The following tips I have obtained from various sources, most notably from the websites provided in the “Links” page as well as from personal experience.
If you do not have buttermilk on hand, you can substitute it with milk and white vinegar. For each cup of buttermilk required, replace it with 1 cup of milk to which 1 tablespoon of white vinegar was added. Stir and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
- Cake and Pastry flour substitute:
Cake and pastry flour can be substituted with all-purpose flour. The general rule of thumb is that one cup of cake and pastry (CP) flour can be replaced with 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose (AP) flour. It is then necessary to add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to the mixture.
1 cup CP flour = 1 cup AP flour – 2 tablespoons AP flour + 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Homemade Marshmallow Fluff:
I obtained this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker. It is very easy (but quite messy!) to do, so don’t be scared to try it!
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
Pinch of salt
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. In a small saucepot, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water and salt over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer.
2. While the mixture is reaching 240°F, place the egg whites and cream of tartar to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes.
3. Once the sugar mixture has reached 240°F and the egg whites beaten to soft peaks, turn the mixer to low speed and slowly drizzle the syrup mixture down the side of the mixer bowl. Once all the syrup has been incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until stiff and glossy peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 7-9 minutes. Add the vanilla extract during the last minute of beating.
- Bittersweet chocolate substitute:
If a recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate and you either do not have any or cannot find it in the store, you can replace 1 oz. bittersweet chocolate with 1 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (squares or chips) with 1/4 teaspoon cocoa powder.
- Sewi-sweet chocolate substitute:
In instances where semi-sweet chocolate is required and you have none, simply substitute each ounce of semi-sweet chocolate with 1 ounce of unsweetened chocolate plus 1 tablespoon of sugar (e.g. if the recipe calls for 4 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate, use instead 4 oz. of unsweetened chocolate and 4 tablespoons of sugar).
- Toasting Hazelnuts:
To toast hazelnuts, spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake them in the oven preheated to 325°F for 7 to 10 minutes. Shake the nuts once or twice during this period to ensure an even toast. When they are golden brown and cool enough to handle, take a handful at a time between a towel and rub vigorously. This will allow for an easy removal of the skin (it is normal for some skin to remain on the hazelnuts).