Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and sprinkle the top with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll while pressing down on the dough. Begin by rolling front to back, then switch directions and roll side to side. If the rolling pin sticks, sprinkle a little more flour. Continue rolling until the dough is the desired size and thickness.
Greasing a pan
Greasing helps keep baked goods from sticking to the pan. It's easy to do this with your hands, but if you don't want to get stuff all over them, then try using a paper towel to spread the shortening or oil. Just make sure you don't miss any spots!
Measuring thickness of dough
Until you have a lot of practice with this, it's a good idea to keep a ruler handy. This is an easy way to see if you've rolled your dough out to the correct thickness.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Use one hand to firmly press into one side of the dough. Pick up the other side of the dough with your other hand and fold it over, again pressing into the dough. Pick up the opposite edge of the dough and do the same. Repeat this process for as long as instructed in the individual recipe directions. The dough should become smooth and elastic. If the dough gets sticky, sprinkle with a bit more flour.
This is a way of making sure the yeast is working! Let it sit for about 5 minutes in a warm liquid. If it's working, you will see lots of foam and little bubbles rise to the surface.
Melting chocolate in a double boiler
Fill the bottom of a double boiler with about 2 inches of water. Insert the top of the double boiler and place the chocolate in it. Set on the stovetop and simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is melted. If you don't have a double boiler, you can use a medium saucepan for the bottom part and a metal bowl large enough to sit on top of the saucepan without touching the water at the bottom.
Testing the heat of a pan
You can test the heat of a pan by dropping a teaspoon of water in it. The pan is hot enough to cook in when the water "dances" into drops across the bottom.
Testing with toothpicks
This is an easy trick! Insert a toothpick into the center of a cake
Some recipes suggest using an instant-read thermometer when things need to be at a certain temperature. Though this is not always necessary, a thermometer does help you make sure that things are cooked enough. Thermometers also help when cooking with yeast, because you usually need to add warm water or other liquid to it in order for it to start working. A thermometer will tell you if the liquid is too hot or too cold. (If you use a thermometer, make sure that it is inserted far enough into whatever you're testing so that you get a true temperature.)