Question: When a recipe calls for greasing a baking pan, can I use Pam?
Answer: Yes. Vegetable oil sprays are handy for greasing pans. Just be sure you don't use, say, a garlic-flavored spray in a chocolate-cake pan. When a recipe calls for greasing and flouring a baking pan, I use a combo spray that contains both. In fact, I use the combo spray for all baked goods. It is available in supermarkets near the vegetable oil sprays.
By the book: The editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine have published Baking Illustrated (America's Test Kitchen; $35), a massive tome featuring 350 recipes for desserts and other baked goods, step-by-step "how-to" illustrations and photos, explanatory notes on flour and other staples and more.
Baking tip: One of the useful features in Baking Illustrated is "Common Baking Problems and How to Avoid Them." No. 1 on the list of eight tips: "Turn on the oven." Most ovens take at least 15 minutes to reach the desired temperature, the editors say.
Cool tool: Once you get the oven on, Cook's Illustrated editors recommend checking your oven temperature occasionally. In a test of 16 home ovens, some varied as much as 50 degrees in either direction. Baking Illustrated recommends two inexpensive oven thermometers to calibrate home ovens: the Taylor Classic Oven Guide Thermometer and the Component Design Magnet Mounted Oven Thermometer. Available at cookware stores, both are priced under $15.
Soup for a cause: Inter Parish Ministry sponsors "Soup Bowl Celebration," noon-2 p.m. Saturday at Peterloon in Indian Hill. Those attending get to eat soup, desserts and take home a soup bowl hand-painted by a local artist. Proceeds benefit Inter Parish Ministry, which serves low-income families and individuals. Cost: $25. Reservations required: 561-3932.
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