Baking terms

Know your fondant icing from your frosting, how to bake blind, beat, fold and cream? Certain words appear time and again in baking recipes but what do they actually mean? Check out our explanations and videos below...

Creaming

Baking blindBaking blind

This is the process of partially or fully baking a pastry case in the oven without the filling. Line a tart tin with pastry, cover it with greaseproof paper and weigh it down with ceramic baking beans or dried chickpeas, beans or lentils. Baking blind is ideal if you have a no-cook filling, a filling that needs little cooking or is cooked at a low temperature. It ensures a crisp finish.

Beating

This is the rigorous mixing of ingredients using a wooden spoon, electric whisk, food mixer or food processor. The purpose is to thoroughly combine ingredients and to incorporate air, making cakes light and fluffy.

CreamingCreaming

This is the term used in baking for beating sugar and softened butter together to form a lighter coloured mixture that is aerated. This is one of the ways to add lightness and volume to cakes. 

Watch how to cream butter and sugar

Curdling

Curdling is when a food mixture separates into its component parts. A creamed cake mixture may curdle if the eggs are added too quickly or are too cold. It can be brought back by adding a tablespoon of flour.

DustingDusting/Dredging

This involves sprinkling sugar or spices over food as a decoration. A recipe may also ask you to 'dust' a work surface with flour or icing sugar to stop dough or fondant icing from sticking before kneading and rolling it out. A tea strainer or fine sieve is suitable for dusting. You can also buy a shaker or dredger which consists of a cup with a handle and perforated lid.

Folding in

A technique used to gently combine a light, airy ingredient (such as beaten egg whites) with a heavier one (such as cake mix). The lighter mixture is poured on top of the heavier one in a large bowl. Starting at the back of the bowl, a metal spoon is used to cut down vertically through the two mixtures, across the bottom of the bowl and up the side. The bowl should be rotated slightly with each series of strokes. This down-across-up-and-over motion gently combines the ingredients to create a light, fluffy consistency. 

Watch how to fold flour into a cake mixture

Icing

There are a number of different ways to ice a cake. Icing is a term used both for the action of covering a cake and for the covering itself. Icing is sometimes called frosting, particularly in American recipes. 

Watch how to ice a cake

Popular icings include:

  • Glacé icing (icing sugar and water)
  • Buttercream (icing sugar and softened butter)
  • Cream cheese icing or frosting (icing sugar, cream cheese and butter)
  • Fondant icing (a malleable icing made from ingredients including icing sugar, water and glucose that can be rolled out. It's generally easier to buy this type of icing, also known as ready-to-roll icing or regal ice)
  • Royal icing (a glossy, runny icing that sets hard, made from icing sugar and egg whites)

Sifting

This is the method of passing flour, cocoa or icing sugar through a sieve to remove lumps and aerate it. Most cake recipes will suggest you sift these ingredients for best results.

Comments, questions and tips

Sign in or create your My Good Food account to join the discussion.
Be the first to comment...We'd love to hear how you got on with this recipe. Did you like it? Would you recommend others give it a try?
Be the first to ask a question about this recipe...Unsure about the cooking time or want to swap an ingredient? Ask us your questions and we’ll try and help you as soon as possible. Or if you want to offer a solution to another user’s question, feel free to get involved...
Be the first to suggest a tip for this recipe...Got your own twist on this recipe? Or do you have suggestions for possible swaps and additions? We’d love to hear your ideas.