Ask the Test Kitchen

"Sweet" Milk and Cream

I have a Mennonite cookbook that has a few recipes that call for sweet milk and sweet cream. What exactly are they referring to? Also, can you tell me what Beau Monde seasoning is? Thank you.…

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A Smoother Frosting

When I frost a layer cake, there's always a ridge in the frosting where the layers meet. This happens no matter what the consistency of the frosting. I've tried spreading it between layers to…

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Adjust Caps

Almost every recipe for jam seems to use the term "adjust caps" before processing in a boiling-water bath. What does "adjust caps" mean? —M.G., Lompoc, California

Recipes that use the…

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Advantages of Brining

I've seen a few recipes lately that call for brining poultry or meats. What exactly is brining and what are its advantages? —M.K., Brookfield, Wisconsin

Brining means to soak meat in a…

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Alum Not Needed

In my younger days, pickled cucumbers called for alum to keep the vegetables crisp in home canning recipes. But nowadays, recipes for pickled vegetables do not call for alum. Why is it no longer…

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Baked Spareribs

I have a recipe that calls for baking spareribs for 6 hours in a 200° oven and finishing on a grill. Does this sound safe at such a low temperature? —E.O., Parma, Ohio

According to…

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Banana Cake Cure

Every time I bake a banana cake from scratch, it falls in the center when it cools. The recipe I have calls for two 8-inch round baking pans, but I prefer to bake the cake in a 13-inch x 9-inch x…

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Banana Nut Bread

I've tried several recipes for banana nut bread, but in each attempt the center of the loaf seems wet and underdone. I've even doubled the suggested baking time, but the center remains mushy. I…

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Beef Stroganoff

I like to make Beef Stroganoff, but I'm never sure what cut of meat to use. Lately I've tried beef top round that the butcher cuts into cubes for me. My sauce is fine, but I think the meat should…

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Biscuit-Topped Casserole

How can I keep biscuits that are placed on top of a casserole from getting doughy? —L.S., Windsor, Vermont

It's true—biscuits that are baked on top of casseroles, stews and…

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