Clever and useful tips for your kitchen.
Tweezers are not your typical baking utensil, but you’ll find them incredibly useful for delicate and intricate decorating work. Keep a dedicated pair of tweezers in your top drawer for all those times when your fingers are feeling a little awkward!read less
I often get asked about the difference between granulated sugar and caster sugar and which is best used for when baking…so here’s the low-down:
The main difference between granulated (also know as white table sugar) and caster (also know as super-fine in North America) sugar is the size of the grain. Granulated is larger and more coarse (I once read that granulated is about 0.5mm in diameter while caster is about 0.35mm in diameter, although I’m not really sure who would measure them!). Because of this caster sugar is generally the most versatile and preferred of the two when baking – its small granules mixes more easily and dissolve more readily when combined with other ingredients giving biscuits, cakes, pastries etc. a more even, less coarse texture. You may have noticed if you have made a cake with granulated sugar that it sometimes can have a ‘speckled’ appearance – this is the undissolved sugar in the batter. Caster sugar is also best to use when making meringues and pavlova because of its ability to dissolve more quickly. Granulated sugar however is great when making toffee (it is less likely to crystalize), in general cooking and in baking when your want a slightly coarser texture (for example, I often make a traditional Scottish shortbread that has a better, more suitable texture when made with granulated sugar). My advise is to use whichever sugar is specified in the recipe and if you don’t have caster sugar in your cupboard you can always make it by processing granulated sugar in a food processor using the pulse button until finely ground.read less
Don't throw really ripe bananas in the bin if you aren't going to use them straight away - throw them in the freezer instead, skin and all, so they are ready to use when you next want to make a banana cake or banana bread. Remove the skin with a knife while still frozen, slice and then mash. If you are a little more organised you can of course mash them and pop into an airtight container before you freeze them.read less
When making pastry, such as a shortcrust, by hand make sure you only use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour.read more
When making pastry, such as a shortcrust, by hand make sure you only use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour. Avoid using the whole of your hands as the palm is the warmest part and can melt the butter which, in turn, may cause your finished pastry to be heavy and tough. Rub the butter chunks briefly between your fingertips, breaking it into smaller pieces while coating with the flour rather than rubbing them together. Also, keep the palms of your hands facing upwards, as this will help with the action of breaking up the butter chunks, and lift the mixture high out of the bowl as this will aerate the mixture and help give it a light texture when baked. This is a great technique to keep in mind when making scones and pastry.