Basic Ingredients


Apples When choosing apples look for well-colored, firm apples with a fresh smell, never musty.  Apples should be smooth and free of soft spots or holes.  When baking with apples using a blend of tart and sweet or spicy and mild will give your baked goods added flavor, texture and dimension.  Apples can be baked, frittered, poached, saut?d,  and steamed....  More on Apples

Baking Powder and Baking Soda Both baking powder and baking soda are chemical leavening agents that cause batters to rise when baked.  The leavener enlarges the bubbles which are already present in the batter produced through creaming of ingredients.... More on Baking Powder and Baking Soda

Blueberries Most of the blueberries sold in grocery stores are cultivated.  When choosing blueberries look for firm, plump, fragrant, dark blue berries with a dusty white bloom.  The white bloom is the blueberry's natural protection against the sun and is a sign of freshness.  Always check the underside of the container for any wet spots or staining.  Discard any soft, moldy, or crushed berries.....More on Blueberries

Butter Butter is produced by churning cream until the fats separate from the liquid (buttermilk) and the butter is in a semi-solid state. In North America butter must contain at least 80 percent butterfat, a maximum of 16% water and 2% milk solids.... More on Butter

Chocolate Chocolate is made from a blend of different types of cocoa beans.  The blends with higher amounts of Criollo and/or Triniatrio beans will have a more aromatic and complex flavor.....  More on Chocolate  

Also, information on Chocolate Chips Cocoa Butter Cocoa Powder Couverture or Chocolate Coating German Sweet Milk Semi-Sweet or Bittersweet Unsweetened White

Cranberries This small, firm, smooth-skinned, shiny red, round to oval-shaped berry is also known as the craneberry, bounceberry, bearberry, cowberry, or lingonberry.  The tartness of the cranberry make it one of the few berries never to be eaten raw.   They are used in both sweet and savory dishes, as well as juices.......More on Cranberries

Cream Cream is the fat that rises to the top of whole milk. Heavy cream or heavy "whipping" cream, has 36 - 40% butterfat and when whipped it holds its form and doubles in volume. Heavy cream is used for filling and decorating pastries....  More on Cream

Eggs Eggs, as well as flour, are the structural ingredients in baking. Eggs provide leavening; add color, texture, flavor and richness to the batter. They are very important in helping to bind all the other ingredients together. Beaten eggs are a leavening agent as they incorporate air into the batter, which will expand in the oven and cause the cake to rise.... More on Eggs

Flour When used in baking flour contributes body and structure, texture and flavor to baked goods. The type of flour used will ultimately affect the finished product. Flour contains protein and when it comes in contact with water and heat it produces gluten, which gives elasticity and strength to baked goods.... More on Flour

Lemons When choosing lemons look for ones that are fragrant with brightly colored oily yellow skin, no green spots or blemishes, firm, plump, and heavy for their size.  Avoid lemons that have blemishes, soft spots, or are hard and wrinkled.  If removing the outer rind (zest) make sure you wash the lemon thoroughly (soap and water is best) as some commercially sold lemons are sprayed with insecticide.... More on Lemons 

Nuts Nuts are sold in various forms: shelled and unshelled; raw, toasted, toasted and salted, smoked, candied and with various flavorings. To toast the nuts, spread on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree F (180 degree C) oven for anywhere between 8-20 minutes.... More on Nuts

Also, information on  Almonds Brazil Nuts Cashews Chestnuts Coconuts Hazelnuts Macadamia Nuts Peanuts Pecans Pine nuts Pistachios Walnuts

Peaches When choosing peaches look for fragrant, smooth, firm and brightly-colored fruit that gives slightly to gentle palm pressure.  Avoid hard wrinkled peaches or ones with soft spots, blemishes or green tinges (a sign that the fruit was picked too early).  The amount of red blush on a peach is a sign of its variety, not its ripeness.... More on Peaches

Raspberries When buying raspberries look for fragrant, deeply colored, plump and juicy berries without the cores attached.  If the core is still attached the raspberry was picked too early and the berry will be sour.  Avoid berries that are soft and mushy or have any bruises, black spots or mold.  Always check the underside of the container to make sure there are no squashed berries or red stains................More on Raspberries 

Rhubarb  The rhubarb you find in markets today can be either field grown or hothouse grown.  Field grown rhubarb is identified by its bright rosy red and green tinged stalks with green leaves and has a very pronounced tart flavor.  It is available from late winter to early summer.  Hothouse rhubarb, on the other hand, has pale pink to pale red stalks and yellow green leaves.  The stalks are not as tart as field grown but has the advantage of being available year round..........More on Rhubarb

 Strawberries When choosing strawberries look for fragrant, plump, firm, uniformly sized, bright-red berries with no white or green "shoulders" at the stem end.  The green leaf-like cap or hull should still be attached and not brown or wilted.  There should be no soft spots, bruising or mildew.... More on Strawberries

Sugars When using sugar most people think of it only as a sweetener.  For example, adding a teaspoon to your coffee or sprinkling a little over strawberries.  But when sugar is used in baking its role becomes more complex as it also adds volume, tenderness, texture, color, and acts as a preservative.... More on Sugars

Vanilla Vanilla, is the fruit of a thick green orchid vine (v. planifolia) that grows wild on the edge of the Mexican tropical forests.  Pure vanilla, with its wonderful aromatic flavor, is the most widely used flavoring in pastries, confections, and other desserts.  It is the second most expensive spice in the world, after saffron.  The three most common types of vanilla pods (beans) are: Madagascar or Bourbon- Madagascar vanilla pods, Mexican vanilla pods, and Tahitian vanilla pods.  Vanilla is sold in different forms: extract or essence, pods (beans), powdered,  or mixed with sugar called vanilla sugar.....More on Vanilla

Yeast Baker's yeast, like baking powder and baking soda, is used to leavened baked goods (breads, Danish pastries, brioche, croissants).  The difference between these two leaveners is that baking powder/soda react chemically to produce the carbon dioxide that makes the baked goods rise.  Yeast, on the other hand, is a living organism and the carbon dioxide it produces is the result of the yeast feeding on the dough.  The two forms of baker's yeast are; compressed cakes (also called fresh yeast) and dehydrated granules (dry yeast)......More on Yeast