Leavening agents play a huge role in baking. Without them, we would be left with dense, flat, and low-volume baked goods. When I first learned about the importance of leaveners I had such an aha moment. Be sure to read this if you don’t know the difference between baking powder and baking soda…
Gluten has become a rather hot topic lately, as gluten-free diets are becoming increasingly popular. This gluten-free trend has sparked some pretty heated debates; however, there isn’t enough evidence to conclude that gluten-free should be for everyone. A strict gluten-free diet is absolutely necessary for some: people who suffer from celiac disease are unable to process gluten properly, resulting in damage to the small intestine. More and more people without the disease, however, are turning to gluten-free foods as well.
While I eat gluten myself, I have experimented with gluten-free baking. This has helped me realize what a huge role it plays in baked goods.
Not all Cups are Created Equal
Learning to bake as a child in Canada, I was always taught to measure ingredients in cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons. This is not surprising, since the majority of North American cookbooks list ingredients with these measurements. In order to keep measurements as accurate as possible, I was taught to scoop up ingredients and then level them with the back of a butter knife. My baking endeavours always seemed quite successful using this method (unlike my cooking endeavours but let’s not get into that) so I never gave much thought to using measuring cups. That is, until I moved to Europe. All of a sudden, I didn’t own measuring cups anymore and no stores seemed to sell them (my roommate ended up having some sent over from Canada.) During this brief period when I was measuring cup-less, I still managed to cope using a measuring jug with millilitres. Knowing that 1 cup = 250 mL, I thought that using my measuring jug would be simple enough, until I realized that 1 Canadian cup and 1 American cup are not actually the same thing. After some Wikipedia research, and since it’s on Wikipedia, it must be true, I learned that 1 cup can vary between 200 – 284 mL depending on which country you are in. Well that is just great.
Here are some common conversions between volumes. I’m going by the Canadian cup here (which is 250 mL.) If you aren’t from Canada, the cup you are used to might be different. If you want to see a Wikipedia article on all the different cups out there, click here. Apparently having just one type of cup is too easy.