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Baking glossary

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Aerate/Aeration: To aerate means to put air into - in the context of baking, to whip or beat air between particles, most commonly heavy cream or egg whites, but also can be done with things like flour, confectioners sugar, etc. 

All-purpose flour: A wheat flour that can be used for many different baking needs, including breads, cakes, and pastries. It usually has a medium gluten content between 8-11% as opposed to bread flour which has a gluten content of 12-14%.

Almond cream: Cream flavored with almonds using ground almonds, softened butter, and eggs. While it is sometimes referred to as frangipane, the two are actually different.
American buttercream: See buttercream

Angel food cake: A sponge cake made with egg whites, flour, sugar and usually a whipping agent such as cream of tartar. It differs from other cakes because it uses no butter. Its fluffy texture comes from the whipped egg whites.



Baba: A type of yeast bread or cake that is soaked in syrup.

Babka: A type of sweet yeast bread or coffee cake.

Baked Alaska: A dessert consisting of ice cream on a sponge-cake base, covered with meringue and browned in the oven.

Bain-Marie (also known as double broiler): The French term for water bath, this is a technique where a container is placed into another container that is full of hot or boiling water in order to warm, melt, or cook the food by providing a consistent gentle heat. These are commonly used for melting chocolate to temper, cheesecake, and souffles.

Baker’s Dozen: 13 is a baker’s dozen, originating in medieval England where laws related to the price of bread were so strict, bakers would include an additional loaf in fear of coming up short and getting fined or worse.

Baking Powder: A rising agent that is used to increase the volume and lighten the texture of baked goods. It does this by producing carbon dioxide in the response of moisture and heat which helps the batter rise.

Baking soda (also known as bicarbonate of soda): A leavening agent used to help increase lightness in batter by releasing carbon dioxide when it reacts with acid, causing the batter to expand. 

Batter: A mixture of ingredients that is liquid enough to pour and cannot be kneaded.

Bavarois / Bavarian cream / Crème Bavaroise: A sweet, smooth custard dessert. The base of bavarois is crème anglaise, which is thickened by adding egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and cream or milk.

Beat: Whisk or stir rapidly in order to aerate/incorporate air into the mix. 

Biscuit: In the US a biscuit usually refers to a type of dense roll that is almost like a savory version of a scone; while in Europe, a biscuit refers to a dry cookie like a shortbread or sable cookie. 

Blanch: The act of putting an ingredient in boiling water and then transferring it to ice water to quickly stop the cooking. This helps stop a process that would otherwise cause loss of flavor, color and texture. 

Blend: Mix multiple ingredients together through stirring until well incorporated.

Blind Bake: A method of pre-baking an unfilled pastry shell before adding its filling. This is done when the crust needs to bake longer than the filling. The shell is usually lined with parchment and then filled with ceramic beads or rice and then baked for a period of time before adding the filling. 

Bloom (gelatin): Preparing gelatin (either powder or sheet) to be used by softening it in cold water for 3-5 minutes before use. 

Blown Sugar: Pulled sugar that is made into thin-walled, hollow shapes by being blown up like a balloon.

Bread flour: A wheat flour most suitable for making breads, rolls, pizza doughs, because of its high gluten content (12-14%).

Boil: To heat a liquid until it reaches its boiling point / to place a thing into boiling liquid. 

Bombe: A type of frozen dessert made in a dome-shaped mold.

Boulangerie: The French word for a bread bakery, in France the bakery can only get this designation if the bread is made on site. 

Bread scoring: Slashing the top of the dough of a bread loaf before it is baked to allow for expansion in the baking process. Sometimes patterns are made in the bread this way.

Brioche: A bread made from enriched dough, which is buttery and light.  

Brown (verb): To darken the surface of a food by applying high heat during baking or cooking.

Brown butter: The method of melting butter in a saucepan until the milk solids separate from the fat and caramelize, giving off a nutty aroma and flavor. 

Bûche de Noël: The French word for the rolled Christmas cake meant to resemble a Yule log.

Butter (noun): Made by churning cream into semi-solid form. U.S. standards require butter to be 80% milk fat and 20% water and milk solids. 

Butter (verb): To spread butter over.

Butter cake: Butter cake, also referred to as creamed cakes, are considered the quintessential American cake. The most common forms are white and yellow cake. What makes a butter cake a butter cake is the use of butter, as opposed to oil. They are made of simple ingredients - flour, eggs, butter, sugar, salt, and a chemical leavening pair, but are lighter in texture than a pound cake.

Buttercream: This is the most common type of frosting used to decorate cakes and cupcakes, which is made by combining a fat (most often butter) with sugar/confectioners sugar until it is light and fluffy. There are several types of buttercreams:

  • American (Simple) buttercream: American buttercream is a bit firmer than most other buttercreams because it has a very high butter content. It is essentially just sugar and butter, which makes it the easiest and also the sweetest of the buttercreams.

  • Swiss meringue buttercream: Swiss meringue buttercream is made by first making Swiss meringue, which requires cooking egg whites and sugar. This makes the buttercream very stable and good for decorating.

  • Italian meringue buttercream: The most stable of the buttercreams, this is made by beating egg whites to firm peaks and then whisking hot sugar syrup to create a meringue that is used as the base of this buttercream.

  • French buttercream: Also using a meringue base, this process is done by heating a sugar syrup until it reaches soft ball stage and then whipping it into egg yolks and butter.

  • German buttercream: This uses a custard base, and is therefore a little less firm then the meringue-based buttercreams. 

  • Ermine buttercream: Made by cooking flour and sugar with milk to form a sweet paste that is then whipped with butter until fluffy.

Buttermilk: A tangy version of milk commercially produced by adding lactic acid bacteria to lowfat milk after it is fermented with heat. It can be created at home by taking lowfat milk and combining it with lemon juice or vinegar

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Cacao powder: Beans from the cacao plant processed at low temperatures and considered raw are milled into powder. This is a different process than the making of cocoa powder, though from the same plant. Cacao powder has a higher amount of nutrients.

Cake board: A base for cakes, usually made from cardboard or plastic that are available in various sizes and shapes.

Cake flour:  A wheat flour with a lower gluten content, around 7.5 to 9 percent and a lower protein content than other types of flours, allowing for softer, more tender cakes.

Cake stand: A stool-like object used to display cakes or other types of pastries. It can be plain or decorated, and made from various materials such as porcelain, wood, and metal.

Canelé: A small French pastry flavored with rum and vanilla with a soft and tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust. It takes the shape of a small, striated cylinder up to five centimeters in height with a depression at the top.

Caramelize: To heat food until the sugars on the surface break down and form a brown coating, which may be sweet or savory. The chemical process that causes sugars and starches to turn brown when heated.

Cassis: French for (black) currant. A very popular flavor in Europe. 

Chantilly cream: See crème

Chemical leaveners: See leaveners

Chevron: Refers to a pattern that is created by repetitive “V” shapes to form zig-zag lines. Can be used to decorate cakes using fondant and icing.

Chiffon: Chiffon cake is a type of foam cake, which has a high ratio of eggs to flour and is leavened mainly from the air beaten into the egg whites. It's similar to an angel food cake, but instead of using just egg whites, chiffon cake recipes use the whole egg

Chouquettes: French pastry choux sugar puffs and can also be made into profiteroles.

Choux pastry: See pâte


Clarified butter: Regular butter that is melted so that the milk solids separate from the butter fat. The water is evaporated from the butter and the milk solids are skimmed off and filtered out. The resulting golden, clear liquid is pure butter fat and can be stored longer than butter at room temperature. Can also be referred to as ghee. 

Coating consistency: When a liquid, usually a custard, is thick and viscous enough to coat a spoon and doesn’t drain off.

Cocoa butter: The edible cocoa fat extracted from cocoa beans.

Cocoa powder: Cocoa powder occurs when the fat, called cocoa butter, gets removed from the cacao beans during processing. The leftover dried solids are processed at a high temperature and are ground into the product sold as cocoa powder. Cocoa powder contains primarily cocoa solids, with only about 10 to 15 percent cocoa butter vs. the 50 percent or more in chocolate. The two basic types of cocoa powder are Dutch process and natural. 

Confectioners sugar (also known as powdered sugar): The finest version of white sugar which has been ground to a very fine powder. Used for icings and buttercreams. 

Combine: Stir ingredients together just until mixed.Mixing ingredients well to ensure that everything is distributed evenly in the cake batter.

Compote: A type of fruit spread made from whole fruit or chunks of fruit combined with sugar syrup.

Consistency: The texture and thickness of a substance.

Cooling rack: Also known as a wire rack, which can be used to cool cakes and other baked goods. Consists of thick wires that form a rectangular grid, with “legs” to create space between the cake and the countertop. 

Corn syrup: A sugar syrup made by the hydrolysis of starch to maltose, which is a glucose-glucose disaccharide. 

Cornet: A disposable container made from a triangle of parchment paper; commonly used to pipe icing or chocolate.

Coulis: Fresh, frozen, or dried fruits puréed to create a smooth dessert sauce.

Coverture: High-quality chocolate that contains a higher percentage of cocoa butter (32–39%) than baking or eating chocolate.

Cream: To beat ingredients to incorporate air and make the mixture creamy in consistency. 

Cream of tartar (also know as tartaric acid): Used to stabilize beaten egg whites and used as a raising agent in some baked goods.


  • Crème anglaise: An egg yolk thickened custard that can also be used as the base for other creams, including ice cream. 

  • Crème au beurre (also know as French buttercream): A traditional French recipe for frosting made from creamed butter and caster sugar enriched with egg yolks and can be flavored. 

  • Crème bavarois: Crème pâtissière mixed with chantilly, but with extra gelatin (so that it sets like a pudding).

  • Crème chiboust: A crème pâtissière lightened with Italian meringue. Though occasionally using whipped cream to lighten it, this is traditionally a millefeuille cream.

  • Crème chantilly (also know as chantilly cream): Sweetened whipped cream, sometimes with added vanilla. 

  • Crème d'amande (also know as almond cream or Frangipane): A simple almond flavored cream that is used to fill tarts, pastries and cakes.

  • Crème diplomat (also know as diplomat cream): Crème pâtissière mixed with chantilly cream, gelatine and any extra flavorings. 

  • Crème fraiche:  A cultured product made from cream, very similar to sour cream but with a higher fat content.

  • Crème mousseline:  Crème mousseline is a crème pâtissière whisked with butter for a long time until the texture is divinely foamy and airy.

  • Crème pâtissière (also know as pastry cream): Pastry cream, which can be infused with vanilla bean, vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract and can also be the base for other cream mixtures (like crème mousseline). 

  • Crème Legere: Pastry cream with sweetened whipped cream added

Crèmeux: Crémeux is crème anglaise emulsified with dark, milk or white chocolate.

Crepe: A thin pancake made by cooking a thin layer of liquid batter in a shallow, almost flat, pan.

Crimp: Technique of pinching the sides and tops of pie or tart crusts.

Croissant: Are a crescent-shaped flaky yeasted pastry.

Croquembouche: A celebratory dessert popular in Italy and French consisting of choux pastry puffs piled into a cone and bound with threads of caramel.

Crumb: The interior texture of baked goods such as cookies and cakes.

Crumb coating: The process of applying a thin layer of frosting to a cake to catch loose crumbs. The main purpose of a crumb coat is to catch the crumbs and set them in place so that you can then frost the layer cake without worrying about crumbs getting stuck and ruining the perfect exterior of your finished cake.

Crust: The outer skin of a bread or pie. Typically hard in texture.

Curdling: Curdling is when a mixture separates into its component parts. This can happen with eggs if they are added to a mixture too quickly or if the mixture is too hot.

Curd: An egg yolk-thickened creamy spread made from fruit juice, usually lemon juice.

Cut-in: Incorporating butter (or another solid fat) into flour just until the fat is in small, granular pieces resembling coarse sand. This is achieved by using two knives in a cross-cutting motion, forks, or a special pastry cutter.



Dacquoise: Can refer to both a dessert and a component of a dessert made from layers of meringue containing ground nuts, with fillings such as cream, buttercream, or ganache between.

Deglazing: The act of adding liquid to a hot pan, which allows all of the caramelized bits stuck to the bottom to release.

Dilute: Thinning a liquid by adding in water or another solvent.

Diplomat cream / crème diplomat: Equal parts crème pâtissiere (pastry cream) and unsweetened whipped cream, it uses both cornstarch and gelatin for a reliable structure, and cold butter and whipped cream keep it lightweight. 

Dissolve: To incorporate a solid ingredient/food to a liquid to form a solution or mixture.

Dust: To sprinkle lightly with a powder such as icing sugar or cocoa. V The process of sprinkling a thin layer of powdered ingredient such as cocoa powder, flour and confectioners’ sugar over food

Dutch Process Cocoa: Cocoa that has been processed with an alkali to reduce its acidity.

Dock: The action of poking holes in a pastry or rolled dough, especially for a pastry crust that you will be blind-baking or par-baking before filling. The holes reduce puffing so that the crust sits flat and bakes flat without any bubbles.

Double broiler: See bain-marie

Double cream: Double cream has a higher butterfat content than heavy cream, so it is much richer. In the US, heavy cream is 36-38% butterfat. Double cream, while double cream has a butterfat content of at least 48%.

Dough: A thick mixture made by combining flour/meal with a liquid. Usually refers to bread or pastry dough and it is stiff enough to be kneaded and rolled.

Dredge: To coat an ingredient with a dry ingredient, such as flour or powdered sugar, either before or after cooking.

Drizzle:  Pour a thin stream of a liquid on top of something.The process of pouring a thin stream of liquid such as glaze or butter over food.

Dry ingredients: Ingredients that are dry, don’t contain any water, and are usually in solid form. Some recipes require mixing dry ingredients before adding them to another mixture. Dry ingredients include flour, sugar, cocoa powder, or salt.



Eclair: A long, finger-shaped choux filled with pastry cream and glazed with various toppings.

Egg wash (noun): Beaten eggs. Sometimes additional liquid such as milk and water are added.

Egg wash (verb):  To brush a layer of beaten egg mixture over the surface of food before it is put in the oven, typically to add shine or color during the baking process.

Emulsion: A mixture containing liquids that are immiscible such as oil and water.

Enriched dough: Bread doughs made from yeast, flour, and water that are enriched with ingredients like milk, butter, and eggs. 

Entremet: a multilayered mousse cake that usually includes different textures and flavors as well as a beautiful finish

Essence (in baking): an artificial additive that is made to mimic an extract.

Extract: Refers to the natural substance that has been extracted straight from its source. For example, vanilla extract is the substance that has been retrieved straight from vanilla pods.



Fermentation: The process in which yeast consume starches and sugars in bread dough and produce CO2 gas and alcohol, which causes dough to rise, producing the holey texture you see in bread. Most bread recipes require two periods of rising - First rise: Waiting for the yeast to work after adding it to the dough. Second rise: Also known as the final rise, final fermentation, or blooming. The resting period after shaping the dough and before baking.

Firm peaks: Refers to a stage in whipping. When you lift up your beaters/whisk, the peaks should hold their shape better than soft peaks but not as rigidly as stiff peaks - where it can hold its shape but with tips that are slightly bent.

Fold: A technique used when combining two substances in an effort to not deflate, by using a gentle lifting and turning motion rather than stirring so as not to lose any trapped air bubbles. 


Fondant (rolled and poured): Rolled - a thick paste made of sugar and water and often flavored or colored, used in the making of candy or rolled out to make the icing and decoration of cakes. Poured - Poured fondant is a liquid icing that is poured over baked goods to give them a smooth finish. It is made similarly to rolled fondant, but it contains a higher ratio of liquid in order to thin it out.


Financiers: Small, rectangular individually sized cakes made with ground almond and browned butter.


Flash point: The temperature at which an oil ignites if it comes in contact with a flame.


French meringue: A blend of whipped egg whites, sugar, and often an acid for stabilization; since it is a raw preparation, it should be cooked before consuming


Frangipane: An almond-flavored filling made from pastry cream and marzipan. Frangipane in the US may also refer to an almond cream filling of butter, ground almonds, and eggs.


Feuilletine: Crunchy flakes of crushed up crêpes Dentelle usually added into the desserts to add texture. 


Fruit tartes: A classic French fruit tart has a buttery shortbread crust, a creamy vanilla custard, and topped with fresh fruit covered in a clear glaze.


Flavored cream: Whipped cream that has flavor added to it (ex. coffee, vanilla)



Galette: An open faced, free-form pie that doesn’t use a tin to keep its shape while baking. 

Ganache: A thick chocolate paste made from mixing melted chocolate and heavy cream, can be used made thinner to use as a coating or a thicker to use as a filling.

Gâteaux: A rich, often layered cake. 

Glaze: A coating that is applied to the surface, either before or after baking, to make it shine - can be sweet like a fruit tarte glaze, or savory like an egg wash glaze. 

Gelatin: A stabilizing agent comprised of collagen molecules obtained by boiling animal tissues ; commonly used as a gelling agent in food.

Génoise: A classic French cake that has a light, airy texture developed without the aid of leavening agents because the whipped eggs act as the leavening agent - génoise is a sponge cake made from whipped eggs, sugar, and flour. 

Gianduja: A silky, Italian chocolate that is flavored with hazelnut paste.

Glacé Icing: Icing made from just powdered sugar and water. 

Gluten: Proteins  found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye, that give baked goods their structure and texture. 

Grease (verb):  Coat the inside of a baking dish or pan with a fatty substance (oil, butter, lard) so the substance doesn’t stick to the pan.

Grainy: Refers to the texture of a substance - not smooth/fine, has granular bits throughout. 

Gold leaf: Edible 24-carat thin sheets of gold used to decorate cakes, baked goods, and a wide range of food. 

Gum paste: While similar to fondant in terms of pliability, it turns very hard when dried and is usually unsweetened and so mostly used for decorative purposes such as creating sugar flowers. 



Hard ball: When cooking sugar, the hard ball stage occurs at 250 F and can be determined by dropping a spoonful of hot syrup into a bowl of cold water and then gathering the cooled syrup into a ball. 

Hard crack: When cooking sugar, the hard crack stage can be determined when syrup is dropped into ice water and separates into hard, brittle threads that break when bent. The temperature will be 300 F and this stage is used for most candies such as lollipops.

Hydration: The ratio of water to flour in bread. Higher or lower hydration results in different dough consistencies. 



Icing: A sweet glaze used to cover or decorate cakes, pastries, or cookies.

Infuse: To immerse/steep/soak something into a liquid to extract its flavors.

Inverter Sugar: A mixture of two simple sugars, dextrose and laevulose, resulting from the breakdown of sucrose.

Italian buttercream: See buttercream

Italian meringue: A style of making meringue where egg whites are whipped and then cooked as hot sugar syrup is slowly drizzled into them



Jam: A fruit spread made from chopped fruit cooked with sugar until it reaches the jam setting point, usually around 215 ºF.

Japonaise: A baked meringue flavored with nuts.


Jesuite: A triangular, flaky pastry filled with frangipane cream and topped with sliced almonds and powdered sugar. 


Jelly: Jelly is made from fruit juice as opposed to jam which uses the whole fruit. Therefore, jelly has a smooth consistency and is usually translucent.

Joconde: A nutty, rich, light  sponge cake that provides the base for layered cakes like the opera cake. The name comes from Da Vinci's Italian model for the Mona Lisa—Lisa del Giocondo, which translates in French to Joconde.



Knead: To mix a stiff dough by manipulating it by hand or with a mechanical dough hook in order to make it smooth. In bread –making, this also helps develop the gluten. 


Kouign amann: a sweet Breton cake, made with laminated dough. It is a round multi-layered cake, originally made with bread dough, containing layers of butter and incorporated sugar, similar in fashion to puff pastry
Kirsch: A clear alcoholic beverage distilled from cherries.



Ladyfinger: A small, dry, finger-shaped sponge cake or cookie.

Laminate/lamination: The process of alternating layers of dough with butter. During the baking process, the butter between the thin layers of dough lets out steam during baking, helping the pastry puff up and rise, giving pastries such as croissants their delicate, airy and layered texture.

Leavening: Leavening agents are ingredients added or techniques used to incorporate gasses into baked goods. They help your baked goods rise. Leavening agents can be natural - yeast, water, eggs or chemical - baking soda, baking powder.

Levain: A mixture of flour and water that is allowed to ferment before adding it to the main dough. Also known as sourdough starter.

Linzertorte: A tart made of raspberry jam and a short dough containing nuts and spices.

Lukewarm: Barely warm or around 105 F.



Macaron: A French confections made from ground almond, egg whites, and sugar and filled with ganache and sandwiched. 

Macaronage: A classic French technique in which macaron batter is made by folding almond flour into meringue until it falls from a spatula in thick ribbons.

Madagascar bourbon vanilla: Considered to be the highest-quality vanilla; the beans are grown on islands off the east coast of Africa.

Madeleines: Sweet little cakes baked in a madeleine pan to give them their signature seashell shape. Madeleines should have a hump on the top (the opposite side of the crinkled shell pattern side). 

Marzipan: A sweetened almond paste usually sculpted or molded into figures for cake decoration, or rolled into thin sheets to cover cakes.

Mascarpone:  A rich double- or triple-cream cheese with at least 60-75% milkfat.
Mealy (as in dough): Pie dough made using smaller globs of shortening, resembling cornmeal. Mealy crusts are used for the bottoms of fruit or custard pies since they don't get as soggy as flaky ones.

Mechanical leavening: See leaveners

Medium ganache: Commonly used for soft truffle centers, soufflé bases, frosting, and cake filling, it uses a ratio of one-part chocolate to one-part liquid.
Meringue: A light mixture of beaten egg whites and sugar. There are several types of meringues that you can make:

  • French meringue: Made by whipping egg whites with sugar at room temperature. This is the least stable type of meringue.

  • Swiss meringue: Made by combining the egg whites and the sugar in a heat-proof bowl and setting it over a bain-marie to heat as you whip the mixture. Swiss meringue is more stable than French meringue, but still not the most stable of all.

  • Italian meringue: Made by cooking a sugar syrup to 115 ºC (soft ball) and then slowly adding it to a bowl with whipped egg whites, while continuously whisking. This is the most stable meringue.


Milk chocolate: A type of chocolate made from cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids.

Mince: Using a knife or sharp object to chop something very finely/into very small pieces


Mirror Glaze: A poured glaze that should lay perfectly smooth over a mousse cake.


Mille-feuille:  Meaning "thousand sheets" in French, it is composed of three layers of puff pastry sheets, each layer filled with creamy vanilla pastry cream and topped with chocolate and vanilla icing. Sometimes referred to as a Napoleon, vanilla slice, and custard slice.


Modeling chocolate: A mixture of chocolate and sugar syrup that can be modeled similarly to marzipan; can be made with dark, milk, or white chocolate.


Mousse: A light, creamy dessert made with an egg base, whipped cream, and usually gelatin.


Molasses: Unrefined cane syrup. There are several types of molasses:
Blackstrap molasses: Strong, bitter flavor due to  being one of the last by-products in sugar-making.


  • Fancy molasses: With a milder flavor, this is the default when a recipe says “molasses.” 

  • Light molasses:  Produced at the first stages of sugar making and has the mildest flavor.

  • Cooking molasses: A blend of fancy and blackstrap molasses.


Muslin cream: See crème



Napoleon: A dessert made of layers of puff pastry filled with pastry cream.

Natural starter: Sourdough starter or levain.

Net Weight: The weight of the total contents of a can or package.

Nonstick: For pan/surface: covered with a substance that prevents food from sticking.

No-Time Dough: A bread dough made with a large quantity of yeast and given no fermentation time except for a short rest after mixing.

Nougat: A mixture of caramelized sugar and almonds or other nuts, used in decorative work and as a confection and flavoring.



Oil cake: Cake made using oil or liquid fat as opposed to butter.

Ombré: A style of cake decoration owhere the colors blend into each other on a gradation from dark to light, or vice versa.

Opera cake: It is made with layers of almond sponge cake soaked in coffee syrup, layered with ganache and coffee French buttercream, and covered in a chocolate glaze. Its namesake originates from the layers resembling the levels of an opera house.

Oven spring: The quick initial rise of baked goods triggered by the heat of the oven.

Over-proofing: Commonly refers to bread dough which has been left to ferment/rest for too long. When this happens, the air bubbles that have been formed in the dough have grown too large and have popped. Indicated by the inability of the dough to spring back when you poke on it. The baked bread is likely to be dense. To rescue it, press down the dough, reshape, and reproof the bread.



Pastry flour: A soft wheat flour with around 9 to 10% gluten and medium to low protein, used for biscuits, muffins, cookies, pie doughs, and softer yeast doughs.

Parchment: Used to line baking pans to prevent food from sticking to them.

Pain au chocolat: From for chocolate croissant.

Palmier: Made with just a sheet of puff pastry and some sugar and rolled into a palm leaf or butterfly shape, these are sometimes referred to as pig’s ear, elephant ear, or palm heart.


Paris-brest: A classic French pastry that is an almond-studded baked ring of pâte à choux split in half horizontally and liberally filled with praline crème mousseline. The pastry was created in 1910 by pastry chef Louis Durand, as an homage to the long-distance Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race (the pastry’s circular shape is meant to evoke that of a bicycle wheel).


Pastillage: A pliable paste made from a base of powdered sugar that can be shaped or molded to make elaborate decorations and showpieces.


Pastry Cream: See crème


Pasteurized: Heat-treated to kill bacteria that might cause disease or spoilage.

Pâte à babas: A leavened batter used to make babas au rhum - dense little cakes soaked in rum, other liquors, or syrups to soften them.

Pâte à madeleine: Used to make the cake-like dessert of the same name.

Pâte à biscuit: The variety used to make cookies.

Pâte à bombe: A French custard base made by pouring soft-ball cooked sugar over whipping eggs that is used as a base for mousses and buttercreams.

Pâte à choux: Made from unleavened batter made from butter, water, flour, and eggs and which puffs because of the water content, it is a delicate pastry dough that is cooked twice—once on the stovetop and again in the oven and then filled usually with pastry or chantilly cream. Used for desserts like éclairs and profiteroles.

Pâtes battues: A family of beaten, leavened batters used to make cake-like desserts. 


  • Pâte génoise: One variety used for the dry cake that is layered with creams or icings in the fraisier, tiramisù, and the opéra cake.

  • Pâtes friables: These are  crumbly, unleavened doughs—sablée (“sandy”) or brisée (“broken”)—used to make pie crusts for classic French tartes and quiches. 


Pâte phyllo: An unleavened, paper-thin dough used in Middle-Eastern desserts like baklava which—while not traditionally French—are very common in French bakeries.


Pâte sucrée: Sweet pastry dough.


Pâte tournée: This is a leavened, turned batter used to make gâteaux des fruits, or fruitcake.


Pâtisserie: The French term for pastry but also the French word for pastry shop. The pastry chef is called the chef pâtissier or pâtissier.


Pectin: A natural plant sugar that acts as a thickening agent during the making of fruit jellies and preserves that is sometimes used in the place of gelatin.

Petits fours déguisés: pPetits fours that consist of fresh, dried, or candied fruits coated in sugar, fondant, or chocolate; the traditional version is coated in marzipan and then dipped in sugar.


Petits fours moelleux: Petits fours characterized by their spongy or cake-like quality; examples include madeleines, financiers, and miniature cakes.


Petits fours sec: Petits fours characterized by their dry texture and crisp, crunch quality; examples include tuiles, cigarettes, and langues du chat.


Pie: A baked dish made of pastry dough casing that contains a sweet or savory filling.


Pith: The white layer coating citrus fruit, hidden just underneath the surface of the skin. 


Pillars: Plastic or wood tubes used to separate parts of a tiered cake. Available in various lengths and designs to achieve the desired appearance.


Piping:  A technique commonly used to make patterns, letters, and swirls using a triangular plastic bag and a metal tip. Piping nozzles are available in various shapes; each of these shapes will result in different designs. 

Pound cake: Traditionally made from a pound of each butter, sugar, eggs, and flour.


Pots de crème: An egg-thickened pudding, unlike American puddings that are thickened with cornstarch. 


Poured fondant: See fondant


Poured sugar: Made by cooking sugar to the proper temperature, cooling it slightly, then pouring it into molds to cool and harden.
Preserves: Aimilar to jam made from fruit cooked with sugar, but usually preserves have larger pieces of fruit. 


Profiteroles: Small choux rounds filled with cream.

Proof/Prove: (See also fermentation) The step in the preparation of yeast bread and other baked goods in which the dough is allowed to rest and rise or yeast to activate before baking.


Puff pastry: A type of laminated dough that is composed of multiple layers of dough and butter -  is a laminated dough that rises into flaky layers when baked. Puff pastry relies solely on thin layers of butter to rise in the oven.


Pulled sugar: A type of confectionery commonly sculpted into ribbons, bows, and flowers because of its thin, satin-like appearance. Made by melting sugar, then “pulling” them quickly to produce the desired shapes - the end result when thin pieces of sugar are pulled and cooled rapidly so they retain a satiny sheen.


Punch down: Deflating bread dough, eliminating air bubbles so that it can be easily kneaded and shaped after its first rise. Contrary to its name, this process should be carried out gently.



Quick breads: Any bread leavened with leavening agents other than yeast or eggs.



Red velvet: Most red velvet cakes, in a nod to the traditional way the cake was made, contain buttermilk and a small amount of cocoa powder. These ingredients give the cake a subtle, yet distinctive and delicious flavor that is not quite chocolate and not quite plain vanilla. The cake is usually topped off with a generous amount of cream cheese frosting.

Reduce: The process of thickening and reducing the amount of liquid in a liquid substance through simmering or boiling in order to intensify its flavor. Reducing is the opposite of diluting.

Religieuse: Religieuse is a French pastry made of two choux pastry cases, one larger than the other, filled with crème pâtissière, 

Ribbon stage: After being aerated, the mixture is thick enough to draw a ribbon on the surface of the mixture for 10 secs when the whisk is lifted, but does not hold its shape.

Rolled fondant: See fondant

Rolling boil: When liquid or mixture has reached its boiling temperature and produces a lot of bubbles.
Rough Puff Pastry: A quicker method of making puff pastry, where instead of using full sheets of butter, you break the butter up into small pieces before combining with the flour.

Royal icing: A hard, brittle icing used for decorating cakes and cookies.

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Sabayon: A foamy, stirred sauce-like custard made by whisking eggs, sugar, and wine over low heat.
Sablée: (See also pâtes friables) Named after the French verb “sabler” meaning to “make sandy” this is a dough whose texture is crumbly and resembles sand. 

Scald: To pour over or immerse in boiling water for a short time in order to cook only the outer layer. 

Scant: In terms of measurement, a scant cup of flour is measured just below the cup line (just less than the amount called for).

Scoring: Cuts made prior to bread dough before baking; creates a decorative appearance and lets the bread expand properly in the oven.


Seizing: A reaction that occurs when water is added to molten chocolate; tiny sugar and cocoa particles absorb water, causing them to separate from the liquid cocoa butter

Self-rising flour: A blend of low-protein flour, salt, and baking powder.


Shortbread: Cookies made from just three ingredients: sugar, butter, and flour, usually following the ratio 1:2:3.


Shortening: Any type of fat added to a baking recipe. Fat interferes with the formation of long gluten strands, literally shortening the strands and producing a crumbly texture.
Sift: Putting a food through a sieve to separate solids from liquids, or lumps from powdered material.
Sieve: A metallic, mesh tool that is used to sift. 


Simmer: The process of bringing a liquid to a temperature that is slightly below its boiling point, and letting it bubble gently.


Silpat: A nonstick silicone mat that can be used for baking.

Slurry: A mixture of a raw starch with a cold liquid; you must make a slurry before adding starch to a hot liquid.


Steep: To infuse or impart with flavor.


Slake: To mix a powder, such as cornflour, with a little liquid to form a paste in order for it then to be mixed into a larger amount of liquid without forming lumps.


Soft ball: A term in sugarcraft and confectionary. A small amount of syrup is dropped into cold water and forms a soft, flexible ball, but flattens like a pancake after a few moments in your hand. The temperature on a thermometer would be 118-120 ºC. This stage is used for making fudge.


Soft peak: A stage in whipping where the peaks are able to hold their shape when your whisk/beaters are lifted. They are soft and melt back into the mixture after some time.


Soft crack: When the sugar temperature reaches 132-144 ºC, the syrup will form hard threads that are still pliable and will bend before they break. Mostly used for butterscotches and taffy.


St. Horone: A French cake that incorporates layers of classic puff pastry, balls of choux pastry, and pastry cream. This cake originated in nineteenth-century France and was named after Saint Honoré, the French patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs.


Stiff peak: Refers to a stage in whipping when peaks do not collapse at all when the beaters/whisk is lifted. At this point, the mixture should be very thick. Don’t continue whipping when you’ve reached this stage since it’ll result in overbeating.
Soaking: The process of brushing a soaking solution over the surface of cake layers; the soaking solution is usually flavored with extracts, liquors, or liqueurs.
Sourdough: A bread leavened by a natural starter.
Sourdough starter: A natural starter, aka levain or pre-ferment.
Soufflé: a French, baked egg-based dish made with egg yolks and beaten egg whites.
Sponge cake: An airy cake made from whipped eggs or egg whites. The butter is melted with the milk before incorporating into the cake batter.


Sugar: A sweet crystalline substance obtained from various plants, especially sugar cane and sugar beet, consisting essentially of sucrose, and used as a sweetener in food and drink.

  • Brown sugar: Refers to white sugar that has been flavored with a little molasses, which gives it a golden color. It's a common misconception that brown sugar is unrefined.

  • Demerara sugar: Refers to the partially-refined raw sugar that is made from the first pressing of sugar cane.

  • Granulated sugar: Refers to white sugar usually, though it may be golden in color too if it hasn't been treated with decolorizing charcoal to remove the colored impurities. For this reason, not all granulated sugar is vegan because the charcoal may come from animal sources.

  • Icing sugar (also called powdered sugar or confectioners sugar):  A very fine, powdery sugar that often contains a little starch (either cornstarch or tapioca starch) which prevents clumping.

  • Muscovado sugar: Similar to brown sugar, but unlike brown sugar that is made from refined white sugar colored with molasses, muscovado is naturally brown because it's partially refined (and sometimes even unrefined).

  • Pearl sugar: A coarse white sugar that doesn't melt or burn when baked. 

  • Powdered sugar: See icing sugar

  • Turbinado sugar: A coarse sugar that doesn't melt. It has a golden color because it hasn't been decolorized the way white sugar has. 

Sweet shortcrust: See pâte sucrée

Swiss buttercream: See buttercream

Swiss meringue: See meringue



Temper: A technique used to raise the temperature of a substance gradually, usually used with eggs or chocolate. With eggs, a hot liquid is slowly added to the mixture in small amounts to prevent the eggs from scrambling. With chocolate, it takes it through a temperature curve, which aligns the chocolate’s crystals to make it smooth, silky and creates a satisfying snap when you bite into it.


Tunneling: A large air gap between the crust and the crumb of a loaf of bread, usually caused by letting the dough rise for too long before baking. 

Turntable: A cake stand with a rotating base that is used for decorating cakes.


Tart: A pastry shell that has been filled with sweet or savory ingredients; the top is usually open and not covered by pastry


Tuiles: A very thin wafer cookie that can be shaped or molded while hot before hardening into their final shape. 


Turbinado sugar (also known as raw sugar): Brown sugar that has been only partially refined to remove the surface molasses.



Under-proofing: In reference to bread dough, this occurs when the fermentation time isn’t long enough, so the air bubbles produced are not enough for the desired bread texture.



Viennoiseries: A category of French pastry, usually savory, and made from flaky croissant doughs or danish doughs.

Velvet cake: “Velvet” was a term used in Victorian England to describe cakes with a fine crumb and a soft texture, distinct from other confections such as pound cakes and sponge cakes. These cakes called for rich ingredients like eggs, buttermilk, almond flour, and vinegar.



Whipped Cream: Made by whipping heavy cream and sometimes sugar until the desired consistency is reached (soft, firm, or stiff peaks). 
Whisk (noun):  A kitchen tool made of wire loops that is used to aerate as it mixes.

Whisk (verb): To aerate or incorporate air into a mixture

Whole wheat flour: Wheat flour made from whole wheat grain and is more fibrous than all-purpose flour.





Yeast: A microorganism that consumes sugars and starches and produces CO2 gas which causes bread to rise.
Yield: The amount of baked goods one can get from one recipe. Similar to batch.



Zest: The outer skin of citrus fruits which contains natural oils that provide aroma and flavor. Small shavings of the skin are added to various dishes to intensify the required citrus flavors.

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