Common Baking Terms You Need To Know

common baking terms

If you’re looking to get into baking, knowing common baking terms is important. Why? Well, while baking is fun and can produce delicious results, it’s actually something that is very technical. 

That means to achieve a successful bake, you’re going to have to follow the recipe to a T (it’s one of the basic rules of baking!). And for you to do that, you need to understand certain baking terms. 

Feeling scared yet? Not to worry; that’s what this guide is for! Keep reading so you can say goodbye to confusing terms and hello to yummy outcomes!

Common Baking Terms – A

  • Aerate: The act of incorporating air into your ingredients baking during the production process to increase volume. An example is the act of sifting flour.
  • Aged egg whites: This is the process of separating egg whites from the egg yolks. You’ll then store the whites in a loosely covered container for 1-2 days. This process is normally used for baking French macarons
  • Autolyse: This is the process of mixing flour and water and allowing it to rest. This will help gluten development and makes dough easier to handle.

Common Baking Terms – B

  • Bain-marie: A method of cooking delicate items such as custards that involves giving them a hot water bath. This is done to cook the items indirectly.
  • Bake: To cook food by surrounding it with dry heat in an oven.
  • Beat: The act of mixing ingredients together with a circular up-and-down motion using a spoon, whisk, or mixer with a paddle attachment. This is to incorporate air into the mixture.
  • Blend: Mixing two or more ingredients to produce one product.
  • Blind baking: This is the process of pre-baking a pie crust or other pastry without the filling. This technique is used when you have a filling that needs little to no cooking.
  • Bloom: When referring to yeast, it’s the process of mixing yeast with warm water and sugar to activate it. When referring to chocolate, it’s a grayish coating that can appear on the surface. It can also be used to refer to the process of soaking gelatine in water for a few minutes.
  • Brulee: Any food that is sprinkled with sugar and then baked or torched to caramelize the sugar. The result is a sweet and hard crust.

Common Baking Terms – C

  • Caramelize: The act of heating sugar to the point where it changes to a brownish color and gets a syrupy consistency.
  • Choux pastry: A light pastry dough used in many pastries. Its only ingredients are butter, water, flour, and eggs. You can find this in Chef Jimbo de Panadero’s Making the Perfect Cream Puffs and Eclairs class as well as in Chef Ely Salar’s store.
  • Cream or Creaming: To beat ingredients (usually sugar and a form of fat, like butter) until you get a smooth, fluffy, and aerated mixture.
  • Crumb: This refers to the internal texture of baked goods.
  • Curdling: This is the process of separating a food mixture into its component parts. It is usually achieved by adding a catalyst like yeast. This is very popular in cheese-making.
  • Cut In: Incorporating butter into flour using a cutting motion until the consistency is small and granular, resembling sand particles. This is done by two knives used in scissors-like fashion or via a pastry blender. Common for making pastries.

Common Baking Terms – D

  • Double Boiler: Refers to using two pans of the same size placed on top of one another with water inside the bottom pan. In baking, this is commonly used in melting chocolate. However, this is a cooking technique for steaming dumplings.
  • Dough: A mixture of ingredients like flour, water, and yeast that is used for baking breads, pastries, and other food.
  • Drizzle: The act of pouring a thin stream of any kind of liquid into food. Ever heard of drizzling chocolate? That’s what this means.
  • Dust or Dusting: Lightly sprinkling or coating the surface of a food or work surface with a dry substance like flour, sugar, or cocoa.

Common Baking Terms – E

  • Egg wash: Refers to beaten eggs that are sometimes mixed with another liquid. You then brushed it onto food to give it gloss and color when baked.
  • Emulsion/Emulsify: The process of combining oil and water. These two liquids don’t mix well naturally, which is why there’s a need for an emulsifier.
  • Extract: A concentrated form of food flavoring, such as vanilla extract.

Common Baking Terms – F

  • Ferment or Fermentation: Fermentation is the chemical change happening in food during the baking process. The yeast consumes sugars and releases carbon dioxide, causing the dough to rise.
  • Fold or Fold-in: To gently integrate ingredients such as whipped cream or beaten egg whites into another mixture without causing loss of air.
  • Frosting: A sweet, creamy glaze made of sugar with a liquid, such as water or milk, with ingredients like butter, egg whites, cream cheese, or flavorings and used to cover or decorate baked goods. Also known as “icing.”

Common Baking Terms – G

  • Glaze: To coat food with a shiny liquid, icing, or a jelly before or after the food is cooked. It is applied via brushing or drizzling.
  • Gluten: A protein found in wheat that gives strength and elasticity to bread and other baked goods.
  • Grease: To rub fat on the surface of a pan or dish to prevent any food from sticking to it.

Common Baking Terms – H

  • Hydrate: Adding liquid to a dry ingredient.
  • Harden: Not the basketball player! It means chilling a mixture until it solidifies.

Common Baking Terms – I

  • Icing: Icing is a term used both for the action of covering a cake and for the covering itself (cake icing). It is also called or known as frosting.
  • Incorporate: To mix one ingredient into another until everything is evenly distributed.
  • Infuse: Steeping an ingredient in a hot liquid to extract its flavor.

Common Baking Terms – J

  • Jelly Roll: A thin sheet of sponge cake spread with jelly or other fillings. It is then rolled up.

Common Baking Terms – K

  • Knead or Kneading: Kneading is the process of working dough with the heels of one’s hands using a pressing and folding motion. You do this until the dough becomes elastic and smooth.
  • Knock Back: The process of ‘punching down’ the dough after it has risen. This will remove any air bubbles and reduce the dough’s volume.

Since we’re on the letter K, I think it’s appropriate to talk about the kitchen. Specifically, the top 10 kitchen tools you must have as a novice baker. When starting out, you might not have all the equipment you’ll need to crush your first-ever recipe.

But that’s why this guide is here! Avoid “guesstimates” and make your journey into baking an enjoyable one. Download this free guide today!

Now, back to the common terms in baking!

Common Baking Terms – L

  • Laminate: To layer pastry with butter to create flaky layers such as for croissants. You can experience this in our Laminated Dough class.
  • Leaven: The process of adding a substance to bread dough (and other baked goods) which enables the dough to rise. The substance can be yeast, baking powder, baking soda, or even air.
  • Line: To “line your pan” means placing parchment or greaseproof paper on your pan to prevent any sticking.
  • Lukewarm: Typically around body temperature (98.6°F / 37°C), used often in baking for liquids that are added to yeast.

Common Baking Terms – M

  • Marzipan: This refers to a sweet paste made of ground almonds and sugar. It is often used for cake decorations.
  • Mise en place: A French term for getting all your ingredients measured, cut, peeled, sliced, grated, and so on, before you start cooking. This is one of Chef Joey Prats’ favorite concepts to teach.
  • Mix: Combining ingredients together using a spoon, spatula, or electric mixer.

Common Baking Terms – N

  • No-knead: Refers to dough that is mixed but not kneaded. The gluten is developed through the long, slow rise instead.
  • Nut meal: Finely ground nuts. One example is almond meal.

Common Baking Terms – O

  • Overmix: This refers to mixing batter or dough more than what is needed in a recipe. This can result in a tough product due to the development of gluten.
  • Oven spring: The rapid rise of yeast goods in the oven due to the production and expansion of trapped gasses that is caused by the oven’s heat.

Common Baking Terms – P

  • Pasteurized egg whites: The process of pasteurization—sterilization via heat— to kill any bacteria that causes foodborne illnesses. They’re not the easiest to whip but can still be achieved by adding cream of tartar or some lemon juice.
  • Piping: This isn’t related to plumbing. This refers to a decorating technique achieved using a decorating bag and using various metal decorating tips. One class where you can experience it in The Bailiwick Academy is the Flowers in Full Bloom class.
  • Preheat: A cooking process by setting the oven to the desired temperature before placing the food item inside. This process is especially crucial when you’re working with food with yeast, baking powder and baking soda so that you get the proper rise.
  • Proof/Proofing/Prove: This is the final dough-rise step before you bake. Proofing dough involves covering and placing the dough in a cool, dry place—and sometimes, refrigeration—allowing the yeast enough time to interact with the flour to produce CO2 to let the dough rise. This term can also refer to the viability of the yeast by dissolving it in water and mixing sugar in it.
  • Punch down: This refers to the release of gasses formed by yeast during the rising process.

Common Baking Terms – Q

  • Quenelle: An egg-like shape formed from cream or similar ingredient, often made using two spoons.
  • Quick bread: Breads that are quick to make because they don’t require kneading or yeast. Incidentally, we have a class that’s called Quick Breads where you can experience making these!

Common Baking Terms – R

  • Ribbon Stage: The ribbon stage is a term in baking that describes the consistency of a mixture, typically of eggs and sugar, that’s been beaten until it’s pale, thick, and smooth. When the mixture falls from a spoon or whisk, it should form “ribbons” that hold their shape briefly on the surface before sinking back in.
  • Rolling Boil: When water in an open saucepan reaches boiling point and all of the liquid is moving with bubbles that are continually rising and breaking on the surface.
  • Rest: When you let the dough rest, that means you’re letting it sit undisturbed for a period of time. It can also refer to carry-over cooking, when cooked or baked food is removed from a heat source to let the internal temperature rise and let the food continue cooking.
  • Rise: The process of the dough increasing in volume due to the production of gasses by the yeast. This creates a light, airy structure.    
  • Roux: A mixture of fat and flour that is used to thicken sauces.

Common Baking Terms – S

  • Scald: Heating a liquid to just below the boiling point.
  • Sift or Sieve: Process of passing dry and mostly powdery ingredients like flour, cocoa and sugar through a sieve or mesh screen to aerate and remove lumps.
  • Simmer: The act of slowly cooking liquid under low heat until it forms bubbles.
  • Soft Peaks: Egg whites or cream that have been whipped to the point at which a peak will bend or slump over to one side.
  • Starter: A fermented mixture of water and flour that contains a yeast and bacteria culture. Use this to make sourdough bread.
  • Stiff Peaks: The opposite of soft peaks—the whipped egg whites or cream will stand completely erect.
  • Stir: Using a spoon or ladle to mix liquid ingredients together in either a circular or figure-eight motion.
  • Sweet cream: Cream that is not fermented, in contrast to sour cream or crème fraîche.

Common Baking Terms – T

  • Temper or Tempering: The process of slowly adding a hot liquid to eggs or other foods to raise their temperature without causing them to get cooked or to curdle. It is also used to refer to heating chocolate to produce a glossy sheen. It allows the sugar crystals to align together to produce a crunchy texture. You can experience tempering in The Art of Chocolate class!
  • Trimming: Trimming is the process of cutting off the edges or excess parts of a baked good. This can be done for aesthetic reasons or for practical reasons such as removing an overcooked edge of a cookie. 
  • Turn: It is simply to fold the dough over onto itself.

Common Baking Terms – U

  • Unsaturated fat: A fat that is liquid at room temperature, such as vegetable oils.
  • Unsweetened: A product with no added sugar.

Common Baking Terms – V

  • Vanilla: A flavor derived from orchids in the genus Vanilla. It’s one of the most usual baking flavors.
  • Volume: The space occupied by an ingredient. It also refers to a measurement method (e.g., 1 cup of flour).

Common Baking Terms – W

  • Wash: Coating a food item using egg, water, and milk during the pre-baking process. The term can also apply to glazing or icing the food after the baking process.
  • Whip: To aerate liquids and increase the volume using a rotary beater or a whisk.
  • Whisk: A kitchen tool made of wire loops that add air as it mixes substances together.
  • Whole grain: A term used to refer to anything made with or containing whole, unprocessed grains.

Common Baking Terms – X

  • Xanthan gum: A thickener and stabilizer used in many foods, especially gluten-free baked goods. This provides a structure that would otherwise be supplied by gluten. You can see this being used in keto bread.

Common Baking Terms – Y

  • Yeast: A type of fungus used in baking that ferments sugars and releases carbon dioxide which causes dough to rise.
  • Yolk: The yellow center of an egg. It’s high in fat and protein and used in many baking recipes.

Common Baking Terms – Z

  • Zest: Zest is the thin and colored outer skin of a citrus fruit. It is fragrant—due to it being rich in oils—which is why it’s added to baked goods for a rich flavor. You can remove it with a vegetable peeler or a paring knife. 
  • Zabaglione: An Italian dessert, or sometimes a beverage, made with egg yolks, sugar, and a sweet wine.

Final Thoughts

Baking can be quite intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. Not only will you have to make sure you’re following the recipe, but you’ll run into terms you might be unfamiliar with like “proofing”, “kneading”, or “autolyse”. But don’t be discouraged: every master baker was once a beginner who didn’t know these terms either. 

All you need to do is keep going and practicing until even these terms—and the whole baking process—become second nature to you. And if you want an avenue for being able to perfect baking via the best classes taught by some of the best instructors in the Philippines, you don’t have to look anywhere else but The Bailiwick Academy. Not only will you become more familiar with these words, but you’ll soon find yourself applying them in real-life baking scenarios!

So if you’re ready to speak the language of baking fluently—in words and in action—sign up at The Bailiwick Academy today. We’re ready to help you on your baking journey and make it into an experience you’ll enjoy…

One where you’ll look back on fondly when you become the baker you’ve always dreamed of becoming!

See you in one of our classes!


Keep coming back to The Bailiwick Academy blog for more kitchen tips, tricks, and much more!

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