Differences Between UK & US Baking Ingredients
Different Names For Ingredients
Here's my article & handy table of the different names common baking ingredients are known by across the world & specifically in the UK & America. Never mistake a recipe ingredient again - know exactly what you need.
I have many baking friends & readers from the US & Canada, so I thought I would take the time to talk about the differences between UK & US/Canadian baking ingredients & the different names used. Likewise, if you watch US/Canadian food programs or are trying out a recipe with different ingredient names this should be beneficial too. With the Great British Bake Off tv program, (The Great British Baking Show), being so popular abroad, I do often read on Facebook groups I amin, people asking questions about ingredients and measurements but sometimes, there are incorrect answers given out.
Save Some Money & Make Your Own
Also, some of these ingredients are either more expensive or difficult to find in another country, so I did some research to find out how to make them by altering ingredients that are widely available. (Thank you so much Beth Hurst for helping me out with this – my friend who lives in the states. )
Cup, Gram & Ounce Conversions
For help with recipes in grams, ounces or cup measurements, go to my handy Conversion Table Of Most Common Baking Ingredients.
The equivalent is known as ‘Extra Fine or Super fine sugar’ in the US. Below is a photo of one brand that is available in the states. The bottle however is for tea or coffee, so isn’t in a very big bottle, (only 340g/12 oz). There are others listed in the table below too, but may not always be easily available as regular granulated sugar.
Size of Caster Sugar Granules
After I showed my friend a video of the differences between our granulated, caster and icing sugar (powdered sugar), it turns out that US regular (granulated) sugar is finer than our UK granulated.
Make Your Own Caster/Extra Fine Sugar
So US Granulated is easily ground or processed lightly to resemble our Caster sugar. Just be careful, as grinding in a processor too much may produce too fine a sugar, (similar to powder and be icing/powdered sugar) and possibly ruin your machine, so I would advise caution with it. Some people have also been known to use coffee bean grinders. A good tip with making your own is to crush in small batches and weigh or measure it as you go along until you get the quantity you need. Alternatively, make up a jar of your own caster sugar and use when needed. Be sure to store in an airtight container.
Can I Just Use Granulated Sugar?
Now something I hear getting asked a lot too is ‘can I not just use regular (granulated) sugar in place of caster sugar?’
CAKES – Well for some things, like cakes you can, but the texture is going to be slightly different because of the differences in granule sizes. You should also bear in mind that the original recipe has been developed using a specific ingredient.
MERINGUES – For things like meringues though, too big a granule is not something I would advise as you are trying to change the structure of the egg whites and produce a stability that wouldn’t hold if, for example you used powdered, (icing) sugar.
SUGAR SYRUPS/DRIZZLES – Also for things like making a sugar syrup, or drizzle, granulated can be used in place of caster, since you are melting down the sugar anyway in the process.
You should also be aware that during the ‘creaming’ of the sugar and butter stage of cake making, you will need to beat a bit longer if using granulated, because of the bigger granule size.
Golden Caster Sugar
Another note about caster sugar, is that some recipes call for golden caster sugar. This isn’t as widely available and more expensive in general. The only difference between this is the colour and a slightly more caramel taste to the sugar. It will not affect the bake in any other way than maybe a very slight colour & taste difference.
Make Your Own Golden Caster Sugar –You can also make an alternative to it, by combining light brown sugar and caster sugar (of a ratio of about 1:3). *Literally as I am typing this, I was answering a question on caster sugar on Facebook and I was informed that some Walmart’s stock larger super fine/extra fine sugar, however it may be more expensive.
Icing Sugar is simply powdered sugar. Confectioners’ Sugar can also be used as a substitute (the only difference being a small amount of corn starch is in this). It’s used in the same way and should be pushed through a sieve first before using in recipes or on top as a decoration. See comparison photo above.
For a more professional finish to desserts, push the sugar through a very small fine sieve, or use a fine tea-strainer (see photo).
This is just regular, everyday tea sugar. Note that US granulated granule size is slightly finer than our UK equivalent. See photo above.
In the US/Canada the equivalent is Almond Meal and Almond flour is sometimes available but is a lot finer and hence it’s name.
Why Use Ground Almonds?
Ground almonds provide moisture from it’s oils, but most importantly provide a solid structure and is why it’s better to use this than regular flour or almond flour.
Make Your Own Ground Almonds
If you can’t get ground almonds or almond meal, you can make you own by using whole almonds, and with the skin on is fine (as it helps retain the good oils). You simply place them in a zip-lock plastic food bag and ‘bash’ them with a rolling pin or something similar until a lot finer and like large breadcrumbs. From this point you can then place in a food processor (in small quantities at a time) and grind a little finer, but not too much to a powder consistency.
It should be like fine breadcrumbs, and crumbly & course. You can find videos on YouTube showing you how to do this. See the photo of how our ground almonds looks like compared to regular flour.
Corn Flour from the UK is also known as corn starch. Used as a thickener but also used a lot in the UK in baking recipes, in things such as shortbread and is very important in this. It’s what gives the classic crumbly melt in the mouth texture of real Scottish Shortbread. I also use a little in my soft sugar cookies. It can also be used to reduce the protein content of a strong/bread flour by mixing a little in if needed.
Often listed in recipes as fine or course semolina, Fine Semolina is a bit more coarse than semolina flour, but still very fine. See photo opposite comparing semolina to regular four. Still fine, but has a course texture if you run it through your fingers and is pale beige/yellow colour.
Uses Of Semolina
Semolina is used in cakes and also on top of breads or rolls. Both give a slightly different texture feel to the sponge, and obviously the coarse one more so.
Where To Buy Semolina
Note that semolina can be found in bigger supermarkets, and in foreign food stores/aisles and also online. It can be used in a lot of baked goods and I have a Turkish cake Revani, also known as Sambali, uses it. Check out my Summer Berry Griestorte Cake that uses it (a berry, and cream Genoise sponge layer cake).
Compared To Regular Flour
See my photo of the semolina compared to regular wheat flour. Swipe, or scroll left/right through the pics or arrows below, to see more comparison pics in the slideshow.
This is roughly the equivalent to US self-rising flour, with flour and baking powder.
Make Your Own Self-raising Flour
It can be more expensive and hard to come by in the states and Canada, but it’s easily made from All purpose flour(Plain flour in the UK) by adding baking powder and I add a little salt. The ratio for UK self-raising is, for every 125g (1 cup) of self-raising flour needed, you add 2tsp baking powder to 1 cup of all purpose or plain flour. However, US Self-rising, is 1.5 tsp of baking powder and ¼ tsp of salt. I personally find the 2 tsp of baking powder too much if there are several cups of flour involved, and especially so if there is baking powder in the recipe you are using also.
For Cakes & Scones
I go between 1.25 – 1.5 tsp baking powder per 125g/1 cup of flour and a scant ¼ tsp salt. I prefer this combination, as I don’t like the metallic taste of too much baking powder. For British scones, I use the 1.25 tsp ratio as there is additional baking powder in the recipe. For cakes, I typically use 1.5 tsp.
Too Much Baking Powder
Note that too much baking powder, can give a good rise, but if there is not enough support for the bake (ie. enough flour), it will deflate and be very dense.
* Note also, that in my recipes, I always give the corresponding ratio of baking powder to use that has worked for me.
MY PREFERRED FORMULA FOR MAKING SELF-RAISING FLOUR FOR CAKES
*Note there is no salt added to self-raising flour, but I add as I find it helps bring out the main flavour.
|SELF-RAISING||US CUP SIZE||BAKING POWDER||SALT*|
|113g||1 scant Cup||1 & scant 1/2 tsp||Scant 1/4 tsp|
|125g||1 Cup||1 & 1/2 tsp||1/4 tsp|
|225g||1 3/4 Cup||2 3/4 tsp||Scant 1/2 tsp|
|250g||2 Cups||3 tsp||1/2 tsp|
|450g||3 1/2 Cups||5 1/2 tsp||Scant 1 tsp|
Buttermilk isn’t always easy to find or have on-hand, but it can be made in several ways. This is the easiest I find.
Make Your Own Buttermilk
For every 1 cup of buttermilk required, add 1 tbsp lemon or vinegar to 1 cup (240 ml) milk and preferably not skimmed/no fat milk. Mix and leave to settle for 10 minutes. This doesn’t give you actual butter milk, but it provides the acid that is required for the baking process in the particular recipe you are using. **Note the milk will look curdled, but that is exactly what we want and is just the fat separating from the liquid.
DIFFERENT INGREDIENT & EQUIPMENT NAMES
Below is a table of the corresponding or alternative ingredients commonly used in baking. Note there may be some regional variations. On mobile phone, swipe left/right to see all the table.
|NAME IN THE UK||KNOWN IN THE US & CANADA||NOTES|
|1/2 Double Cream 1/2 Milk||“Half & Half”||Not low/zero fat milk|
|Bicarbonate Of Soda |
or Sodium Bicarbonate
|Black Treacle||Best alternative is Black Strap Molasses||See below.|
|Bread/ Strong Bread Flour||Bread Flour||Higher protein %|
|Caster Sugar||Extra/Super Fine Sugar, Baker’s Sugar, |
Fruit Sugar, Berry Sugar
|‘Domino’ brand, or make own|
|Cling Film||Plastic Wrap, Saran Wrap|
|Custard||Like a pudding, thinner than creme pat|
|Double Cream||Heavy or Whipping Cream||Slightly different fat % but |
still whip the same
|Semolina||Fine or Coarse Semolina||Not semolina flour but gritty|
|Gas Mark 1 to 9||275of to 475 of||140-250 oc temperature conversions|
|Golden Syrup||No 100% equivalent||Dark Corn syrup or honey for |
consistency but not flavour
|Granulated (tea) sugar||Regular white sugar||UK slightly larger grain|
|Grease-proof or Baking Paper||Parchment Paper|
|Grilling/Grill||Broiling or broil|
|Ground Almonds||Near to Almond Meal||Or make your own, see above|
|Icing||Frosting or glaze||Also Fondant (sugar paste)|
|Icing Sugar||Powdered Sugar or Confectioners’||No corn starch in Icing Sugar|
|Jam||Jelly||in some cases|
|Jelly||Jell-O||Can be squares, or powder|
|Kitchen Paper,Towel or Roll||Paper Towel|
|Kitchen worktop||Kitchen counter|
|Pastie/ Pasty, pastry||Hand pie, Turnover|
|Pickles/ preserves in jars||“Canning” in glass jars|
|Plain Flour||All Purpose (A.P.) Flour||Very close protein percentage|
|Self-raising Flour||Plain/A.P. flour plus baking powder||Self-rising similar but slightly |
less baking powder
|Single Cream||Light Cream||18% & 20% fat respectively|
|Slow Cooker||Crock Pot|
|Sodium Bicarbonate or Bicarb||Baking Soda||Also Bicarbonate of Soda|
|Stove, Hob||Hot, Burner or Range|
|Strong Flour||Bread Flour||Higher protein %|
|Tin Foil, Aluminium Foil||Aluminium/Aluminum Foil|
|Tin of …..||Can of …||e.x. fruit|
|Wholemeal Flour||Wholewheat Flour|
Golden Syrup from the UK is NOT the same as corn syrup. Different processes to make them, but in baking terms, the consistency is not equal with the Golden Syrup being thicker. But more importantly, the Golden Syrup has a unique taste that does not have a 100% comparison. The closest is to a cross between a caramel, butterscotch and syrup taste. It is great in recipes and also can be drizzled straight on top of a cake or even ice-cream. Using corn syrup will not give the same depth of flavour as using the Golden syrup.
Golden Syrup & Corn Syrup Experiment
A friend from the Bake Off group I help admin, did a little experiment with my Gingerbread Cake, that requires Golden Syrup and some Black Treacle. She made using the original ingredients and also one with the American substitutes of Corn Syrup & Black Strap Molasses. And she too confirmed as I suspected, that the original recipe and it’s intended ingredients produced a much better tasting cake and with a slightly lighter texture too. Thanks Jennifer! (Here’s a link to that recipe, where I also list where in the states you can buy Golden Syrup).
As mentioned in the last paragraph, US Black Strap Molasses is the nearest equivalent to Black treacle and NOT Dark Corn Syrup. Here’s where to buy Black treacle in the States & Canada.
For lots more conversion tables and useful baking information see my baking information page.
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