has the effect of adding air into a mixture, adding volume to the mixture.


A cooking utensil that features a long narrow handle with wires.

Confectioner's Sugar::

Confectioner's sugar is powdered sugar that results from milling granulated sugar. The "x" associated with the sugar refers to the level of fineness the sugar was ground down into.


The outer colored part of the peel of citrus fruit.

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