Bain-marie: A water bath, used to control the cooking of custards etc., and to keep delicate sauces warm. A bowl over a pan of simmering or hot water functions as a bain-marie on the hob; for the oven a baking dish may be placed in a roasting pan containing hot water.

Bake blind: To bake empty pastry cases, either partially or fully, before adding the filling. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with ceramic baking beans or dried pulses before baking.

Blanch: To plunge an ingredient briefly into boiling water, usually for 30-60 seconds, then refresh in cold water to preserve their colour or parcook them.

Butter, clarified: To prepare, melt butter very gently in a saucepan and then bring it to the boil. Ladle the clear butter through a muslin-lined sieve, leaving the milky deposit in the bottom of the pan.


Caramelise: To heat sugar until it dissolves and forms a caramel. Also used to describe cooking foods until their natural sugars or a sugar topping has browned.

Chinois: A conical strainer used to sieve a mixture to make it smooth.

Coulis: A thin purée, usually of fruit mixed with a little sugar syrup, of a pouring consistency.

Crimp: To pinch up the border of a tart with a pastry crimper or between your index finger and thumb.


Eggwash: An egg yolk lightly beaten with 1 tbsp milk, used to lightly brush dough before baking.


Foncer: To line a mould or tin with rolled-out pastry.


Glaze: To brush or dust pastry or a tart filling with a mixture to give colour and shine. Eggwash is often used as a glaze. Icing sugar may be sprinkled over puff pastry, then caramelised in a hot oven to glaze.


Knock back: To return risen dough to its original volume by lifting it with your lightly floured hand and quickly flipping it over 2 or 3 times.


Reduce: To boil a liquor steadily to reduce and thicken it by evaporating some of the water.

Refresh: To immerse food in cold water after blanching to stop the cooking process, preserving colour and texture.


Toasting nuts: Place the nuts on a baking tray in the oven at 180°C/ Gas 4 for 10 minutes or until evenly coloured, shaking occasionally.


Zest: To pare orange, lemon or lime zest with a zester very thinly, leaving behind all the bitter white pith.