Some handy tips for bakers on measuring cups, muffin liners and adjusting recipes for smaller tins

Paper liners should not be greased as it would lead to a soggy mess.
Paper liners should not be greased as it would lead to a soggy mess. PHOTO: ST FILE

(WASHINGTON POST) - Columnist Dorie Greenspan answered reader questions. Here are edited excerpts from a recent online chat. Unless otherwise noted, recipes with capitalised names are found at

Q: Many times when I'm baking, a recipe calls for dividing the batter so that ingredients can be added to just a part of it. The instructions usually specify how many cups to take out, but are these liquid measuring cups or dry measures? Does it make a difference?

A: If it's a pourable batter, I usually use liquid measuring cups; if it's a dough, I grab dry measures. I usually eyeball it, unless I'm working on an elaborate cake or a recipe that has to be perfect.

Q: Not a question, but if you're willing to use a kitchen scale and dirty another bowl or plate to divide your batter evenly, you can weigh the mix and then divide.

A: Good suggestion. Weighing is always the right answer.

Q: For Christmas I received two sets of four mini four-inch tart pans. I'd love to use them for the Jammer Galette from Dorie's Cookies. I'm assuming I'll need to double the recipe to make more than two or three, but how would you adjust the baking time for the smaller pans?

A: I'm not exactly sure what the timing should be for your small galettes, but I'd start looking at them after about 25 minutes. I think they'll need more time, but give them a glance. You'll know they're done when the streusel is a beautiful golden brown and the jam is bubbling. Take one out of the oven and see if you can peek at the bottom: If it's browned, then you should be good to go.

Q: Some muffin recipes say to line the cups with papers and grease the papers. Shouldn't using paper liners mean you don't need to grease? And how on Earth could you grease those papers? They would become a soggy, greasy mess. With foil liners you could use spray, but I thought the whole point of liners was you don't need to grease.

A: I've never heard of greasing the paper liners and I've never done it. The only way to grease the papers would be to use a baking spray, but as you said, the chances of soggy papers are high.

Q: I have been making a delicious orange-flavoured olive oil cake but am not sure what would be a good accompaniment. A chocolate drizzle drowns out the lovely olive oil hint of bitterness, and fresh fruit is not very satisfactory this time of year.

A: How about some very lightly sweetened yogurt? Maybe, if you're feeling ambitious, candy some orange peel, chop it and fold it through the yogurt. I agree with you about the chocolate drizzle on this kind of cake. As much as I love chocolate-covered orange peel (orangettes), I think that getting the right balance of chocolate to orange and choosing the right chocolate to go with citrus can be tricky.

Q: I love corn bread and I love buckwheat pancakes. I see recipes for both that include lots of white wheat flour (usually all-purpose). Is the flour necessary to lighten the weight of the cornmeal and buckwheat? Does it result in tastier pancakes, or is there a way to use just cornmeal and just buckwheat?

A: The white flour does lighten the other flours. Cornmeal and buckwheat (particularly) can be dense. If you want to experiment, try using just a little more leavening in the recipe and separate the eggs. Mix the yolks into the batter, beat the egg whites until they're firm (but still glossy) and fold them into the batter.