Baking & Desserts

209 Helpful Cooking Tips

Save Your Sourdough Starter Leftovers
Save Your Sourdough Starter Leftovers
This flavorful leftover culture can be used as backup—or to add tang in all sorts of applications.
Published: August 2020
How to Substitute Cultured Dairy Products
Everybody does it (even though they shouldn't). Here are some tips for doing it well.
Published: May 2005
Almond Flour vs. Almond Meal
There's no legal distinction—but here's what you can typically expect.
Published: November 2018
Visual Guide to Judging Bread Doneness
Visual Guide to Judging Bread Doneness
When baking bread, trust your eyes first and foremost.
Published: November 2018
How to Substitute Vanilla Extract
Here's a sneaky ingredient to use in a pinch.
Published: November 2018
How to Make the Best Whole-Wheat Pie Dough
How to Make the Best Whole-Wheat Pie Dough
Can you make pie crust that's just as flaky and tender using whole-wheat flour or rye flour? You bet. 
Published: September 2018
Why Use Ice Water in Bread Dough Recipes?
Why Use Ice Water in Bread Dough Recipes?
Here's why colder water makes better dough for yeasted bread and pizza.
Published: September 2018
Don't Toss Expired Cocoa Powder
We ran a couple of kitchen tests to see if really old cocoa powder was still fine to use.
Published: July 2018
What To Do With Beans After Using Them as Pie Weights
Dried beans are a great alternative to pie weights when blind-baking a pie crust. Can you cook and eat them after using them to blind bake a pie?
Published: March 2018
Melting Wafers: The Key to Easier Tempering?
They simplify the tempering process—but how do they taste?
Published: March 2018
How to Prevent Cracks in Pie Crust
Use these two tips to ensure your pie dough edges are entirely fray-free.
Published: January 2018
How to Achieve a Glossy Chocolate Coating
Avoid the thick and clunky chocolate coating with this guide to chocolate dipping.
Published: November 2017
Baking with Raw Sugars
We baked muffins, sugar cookies, layer cakes, and shortbread with granulated sugar and Demerara and turbinado sugars and compared the texture, flavor, and appea…
Published: September 2017
How to Divvy Up the Frosting for Layer Cakes
Here's the best way to divide up your frosting between layers.
Published: September 2017
Why You Should Weigh Confectioners' Sugar
If your goal is an icing with a graceful drizzling consistency, we strongly recommend that you weigh your confectioners’ sugar.
Published: September 2017
White Chocolate versus White Baking Chips
While developing the filling for our Fresh Fruit Tart, we found that fillings made with bars of white chocolate were too loose to slice neatly and couldn’t hold…
Published: July 2017
How to Dispose of Extra Sourdough Starter
What's the best way to dispose of sourdough starter?
Published: January 2017
The Ultimate Pizza Setup: Baking Stone Plus Baking Steel
We’re big fans of baking stones and steels for cooking pizza and bread, but this combo technique takes it to the next level.
Published: January 2017
Why You Should Fully Preheat Before Baking
We know it’s important to wait for the oven to fully preheat before we start baking, but sometimes we're guilty of jumping the gun and sliding food in early. We…
Published: January 2017
Why a Square Baking Stone Beats a Round One
While a round stone might seem practical since one of a baking stone’s most popular uses is baking pizzas, there are good reasons to opt for a rectangular model…
Published: November 2016
Keeping Cookies Ship-Shape
To find out how to ship cookies and bars so that they arrive in perfect condition, we made nine varieties and boxed them up in various combinations using differ…
Published: November 2016
Sourdough Starter Rescue Remedy
Fortunately, a little love is all it usually takes to revive an ailing starter.
Published: November 2016
From Dinner Rolls to Top-loading Buns
Top-loading buns, which are good for lobster rolls and hot dogs can be hard to find outside New England. Here's how to make them.
Published: July 2016
Cake That Holds Up—and Cake That Doesn't
The structure of a genoise cake comes from abundant egg proteins that unwind and link with each other when the eggs are whipped and form a strong mesh once bake…
Published: May 2016
Whipping Whites and Sugar: Timing Matters
Meringue cookies depend on whipped egg whites for both leavening and structure. The sugar that’s added to the whites contributes not only sweetness but also sta…
Published: May 2016
A Tidy Way to Portion Sticky Buns
When making our Cook's Illustrated Sticky Buns, cutting the rolled dough cylinder into buns can be tricky. Here’s how we make a tidier, easier job of it.
Published: May 2016
For Identical Loaves and Layers, Use a Scale
It’s easy and efficient to mix up a double or triple batch of quick bread in a big bowl, but it’s important to distribute the batter evenly among the pans, or a…
Published: January 2016
Frosting Cakes with Flair
Here are three easy techniques for finishing layer cakes with a polished look.
Published: September 2015
A Better Way to Keep Dough from Sticking
We discovered a better way to keep dough from sticking when rolling it out.
Published: September 2015
Low-Fat versus Nonfat Buttermilk
Are low-fat and nonfat buttermilk interchangeable in recipes?
Published: September 2015
The Best Way to Grease a Cake Pan
The Best Way to Grease a Cake Pan
For a clean release, grease, flour—and parchment—are key.
Published: April 2019
How to Make Clarified Butter
Here's our preferred method for making clarified butter.
Published: July 2015
Cracks in Your Pie Crust? Patch without Scraps
If cracks or holes form in your pie crust during prebaking, what's the best way to fix them?
Published: July 2015
Clarified Butter: A Substitute for Shortening?
We wondered whether clarified butter or ghee, a type of clarified butter popular in Indian cooking, might make a worthy substitute in pie dough.
Published: July 2015
Cold Fermentation and Flavor in Yeasted Breads
Cold Fermentation and Flavor in Yeasted Breads
In yeasted dough recipes, fermentation is a key step in building flavor. Here's how it works.
Published: March 2015
Converting Muffins Into Loaves of Quick Bread
We wanted to figure out if a simple formula could convert a variety of muffin recipes to loaf recipes.
Published: March 2015