Kitchen Shrink: Answers to ‘What’s your baking I.Q.?’



Let’s continue the dialogue from last week’s column with the answers to the baking quiz. (You can find Part 1 at

Multiple Choice

1. a) Baking soda, which is an alkaline needs an acid like lemon juice, buttermilk, or molasses to activate its leavening properties, otherwise the baked good will turn out pancake flat. While baking soda and baking powder are similar in appearance and principles they are not interchangeable since baking powder already contains an acidic component.

2. c) Ghee, a type of clarified butter native to India is free of the milk sugar lactose, hydrogenated oils, and trans fats. With high smoke point, ghee doesn’t burn easily like traditional butters when used to sauté or fry, but its low moisture and dairy content tend to make crusts dry and unappetizing.

3. d) All of the above. All unsalted butters, along with rich, European-style cultured butter are a pastry chef’s best friend for flaky crusts, moist, luscious cakes and chewy cookies, while also keeping a tight reign on sodium levels.

4. d) Cellulose-based parchment paper is an indispensible tool used to line baking sheets and pans to prevent sticking, spreading and burning of cookies and other assorted indulgences, and allow even baking. But if you use parchment paper for broiling or barbecuing make sure you have a fire extinguisher on hand.

5. e) All of the above are good methods for determining the doneness of a cake: insert a long toothpick in the center to see if it comes out clean; take its temperature, which should reach 210 degrees F; gently press with fingertip to see if it bounces back; or eyeball for golden color, and edges separating from the pan.

6. For best baking results e). It’s critical to preheat the oven before placing the pan of raw dough on the rack for seamless chemical reactions to produce a flawless product. You can also set the temp higher than the recipe suggests to compensate for the readjusting period when the oven door opens, then turn back down to recommended temp. As well, freezing dry yeast will help preserve its leavening powers.

7. e) Brown sugar, which gets its moist texture, caramelly taste and amber color from molasses that coats each crystal tends to harden when exposed to air. To replenish moisture and soften the sugar add a slice of fresh bread, a couple of marshmallows or an apple chunk to the canister or bag overnight.

8. c) Do-it-yourself buttermilk can be made by adding one tablespoon of lemon juice to one cup of whole milk until it curdles.


1. Rainy days are bad baking days as high humidity tinkers with dough’s ability to rise. True.

2. Baking with dark-colored pans will prevent cookies from burning. False, as these will actually encourage burning.

3. If not specified in the recipe, baking ingredients like butter and eggs should be used at room temperature (70 degrees F). True. A quick way to bring eggs to room temperature is to place in a bowl of warm water for several minutes.

4. Brush an egg wash (egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water) on a pie crust to prevent it from burning. False. The egg wash’s job is to create a glistening shine and golden color.

5. Pour, don’t scoop wet and dry ingredients into measuring cups for best accuracy. True, always pour as scooping tends to pack down and increase the ingredient’s volume.

6. When baking cookies, use cool baking sheets for each fresh batch. True, to prevent ingredients from melting on a hot sheet.

7. One stick of butter is equivalent to 1/2 cup or 1/4 pound. True, since one pound measures 2 cups, and there are four sticks per pound.

8. One tablespoon equals 4 teaspoons. False. The equivalent is 3 teaspoons.

9. Nut flours with high oil content must be refrigerated to prevent spoilage. True, and freezing will extend its shelf life.

10. To zest an orange or lemon squeeze juice from pulp. False. The zest is the oily rind from a citrus fruit. First wash the fruit, then use a zesting microplane to gently shave the rind, careful not to remove the bitter, white pith beneath.


Recipe: Creamed Citrus Butter

Ingredients: 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature); 4 tablespoons orange blossom honey; zest from one Meyer lemon and tangerine; pinch of sea salt; cayenne pepper to taste.

Method: In a mixing bowl using a wooden spoon cream butter with honey, zests and seasonings. Transfer to large ramekin, cover and chill.

Catharine Kaufman can be reached by e-mail: