Friday, 28 August 2009

Kitchen notes, ingredients, substitutions

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As an Australian on the big world wide web, I sometimes feel that the terms I use are difficult to understand for those outside our country. We use a strange hybrid of English and American terms and ingredients. So I have cobbled together a list of terms and translations for both Aussies venturing abroad and for those trying to understand Australian cooking and my cooking.

This information is intended to be useful rather than definitive. It is a work in progress so I will continue to tidy it and add links where helpful. (Apologies for the dogdy spacing right now - I am trying to fix it but my html skills are limited so this table is a challenge.) Any corrections, questions or comments can be sent to me at gggiraffe07[AT]yahoo[DOT]com[DOT]au.


My methods: I am a slapdash cook. My blog has shown me how much I tweak recipes as I go and I try to reflect that in the recipe I write out on this blog. I believe that in baking once you know the rules you can break them. I have been baking long enough to have a feel for how things work - though I still occasionally have a cake which comes out of the oven uncooked on the inside. But I just put it back in the oven. My mum tells me I must not change anything in a sponge cake recipe. I often adjust ingredients depending on what I have in the house. I share what I do rather than what I should do, but with some reflections.

My oven - My oven is an old gas oven (and not fan-forced). I don't always preheat but try to when I am organised. I notice I often need more time in the oven than recipes specify. Having used new electric and gas ovens, I am aware that others may need to take this into account when reading my recipes.

My oven cooks unevenly. I used to use a large baking tray but have recently bought two smaller trays which I find much easier for rotating cookies/biscuits or mini muffin trays for more even baking.

Lining cake tins - In my recipes I often say grease and line the tin. This is what I usually do - I spray the sides of a cake tin with oil (light olive oil) and use baking paper to line the bottom. If it is a square or oblong cake tin, I just let it go up two opposite sides. If it is a round cake tin, I cut out a circle of paper for the bottom. If I am using silicone cake tins I don't grease, oil or line the tin.

Measurements. The measurements I use are Australian cup (1 cup = 250ml) and spoon measurements (my tablespoon is 15ml which may not be an Australian measure), and/or metric. For conversions, go to Real Food for Real People or Gourmet Sleuth.Sometimes I say a handful or a sprinkle of an ingredient because it is not important to have an exact amount and you can adjust it according to whim and desire.

(asterisk [*] indicates that it is not an exact translation)

Australian (what I say) British American
buttercake sponge cake pound cake
sponge cake
angel food cake*
sponge pudding pudding cobbler
icy pole iced lollypopsicle
lolly pop lolly
lolly sweetiescandy
mixed spice
pumpkin spice
wholemeal flour
whole wheat flour
dry biscuit cream cracker water cracker
bicarbonate soda
baking soda
sultanasraisins raisins
muscat raisins
zucchini courgette
eggplant aubergine
capsicum (sweet) pepper bell pepper
icing sugar
confectioners sugar, powdered sugar
raw sugardemerara sugar* turbinado sugar*
brown sugar muscovado sugar*
fresh coriander
chilli non carne
chile pepper
butternut pumpkin butternut squashbutternut squash
swiss roll
jelly roll
lamington tin
jelly roll tin
rolled oats porridge oats large oat flakes
instant (quick cooking) oats
corn flour
corn starch
Marie biscuits rich tea biscuits* plain butter cookies*
jubes wine gums* jujubes
boiled lollies
plain flour
cake flour, pastry flour, all purpose flour
spring onions
green onions, scallions
gladwrap, clingfilm
saran wrap
bok choy
napa cabbage, Chinese cabbage
broad bean
fava bean
Jap pumpkin
Kabocha squash
tasty cheese cheddar cheese cheddar cheese
dessicated coconut
shredded coconut


  • Dried apricots - I mean Australian dried apricots (like Californian dried apricots) not the sweeter Turkish apricots
  • Dutch cocoa - this is a dark better quality cocoa - I am a little confused about how it compares to the American dutch processed cocoa which seems a lower quality cocoa.
  • Milk - I use low fat milk. I don't really like the taste of milk so I let E choose the milk we have. In an ideal world I would have vegan milk occasionally but we don't use it enough to justify buying two milks.
  • Onions - I always use brown onions, unless otherwise specified. I don't usually say peeled but I always peel them.
  • Pumpkin - we have pumpkin all year round and in all shapes and sizes - but I have learnt that in America/Briatin some of what we call pumpkins are winter squash - for example our butternut pumpkin is American and Brits Butternut Squash. We use Queensland Blue, Jap and Kent pumpkin a lot - they are large pumpkins with blue or dark green skin - they seem quite like kabocha squash - see my pumpkin post for more info.
  • Mixed herbs - I buy a commercially dried mixture of Thyme, Rosemary, Marjoram, Basil, Oregano, Sage.

Substitutions for Americans - these are ingredients easy to find in Australia but not so easy in America
  • Self Raising Flour (sometimes SR flour) - equals 1 cup plain flour with 2 tsp baking powder
  • Golden Syrup - dark corn syrup (I think this is the best substitution but let me know if others are better)
  • Marie Biscuits - use rich tea biscuits in the UK and a plain crisp butter cookie in America (any ideas welcome)
  • Promite (or vegemite) - there is no substitution that tastes exactly the same but you could try marmite in the UK or a yeast extract or (if in cooking) soy sauce
  • Wattleseed - I tend to use this instead of coffee so you can usually use coffee where I use dried wattleseed
Substitutions for Australians - these are ingredients that seem common in America or Britain but are hard to find here and what I usually substitute when I come across them in recipes:
  • Apple sauce - I usually just stew some peeled and cored (granny smith) apples and mash them with a fork
  • Black beans - kidney beans
  • Butterscotch chips - chopped jersey caramels
  • Clotted cream - I just use a thick cream with about 45% fat - King Island cream is the gold standard here
  • Corn syrup - golden syrup
  • Creme Fraiche - sour cream or yoghurt
  • Dried cherries - dried cranberries
  • Fresh cranberries - other berries
  • Graham crackers - marie biscuits or wheatmeal biscuits or digestives (not sure there is any exact substitution but these can work - any suggestions welcome)
  • Half and half - I think I would use what we call thickened cream (but is actually pouring cream which the Brits call single cream)
  • Kale - cabbage or silverbeet
  • Kosher salt - sea salt
  • Liquid Smoke - smoked paprika
  • Tinned pumpkin puree - I usually microwave some peeled, cored and chopped pumpkin in a plastic tub and mash it with a fork (300-350g unpeeled makes about a cup of mashed pumpkin)


  1. Really interesting, as a Brit, thank you. I now know what is meant by half and half! Out of curiosity what apples do you use when making apple sauce?

  2. Wow, you're amazing! I'm far too lazy to make applesauce I'm just going to throw into a muffin recipe or something. I buy it from the shop *blush*.

    I love your list though! I'd love to put a link up for it on my blog if you're okay with that? :)

  3. Oh wow, amazing!! As coming from a Canadian family and growing up in NZ, but with my mother's Canadian cookbooks, I've always struggled with not having butterscotch chips available here. I definitely have to try chopping up some jersey caramels as a substitute though!

  4. Brilliant! thanks from America for the ingredient translations, I'll definitely refer back to it. Since I've been reading you there have been a few times I was unsure about a few ingredients and after studying your list I think I've got it now :)

  5. Thanks Lisa - it took me a while to understand what half and half was - in fact I don't think I could have written most of this before I started blogging. have updated the applesauce info to say I use granny smith apples - these are the apples I usually have about.

    Thanks Vegetation - I use applesauce so rarely and never see it in the shops so I just stew apples when I need it - maybe if I bought it I would use it more because would need to use it up

    Thanks Coffeetwist - I would love to be able to buy butterscotch chips - tried the jersey caramels for the first time recently and think it worked - still need to experiment more

    thanks Sarah - glad this is helping bridge the gap! Let me know if you have more uncertainties.

  6. This a fantastically useful list Johanna. I had no idea that those napa cabbages I keep hearing about are my pak choi.

    Pumpkins and squashes I've found difficult to interpret in recipes, and also all of those buttermilk / creme fraiche / yogurt dairy variations.

    I can't believe you Australians don't have golden syrup. Poor things!

  7. Interesting list! I love that you say "tasty cheese" when you mean Cheddar cheese. Interesting that you say bok choy when you mean napa cabbage because here those are 2 separate things.

  8. I love your chart! It's so interesting to see the different terms for the same ingredients. And thanks for the substitutions, too. :)

  9. Thanks Sophie - I think I need to check about the napa cabbages - I got it from a website that claimed Australians don't use the term spring onions - which is incorrect - so the cabbage might be too - will look into it more - and am happy to tell you that we do have golden syrup as I love using it

    Thanks Ashley - as I said to Sophie - I think maybe the napa cabbage and bok choy line will have to go - but tasty cheese can stay - love it too!

    Thanks Ricki - as you will see in other comments this is a work in progress but glad it is good reading :-)


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