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Baking & Desserts

84 Helpful Cooking Tips

Published: February 2019
Swapping Bacon Fat for Butter
Is refrigerated bacon fat a good substitute for butter when baking biscuits?
Published: October 2018
How to Freeze Cake Layers
Try this convenient method for (mostly) make-ahead dessert.
Published: October 2018
How to Take a Pie Through Airport Security
Can you fly with a pie? Here are tips for traveling with dessert.
Published: August 2018
What Does “When a Toothpick Comes Out Clean" Mean in Baking Recipes?
Inserting a toothpick into baked goods will help you determine doneness. Here’s a visual guide to help you understand the terminology we use.
Published: April 2018
What Is Clear Vanilla Extract?
And how does it compare with standard vanilla extract?
Published: December 2017
Passionate about chocolate? Here’s what you need to know to get cooking with this miracle ingredient.
Published: August 2017
From Cobblers to Sonkers: A Guide to Rustic Fruit Desserts
Is it a slump? A grunt? A buckle? Depends who you ask.
Published: August 2017
Can You Bake Cupcakes and Muffins Without a Muffin Tin?
Some packages of aluminum baking cups claim that they’re sturdy enough to fill and use directly on a baking sheet—no muffin tin required. Is this true?
Published: April 2017
Can You Reuse a Disposable Baking Pan?
Can disposable baking pans be reused?
Published: August 2016
Cookie Sheet Shifting
Does it really matter if you switch and rotate your cookie sheets during baking?
Published: February 2016
Substituting Lard for Butter in Biscuits
Can lard be substituted for butter in biscuits?
Published: February 2016
Does Sunflower Butter Turn Cookies Green?
Will substituting sunflower butter for peanut butter in recipes for cookies turn them green?
Published: October 2015
Leaveners add lift and lightness to lots of different foods. But they work in different ways.
Published: April 2015
How Many Cans of Store-Bought Frosting Do You Need to Frost a Cake?
When there isn't time to make homemade frosting, how much canned frosting will it take to properly frost a cake?
Test Kitchen Tips for Cookie Recipes
Published: April 2014
Test Kitchen Tips for Cookie Recipes
Improve your baking with these core cookie techniques.
Published: April 2014
Banana Ripeness in Banana Bread
Recipes for banana bread always call for very ripe or even brown bananas. Can one get away with a yellow or slightly green banana?
Published: February 2014
Is Warm Liquid Optional When Baking Bread?
Many bread recipes call for heating the milk (or another liquid) before combining it with the yeast. Is this step optional?
Published: December 2013
Can Almond Flour Be Substituted for Wheat Flour?
Is “almond flour” just ground-up almonds? Can it be used in place of flour in cakes?
Published: October 2013
Why You Shouldn't Grease a Tube Pan for Angel Food Cake
You don't want your cake to slip out of the pan when it's cooling, do you?
Published: October 2013
Substituting Coconut Oil for Shortening in Pie Crust
Can coconut oil be substituted for shortening in pie crust recipes that call for both shortening and butter?
Published: February 2013
Can Applesauce be Substituted for Oil in Box-Mix Brownies?
Can applesauce be substituted for oil in box-mix brownies?
Published: February 2013
Can You Infuse Flavor into Brown Sugar with Spent Vanilla Pods?
We add spent vanilla beans to white sugar in order to make vanilla sugar. Does this work with brown sugar?
Published: December 2012
All chocolate starts with the cacao bean. From there, different processing, flavorings, ingredients, and percentages of cocoa solids and cocoa butter can produc…
Published: December 2012
Are Turbinado, Demerara, and Sugar in the Raw Interchangable?
What’s the difference between turbinado, Demerara, and Sugar in the Raw? Are they interchangeable?
Published: February 2012
How to Freeze Bread
Is it better to freeze a loaf of bread sliced or whole? Does sliced translate to more freezer damage?
Published: December 2011
Brown Sugar Substitute
Is there a viable substitution for brown sugar?
Published: October 2011
Improperly Cooked Cookies
Why do some cookies make burn on the bottom and look undercooked on the top?
Published: August 2011
Cake Pan Preparation
Cake recipes call for different pan preparations (greasing, flouring, papering). Which is best?
Published: August 2011
Cookie Storage
What’s the best way to store chewy cookies so they don’t dry out?
Published: June 2011
Egg Washes
Pie recipes call for egg washes of all sorts. Does it matter what I brush my pie crust with?
Published: April 2011
Gluten-Free vs. Regular Flour
Can I substitute gluten-free flour for regular flour? 
Published: April 2011
Bittersweet vs. Semisweet Chocolate
What’s the difference between bittersweet and semisweet chocolate?
Published: April 2011
Homemade Panko Crumbs
We love the crunch that panko crumbs give fried food and wondered if we could make our own version at home. 
Published: April 2011
Avoid These Layer Cake Mistakes
These two common baking mistakes can compromise the success of your layer cake.
Published: February 2011
Twelve Steps to Perfect Layer Cake
A layer cake is the crowning glory of American baking. Fortunately, making one needn’t be intimidating. With these steps, you’ll produce a moist, tender, fine-c…