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Conventions & Conversions

Because Australians use not only metric measurements, but also very different cooking terms, I suspect American readers may be somewhat confused by some words and measurements used in these recipes. So here’s a quick guide to Australian cooking terms.

One important cultural difference to note is that Americans generally seem to have a sweeter palate than Australians – or at least this Australian. I routinely find that if I’m using an American recipe I find on the internet, I’ll reduce the sugar considerably – usually at least by a quarter, often by up to half.

I’ll expand this as time goes on, and also add some measurement guides.

Cooking Terms

Pantry basics

Plain Flour is what Americans know as All-Purpose Flour.

I believe Americans use the term Self-Rising Flour, instead of Self-Raising Flour but if you couldn’t have worked that out, I’d be a bit worried! Self-Raising Flour is flour with a raising agent included, so you don’t have to add baking powder.

American recipes also sometimes call for Cake Flour. There is no real equivalent to this in Australia, but I have been told that substituting a couple of tablespoons of Corn Flour to a cup of Plain Flour is an acceptable substitute. Certainly my mother’s superb sponge cake recipe uses Plain Flour, Corn Flour and a little custard powder, with excellent results.

Corn Flour is known as Corn Starch in America.

Rice Flour is Ground Rice.

Wholemeal Flour is Whole Wheat Flour.

Bicarbonate of Soda, usually just called Bicarb, is Baking Soda.

Caster Sugar is known in America as Superfine Sugar.

Icing Sugar is Powdered, or Confectioner’s Sugar.

Golden Syrup is Cane Syrup, or use Corn Syrup.

Molasses is obviously Molasses, although Australians sometimes use the British term Treacle.

100’s & 1000’s are, I believe, unique to Australia, but Sprinkles are essentially the same thing – although Sprinkles are probably closer to Dollar Five’s. Both are made by the Dollar Sweets company.

Mixed Spice is called Apple Pie Spice in America.

Stock is what Americans know as Bouillon, so Stock Cubes are obviously Bouillon Cubes.

Other foods

Most Australians use the word Eggplant, although some of the snootier ones prefer Aubergine.

Similarly, only snobs called ZucchinisCourgettes.

Rasher of bacon is a Slice.

Broad Beans are Fava Beans.

Coriander, when it’s fresh, is Cilantro. Do Americans call the seeds, or powdered spice Coriander?

We use Digestive Biscuits or Marie Biscuits instead of Graham Crackers.

It is probably important to note here that Australians generally use the term Biscuits instead of Cookies, although some specific biscuits (generally bigger, or chewier types) may be called Cookies.

Sultanas are Golden Raisins.

Polenta is Corn Meal, and is sometimes known under the same name in Australia.

Spring Onions are Scallions or Green Onions.

Utensils and stuff

Baking Tray is a Cookie Sheet.

Cake Tin is a Baking Pan.

Ring Tin is a Tube Pan.

Swiss Roll Tin is a Jelly Roll Pan.

I don’t know if Americans use Spring Tins or not – but they’re a pan that has a spring-locking mechanism to open them out, and a bottom that comes loose when you do. Use them for making cheesecakes.

An Egg Lift is a type of flat Spatula. Bet you can’t guess what it’s used for.

Greaseproof Paper is Wax Paper.

Tea Towel is a Dish Towel or Dish Rag.

Frying Pan is a Skillet.

Grilling is Broiling.

Piping Bag is a Pastry Case.

I’ll get around to metric measurements another time …

2 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    September 13, 2013 7:54 pm

    Yes, in the US, the seeds and powdered forms are simply referred to as coriander. “Cilantro” is the Spanish term for coriander. Since the herb is used frequently in Mexican cooking which is very popular here, the borrowed word is used in American English to designate the fresh leaf only.

    • November 1, 2013 10:43 pm

      Thanks for that, especially for enlightening me as to the distinction and how it comes about. That’s quite interesting.

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