Can you substitute baking soda for baking powder (and vice versa)?
No, no, no, no, no. And yes. Both substances are leavening agents, meaning they make baked goods rise, and baking powder contains baking soda, but they are two different products. Baking soda can be bitter unless combined with an acidic ingredient; baking powder is neutral, as it contains acidic cream of tartar. In a pinch, baking powder can replace baking soda, though be forewarned it may change the finished product. Baking soda can’t replace baking powder unless you also add cream of tartar (2:1).
What’s the difference between a boil, a rolling boil, and a simmer?
A chef friend of mine explains it this way: Imagine the pot is a hot tub and the bubbles are (scantily clad, highly attractive) people. A simmer is when the water is warm and the bubbles are just hanging out around the sides of the tub. A boil is when the water is so hot that people are kind of jumping around the tub. A rolling boil is when the people are trying to leap out of the tub for fear of being burned alive.
How do you keep your cookies from spreading too thin?
The culprit is likely your butter. Softening butter in the microwave is a surefire way to flatten cookies into pancakes. Instead, let the butter sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. To speed the softening process, cut it into tablespoon-size pieces. It should be yielding to a finger but not melted.
What’s the best way to measure dry ingredients?
Wars have been fought over the best way to measure dry ingredients (and the hardcore get around it by weighing their ingredients rather than measuring by volume). The bakers I know prefer the spooning method (using a separate cup or spoon to shovel flour into the measuring cup) to the pouring method or the scooping method. Do not pack the ingredient down. Level with the flat edge of a knife.
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