Cornstarch is a polysaccharide, corn based starch. It must be first dissolved in cold water, then cooked for 3 minutes to thicken.
Arrowroot is starch made from arrowroot plant. It also has to be dissolved in cold water and then cooked.
Tapioca is starch produced from root of cassava plant. It is available as a powder and in form of pearls. Pearl tapioca has to be soaked in cold liquid for several hours before cooking.
Potato Starch is starch extracted from potatoes. It is usually used to thicken soups or gravies. When used in spongecakes, it keeps the cake moist and makes it soft.
Gelatin is translucent, colorless, brittle, flavorless solid substance made from collagen. Collagen is derived from the bones and skin of animals, in most cases pork.
It is available in sheets (leaf gelatin) and in form of powder. Before use it should be bloomed- soaked in cold water until re-hydrated. Bloom also signifies the strength of the gelatin, the higher the number-the strength is better.
Grades of gelatin:
Bronze grade (bloom 130)
Silver grade (bloom 160)
Gold grade (bloom 200)
Platinum grade (bloom 230)
You can substitute the same weights of sheet and powdered gelatin, as long as they have same strength. Leaf gelatin should be soaked in generous amount of cold water, and it should be well drained after blooming. If you are using powdered gelatin, the amount of cold water should be 4 times the weight of gelatin, and you don't drain it. After blooming, gelatin should be dissolved in hot liquid, but never boiled, because if boiled, gelatin looses its ability to set.
Certain tropical fruits, such as pineapple and kiwi, have enzyme bromelin that can prevent gelatin to set. Boiling those fruits destroys the enzyme, and allows gelatin to set.
Agar agar or agar is gelatinous substance derived from red algae. It has been used for many years as an ingredient in desserts throughout Asia. Now it is used as vegetarian gelatin substitute, laxative (in larger amounts), thickener for soups, for fruit preserves and in ice cream.
To make a jelly, agar agar is boiled in liquid until dissolved. It sets on a higher temperature and more firmly than gelatin.
Pectin is natural thickener extracted from fruits and used to thicken fruit preserves, jams and jellies.
Leavening is production or incorporation of gasses in a dough or batter because gasses expand greatly when heated. Baked products increase in volume, get shape and texture. There are three main gasses that we use in...