Originally Posted by pengyou
I have been baking for almost 30 years but in the past years, as I have tried to teach my Chinese friends how to bake I realize that I have learned a haphazard way to bake and would like to spruce up on my techniques.
The general rule that I learned is to mix dry ingredients together in one bowl and then moist in another. The exception to this rule is sugar, because it readily dissolves in liquids. Step 2, pour the dry into the wet and mix. Is this right? Does this still hold if using a stand mixer? I have a pretty powerful mixer.
Also, for sifting, I have often sifted flour to make sure there were no lumps but is sifting also useful to evenly distribute small powders like salt and baking soda throughout the flour? Suggestions are welcome, links are relished - yes I put pickle relish on my sausage links also ;)...recommendations for a good encyclopedia type book would be wonderful...especially if it were a video book.
Sifting flour deals with lumps and, as you say, helps mix in other dry ingredients such as spices, baking powder, salt, cocoa, etc., but it also lightens the flour and introduces air into the mixture. I always do it when baking.
As for a book to tell you how - you mean a proper cookery book (as opposed to a mere recipe book). "The Good Housekeeping Cookery Book" is good on technique and generations of housewives (am I allowed to use that word these days?) have sworn by it. I have a very old (1948) edition which tells you how to skin a rabbit as well as cook it. Modern editions don't go to those extremes but are very good on technique and why, as well as how, you do what you do.
Delia Smith's "Cookery Course" is another good one. Although written for the British market it might need a bit of translation ("Two nations divided by a common language"!!)