There are few baked goods and/or frostings not improved by the addition of brown sugar but if your kitchen is anything like mine — that is, woefully understocked most of the time — you’ve probably needed it before and not had it. Fortunately, you can make your own with a combination of molasses and regular sugar. To make one cup of light brown sugar, combine 1 cup granulated sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses; to make one cup of dark brown sugar, combine 1 cup granulated sugar with 1/4 cup molasses; the food processor works great for this, if you have one. Now bring on those brown sugar shorties!
Does your grocery store have the nerve to inconsistently stock cake flour? Does it drive you crazy to see recipe after recipe that calls for it, and wonder what else you can use? Good news: Cake flour is really easy to make at home. Add two tablespoons of corn starch to each cup of regular flour and sift this mixture together twice. Measure your cups of flour from this mixture.
So you’ve made some fruit scones or peach cupcakes and you notice that the end product is streaked blue and green. Sound familiar? In almost every case, it’s not you, it’s your baking powder. Baking powder with aluminum in it reacts to acidic ingredients, causing this discoloration and what many people find to be a “tinny” or metallic taste. Fortunately, this is as easy to rectify as ditching your baking powder for an aluminum-free brand, such as Rumford (the brand also makes Clabber Girl baking powder, which, oddly, does contain aluminum) or Bob’s Red Mill.
The biggest different between all-purpose and bread flour is the amount of gluten: bread flour has more of it. But it may seem annoying to have to keep a giant bag of bread flour around if you’re only an occasional bread-baker. Enter a product known as a “gluten additive” or gluten flour, something you can usually add one tablespoon of to each cup of all-purpose flour to turn it into bread flour. Think of all the cabinet space you’ll save!
If I could ice every cake in whipped cream, I would. But, because it is whipped with air alone, it doesn’t stay thick over many hours. One way to keep it stable is to dissolve 1 teaspoon of gelatin in 2 tablespoons of boiling water, cool it to room temperature and drizzle it into your whipping cream when it is halfway thickened. Then, whip it a little longer than usual — until it holds medium-firm peaks.