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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.