Test Kitchen tip: Combining dry ingredients
You'll notice that a lot of recipes call for you to "sift together the dry ingredients." It's a common phrase, especially when it comes to baking, where dry ingredients are frequently combined before forming a dough.
But keep in mind that although sifting can help to aerate dry ingredients, it doesn't necessarily do much to actually combine them. If you've ever sifted together flour and cocoa powder for, say, a brownie mix, you've probably noticed that the flour and cocoa are still somewhat separate in the bowl, even after sharing a "sifting experience."
To make sure your dry ingredients are truly combined, whisk them together. Whisking is the only way to make sure that your flour, leavener and spices are fully incorporated before proceeding with a recipe.
That is not to say sifting is bad by any means. Sifting is absolutely necessary for weeding out lumps and impurities, like those hard little nuggets of brown sugar that are so common, and is a must if you actually grind your own flour before baking. And as mentioned, sifting will help to aerate your dry ingredients, which can make a difference when you're looking for all the lift you can get with delicate batters and doughs, such as angel and chiffon cake batters. In those cases, whisk the ingredients first, then run them through a sifter so you've covered all your bases.
If you have any kitchen tips or questions you'd like me to explore, leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Noelle Carter
Photo credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times