To make sure cakes come out of the pan easily, grease the pan with solid vegetable shortening instead of butter. Because of its relatively high water content, butter can leave gaps on the pan where the flour does not adhere–but your cake will.
Flour the sides of the pan after greasing. If the pan surface is slippery from greasing only, the cake can’t adhere to the side of the pan as it rises and won’t attain its full volume.
Line the bottom of cake pans with parchment paper to guarantee the cake’s easy removal.
If you don’t have a wire cake tester, insert a piece of raw spaghetti or other long, thin pasta in the center of the cake to test for doneness.
To prevent cracks in cheesecake:
After beating the cream cheese until light and fluffy, beat in the remaining ingredients just until incorporated. If you beat in excess air the cheesecake may puff dramatically in the oven then collapse toward the end of the baking period.
Run a knife between the edge of the cheesecake and the side of the pan as soon as you remove the cake from the oven; this allows the cake to pull away cleanly from the sides of pan as it contracts while cooling.
Longer, slower (lower temperature) baking minimizes cracks, too.
To keep sticky ingredients like molasses and corn syrup from sticking to the measuring cup: Lightly oil the inside of measuring cup before measuring.
Cake stuck to the pan? Dip the bottom of the pan in hot water, or, set it briefly on a warm (turned off) burner to soften hardened fat or sugar that may be causing the cake to adhere to the pan.
Roll cookie dough between sheets of plastic wrap: You can get the cookie dough as thin as you need it without having to use additional flour or scrape dough from your rolling surface.
To anchor mixing bowls: Twist a damp dish towel and wrap it tightly around the base, or, place a dry dishtowel over the mouth of a saucepan, and place the mixing bowl securely on top –either way, you can whisk and pour simultaneously!
To bring eggs to room temperature (they blend better with other ingredients at room temperature): Place them in a bowl of warm water for 10 to 15 minutes before using.
To separate eggs and get «clean» whites (whites with a bit of yolk or other fat in them won’t whip to their fullest volume): Work with 3 bowls. Crack 1 egg and drop the white into one bowl, the yolk in a second bowl. Crack the second egg and drop the white into the third, empty bowl; add the yolk to the first yolk.
Now transfer the second white, if it is yolk-free, to the first white. Repeat with as many eggs as the recipe calls for.
This way, even if you get a little bit of yolk into an egg white, that yolk does not contaminate the other whites. To remove a speck of yolk from the white, scoop it out with the edge of half of the broken eggshell.
To make 1 cup cookie or cracker crumbs for pie crusts use:
Chocolate wafer cookies: 20
Graham crackers: 15
Vanilla wafers: 30
From the “Recipe Writer’s Handbook” by Barabara Ostmann and Jane L. Baker, John Wiley and Sons, 2001.
To remove skin from hazelnuts: Roast nuts at 350 degrees or 10 to 15 minutes, or until the papery brown skin begins to crack and peel.
Transfer warm nuts to a clean dishtowel, fold the towel over the nuts and rub until the skin flakes off. If some skin clings to some of the nuts, scrape it off with the blade of a paring knife.