To cut food, often fresh herbs or dried fruit, with kitchen scissors into very small, uniform pieces, using short, quick strokes.

A batterlike mixture of yeast, flour, and liquid used in some bread recipes. The mixture is set aside until it bubbles and becomes foamy, which can be several hours or overnight. During this time, the sponge develops a tangy flavor; the remaining ingredients are added to the sponge, and the dough is kneaded and baked as usual.

To cook a food in the vapor given off by boiling water.

Sweeteners are essential for adding flavor, tenderness, and browning to baked desserts. They may either be granular, as in granulated white and brown sugars, or liquid, as in honey, corn syrup, and molasses.
Powdered (or confectioners’) sugar, another sweetener, is granulated sugar that has been milled to a fine powder, then mixed with cornstarch to prevent lumping. It’s best to sift powdered sugar before using to remix the sugar and cornstarch.

Vanilla bean
The pod of an orchid plant that is dried and cured. During curing, the pod turns a dark brown color and shrivels to the size of a pencil.

A condition in which liquid separates out of a solid food, such as jellies, custards, and meringues.

Wheat germ
The embryo or sprouting portion of the wheat kernel, sold both raw and toasted. It is extremely perishable. Once opened, store in the refrigerator no more than three months.

To beat a food lightly and rapidly using a wire whisk, rotary beater, or electric mixer to incorporate air into the mixture and increase its volume.

A kitchen utensil made of a group of looped wires held together by a long handle. Whisks are used in baking for whipping ingredients such as eggs and cream to incorporate air into them. Also refers to the process of whipping ingredients together.

Whole wheat flour
Unlike all-purpose and bread flours, whole wheat flour is ground from the complete wheat berry and contains the wheat germ as well as the wheat bran. It is coarser in texture and does not rise as well as all-purpose and bread flours. Store whole wheat flour in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to five months, or freeze for up to one year.

A tiny organism that feeds on sugar in dough (often bread dough) to make small carbon dioxide bubbles that get trapped in the dough and make it rise. It works slowly and helps to develop flavorful dough.

The colored outer portion of a citrus fruit peel. It is rich in fruit oils and often used as a seasoning. To remove the zest, use a grater, fruit zester, or vegetable peeler; be careful to avoid the bitter white membrane beneath the peel.

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