Culinary Terms and Methods
Mrs. Belle De Graf was the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle's Cooking Information Page, Director of Domestic Science, California Prune & Apricot Growers Association, and Instructor, U.S. Naval Reserves, New York City.
Terminology for cooking has changed little since the 1920s, and Mr. De Graf provides an easy to follow description that can be your recipe for success in the kitchen.
The term mixing is a general one, and may mean stirring, beating, kneading, or folding and cutting, according to the dish under preparation and the quality and texture of the materials to be used.
Stirring is the most general method used. Liquids are stirred while cooking; thin batters, such as pancakes, are mixed by stirring with a spoon. Cereals, jams, sauces, etc., are all mixed by stirring.
Beating is the method used to lighten eggs, mix cakes, whip cream, etc. Beating may be done with a rotary egg beater, fork, egg whip or perforated wooden spoon.
If using an egg whip, fork, or wooden spoon, the mixture is beaten to enclose a quantity of air. When using a rotary egg beater the ingredients are well mixed and light, but not nearly so much air is beaten into the mixture as when using the egg whip.
Folding and Cutting
Folding and cutting are usually applied to the manner in which eggs are added to cake, muffin, or waffle batters, snuffles or puffy omelets. Sponge cakes made without baking powder depend upon the air beaten into the egg whites for lightness and texture, the air beaten into the eggs expanding with the heat of the oven.
This rule also applies to snuffles, prune whip, and puffy omelets. But unless extreme lightness is desired, eggs do not need to be beaten separately for muffin or waffle batters.
By folding and cutting, eggs are added carefully to the mixture, the batter being turned over the beaten eggs until all have been folded in. If the eggs are
stirred or beaten into the mixture, the result will not be as spongy and light.
When the white of eggs and cream are beaten light and then added to a mixture, they must be carefully folded into the ingredients; otherwise it is use less to beat them light; stirring or beating them into the mixture will undo all the previous beating. This method seems to be one of the least understood.
Kneading is applied to the manner in which stiff doughs are handled. This term usually refers to yeast mixtures. After the ingredients have been mixed, the dough is turned out on the molding board and kneaded. This is accomplished by slightly flouring the board and hands, then one half the dough is folded over the other half, pressing down with the ball of the hand.
The dough is turned constantly, and in this manner a new portion of dough is brought uppermost to fold over each time. This process is continued until the dough is smooth and elastic. Baking powder or soda raised doughs should be kneaded very lightly, if at all; otherwise they will not be light.
Rolling is quite different from all other processes, and is used in making pies, biscuits, cookies, dough nuts, rolls, tarts, etc. Pastry should be rolled and handled quickly, and should always be rolled in one direction, and the rolling done as lightly as possible.
Eggs and crumbs are used for croquettes, fish and other foods cooked in deep fat. The food to be fried is first dipped in fine bread or cracker crumbs, then in eggs, and in the crumbs a second time. The egg should be slightly beaten and one tablespoon of cold water added; or the egg white slightly beaten may be used instead of the whole egg.
Molding is used for charlotte russe, blanc mange, and gelatine mixtures. It also applies to certain types of frozen desserts. The mixture is poured into a wet mold or form, chilled, and then turned into the serving dish.
The mold should stand perfectly level during the chilling, and when ready to remove, run a sharp knife or spatula around the edge of the form, turn over on a flat serving dish, shake the mold or tap lightly on the bottom, when the food should unmold.
The form should always be thoroughly wet and cold when the mixture is poured into it. Dipping the mold in warm water for a second is another method of unmolding gelatine mixtures, or dipping in cold water to unmold frozen puddings.
Warm water will soften the geletine mixture just enough to unmold it easily, and the cold water is so much warmer than the frozen mixture, it will have the same effect.
De Graf, Belle, Mrs. De Graf's Cook Book, H. S. Crocker Co., Inc., San Francisco, 1922, P.14-15.