Kitchen Notes

and ingredients and substitutions

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.

Related pages:

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. 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 - Updated March 2011.  My recipes on my blog since my kitchen renovation are baked in a new fan forced oven.  I have been told that our gas supply is not great which explains why my recipes always take longer than most others.  Prior to March 2011, my oven was an old gas oven (and not fan-forced). I don't always preheat but try to when I am organised. I notice I often needed more time in my old 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 these recipes.

My old oven cooked unevenly. I used to use a large baking tray but then bought two smaller trays which I found much easier for rotating cookies/biscuits or mini muffin trays for more even baking.

My equipment 

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.  See my cake tin sizes.

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 (see David Lebowitz'a thoughts on a handful).  More and more I use dessertspoons for measurements as my mum did when I helped her as a child.  You can view my photo of a dessertspoon next to a tablespoon if you are unsure what I mean by this.

Cookbooks: I wrote a list of my cookbooks in January 2008 and keep it updated as much as possible.  In this list you will find the details of many of the books that I use.  You can also read what I have written and photographed about my reflections on cookbooks, some of my favourite cookbooks and historic cookbooks if you are interested in such matters.

(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 pie spice
wholemeal flour
whole wheat flour
dry biscuit cream cracker water cracker
bicarbonate soda
baking soda
sultanasraisins golden raisins
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 (or con) 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, kitchen wrap
bok choy
Chinese cabbage
broad bean
fava bean
Jap pumpkin
similar to 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.  (NB since about 2010 I have been using full fat milk which is recommended for young children, so that Sylvia gets the right amount of nutrients.  Since about 2011 we have been using soy milk which Sylvia prefers.)
  • 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/Britain 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.  (Update: since I wrote this I have discovered I can buy applesauce made with 99% apple in the sauce section of the supermarket so I buy this sometimes.)
  • 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 but less sugar
  • 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)