Here is a quick reference guide of baking tips and Q&A.
Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder: Both are leavening agents, but what’s the difference between the two?
Baking Soda: This will create leavening on its own when it is heated, but unless it is balanced with an acidic ingredient, the resulting taste may be metallic (it is alkaline).
Baking Powder: This is a mixture of baking soda and a dry acid (eg., cream of tartar, corn starch, etc.) to help keep the two separate and dry. Most baking powders on the market are “double acting”, meaning that some leavening occurs as soon as the baking powder gets wet, and the rest of the leavening occurs when it is heated.
Different types of flour:
All-Purpose Flour (or Plain Flour): This flour is the most widely used of all flours. It is made from a combination of hard and soft wheat. This type of flour can be used universally for a wide range of baked products – yeast breads, cakes, cookies and pastries.
Almond Flour: Made from finely ground, blanched almonds (no skins). Almond meal is generally coarser than almond flour, and usually have skins on when they are ground.
Bread Flour: Similar to all-purpose flour, but it has a higher gluten content, which makes it optimal for making yeast breads.
Cake Flour: This is a fine-textured, low-protein content flour, milled from soft wheat. Cake flour has a higher percentage of starch and less protein than bread flour, which keeps cakes and pastries tender and delicate. This type of flour is used to make all types of baked goods including cakes, cookies, crackers, quick breads and some types of pastry. (One cup of cake flour can be made by measuring 1 cup all-purpose flour, removing 2 tablespoons of flour and replacing that with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.)
Conventional Oven vs. Convection Oven:
Convection ovens have a fan and exhaust system that blows hot air within the oven. Baking with a conventional oven does not utilize these features. According to the reliable Internet, when using the convection setting for recipes that do not specifically say to use convection, set the oven temperature 25 degrees F lower than what is stated, but keep the same bake time.
Convection baking is good for the following: Roasting, pies, pastries, cookies, foods that are cooked covered (moisture loss is not an issue, so you might as well cook on convection since it’ll cook faster), toasting, and dehydrating.
Convection oven is not good for the following: Custards, flans, souffles, cakes, quick breads, and breads (generally foods that start as a batter (as opposed to dough). These foods are delicate and may end up lopsided because of the oven fan.