Baking For Dummies
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You start a recipe and suddenly realize you’re missing an ingredient! Oh no, what can you do? Before dashing out to the market, check out this Cheat Sheet for simple substitutions when you’re in a baking jam.

Or, perhaps, you want some great resources for help when you’re baking. You’ve come to the right place.

Emergency substitutions when baking

You may be making a batch of cookies or a cake and find out you’re out of an ingredient when you would have sworn you had plenty of it in your pantry. You can use these substitutions when you’re in a bind:

  • 1 cup cake flour = 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour = 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour plus ½ teaspoon baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt 1 cup granulated sugar = 1 cup brown sugar or 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar = ½ cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons molasses 1 package active dry yeast = 1 cake compressed fresh yeast
  • 1 square unsweetened chocolate = 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup whole milk plus 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice. Stir and let stand 2 minutes or use 1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 cup plain yogurt = 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup whole milk = ½ cup evaporated milk plus ½ cup water. Or use dry milk and follow the package instructions to reconstitute the amount you need.
  • 1 cup raisins = 1 cup currants or other dried fruits such as cranberries, blueberries, and cherries 1 tablespoon cornstarch = 2 tablespoons flour (for thickening purposes)
  • 1 cup corn syrup = 1 cup sugar plus ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup honey = 1¼ cups granulated sugar plus ¼ cup liquid

Substituting pan sizes

Sometimes you just don’t have the right size on hand. If you substitute pan sizes, be sure to closely monitor the baking time of your items — it will most likely change.

If you substitute glass for metal pans, be sure to lower the baking temperature by 25 degrees.

Pan Size Capacity Substitutions
Rectangular 8 cups None
Rectangular 15 cups Two 9-inch rounds or three 8-inch rounds
Rectangular 8 cups None
Square 8 cups  loaf, or two 8-inch rounds
Square 10 cups None
Round 8-inch 5 cups  or  loaf
Round 9-inch 6 cups None

Equivalent measurements for common baking ingredients

While many bakers have a scale to help them along with these measurements, sometimes it’s nice just to have a quick reference of how many cups is equivalent to a pound or a pint. Check out the following:

  • Almonds, 1 pound = 3 cups whole, 4 cups slivered
  • Apples, 1 pound = 3 medium, 2¾ cups sliced
  • Apricots, dried, 1 pound = 2¾ cups, 5½ cups cooked
  • Bananas, fresh, 1 pound = 3 to 4; 1¾ cups mashed, 2 cups sliced
  • Blueberries, fresh, 1 pint = 2 cups
  • Blueberries, frozen, 10 ounces = 1½ cups
  • Butter, 1 pound = 2 cups
  • Butter, 1 stick = 8 tablespoons, ½ cup
  • Cherries, fresh, 1 pound = 2½ to 3 cups pitted
  • Chocolate wafers, 18 wafers = 1 cup crumbs
  • Chocolate chips, 6 ounces = 1 cup
  • Cranberries, 1 pound = 3 cups
  • Cream (heavy, sour, half and half, light), ½ pint = 1 cup
  • Cream (heavy), ½ pint = 2 cups whipped
  • Flour, all-purpose, 1 pound = 3 cups sifted
  • Flour, cake, 1 pound = 4½ to 5 cups sifted
  • Graham crackers, 15 = 1 cup crumbs
  • Lemons, 1 medium = 3 tablespoons juice, 2 to 3 teaspoons zest
  • Maple syrup, 16 fluid ounces = 2 cups
  • Milk, whole, 1 quart = 4 cups
  • Oats, rolled, 1 pound = 5 cups
  • Oil, 1 quart = 5 cups
  • Peaches (fresh), 1 pound = 4 medium, 2½ cups chopped
  • Peaches (frozen), 10 ounces = 1⅛ cups slices and juice
  • Pumpkin (fresh), 1 pound = 1 cup cooked and mashed
  • Raspberries, 1 pint = scant 1½ cups
  • Shortening, 1 pound = 2 cups
  • Strawberries, 1 pint = 2½ cups sliced
  • Sugar, granulated, 1 pound = 2 cups
  • Sugar, brown, 1 pound = 2¼ cups packed
  • Sugar, confectioners’, 1 pound = 3½ to 4 cups
  • Vanilla wafers, 22 wafers = 1 cup crumbs
  • Walnuts, 1 pound = 3¾ cups halves, 3½ cups chopped
  • Yeast, ¼-ounce package = 1 scant tablespoon

Understanding baking measurements

Imperial measurements can be confusing, and not everyone is familiar with how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon or tablespoons in a cup. The following reference is also useful if you need to decrease or increase a recipe.

  • Dash = 2 or 3 drops (liquid) or less than ⅛ teaspoon (dry)
  • 1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons or ½ ounce
  • 2 tablespoons = 1 ounce
  • ¼ cup = 4 tablespoons or 2 ounces
  • ⅓ cup = 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon
  • ½ cup = 8 tablespoons or 4 ounces
  • 1 cup = 16 tablespoons or 8 ounces
  • 1 pint = 2 cups or 16 ounces or 1 pound
  • 1 quart = 4 cups or 2 pints
  • 1 gallon = 4 quarts
  • 1 pound = 16 ounces

10 great baking resources

These sources offer not only great baking goods, but also the most essential ingredient of any recipe — inspiration!

Chef Supply: If you’re looking to purchase or upgrade your kitchen equipment, start with Chef Supply. The prices are better than department store prices and most online retailers. The company is based in Pennsylvania and has good customer service. You can find your choice of stand mixers, quality food processors, and many great baking supplies — including my favorite bakery-style hot mitts (that are extra-long to prevent oven burns).

Epicurious: This is a fantastic website for cooks of every skill level. Questions are answered, trends are tracked, and volumes of Gourmet and Bon Appétit recipes are cataloged. You’ll be exposed to much more than baking when you visit this site — and you may end up using it so often as a resource that you’ll end up bookmarking it in your browser.

You have access to a wealth of information at Epicurious. For example, when you click on Learn, you discover etiquette guides, expert advice, a food dictionary, technique videos, and references. You can explore more than 333,000 recipes, plus you can shop, learn about foods and beverages, and do much more. It’s a great tool for everyone who cooks!

King Arthur’s Flour Bakers: King Arthur’s Flour Bakers is a great catalog for bakers at any level. You can find a large variety of quality flours, dried fruits, quality chocolate, high quality flours, and some baking equipment — all at a reasonable cost. Even if you’re just curious about some specialty products, check out the King Arthur’s website (from which you can place an order). You can also call 800-827-6836.

Kitchen Kapers: Kitchen Kapers is a regional retail store that offers well-priced baking equipment and ingredients, plus many other kitchen supplies. Although you can only go in person to stores located in the New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and northern Delaware area, you can experience the great goods, prices, and customer service via the catalog and website (check out the nice sale items, too). If you live in the New Jersey/Philadelphia area, Kitchen Kapers also offers cooking classes at select retail stores. Visit the website or call 800-455-5567.

NY Cake and Baking Distributors: This store has just about every baking supply and ingredient known to man. That may be a small exaggeration, but it is an amazing place. It sells all the usual baking supplies, plus it has special decorating supplies and equipment, including edible gold and silver decorating dust and paste, a variety of quality chocolate supplies, a variety of coloring pastes and powders, videos, books, and more. If there were a candy store for bakers, this would be it.

Cook’s Warehouse: An online retailer, as well as an in-person culinary experience, Cook’s Warehouse is a great resource to keep on hand. Based in Chamblee, Georgia, they offer culinary classes to include children’s camps. Their online store also offers price matching.

Williams-Sonoma: Chances are, you’re acquainted with the Williams-Sonoma catalog — and you also can find its stores in shopping centers across the United States. Williams-Sonoma offers an assortment of higher-end cooking and baking supplies (plus, the catalog offers you recipes to use with the equipment). It sells a host of seasonal baking supplies and ideas. Although you may find lower prices elsewhere, Williams-Sonoma does offer nationwide retail stores, so you can go in and shop around for what you need. It’s also a good source for specialty ingredients.

Wilton: If you’re looking for any baking supply (including specialty shaped pans), sign up online for the Wilton catalogue, or search for recipes, ideas, or decorating tips. Wilton has been in the baking business for many decades and is a name well trusted for quality products.

Sur La Table: Sur La Table has taken off as a reliable baking resource, offering in-store culinary classes, online resources, and high-quality products. If you live near a store, pop into the store and see which culinary classes they’re offering. Even if you don’t, visit the website.

Amazon: If you want something quickly and with ease, Amazon delivers. The prices and efficiency of Amazon are hard to beat. When I struggle to find a specialty product or tool, I’ll look on Amazon to find it.


About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Wendy Jo Peterson is a registered dietitian with more than 20 years of professional experience. She is the author of Meal Prep Cookbook For Dummies and Bread Making For Dummies, and coauthor of Air Fryer Cookbook For Dummies, Instant Pot Cookbook For Dummies, and Mediterranean Diet Cookbook For Dummies.

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