Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: How Many Cupcakes in a Baker’s Dozen?


Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?

The holiday season ushers in a flurry of activity—decorating, parties, shopping—but it wouldn’t be complete without the scent of something baking in the oven. So, today I thought we could tackle some baking words on Editing for Grammarphobes. 

For example, do you know the difference between a macaron and a macaroon?

Whether you are a food writer or not, you never know when you’ll need these words in a story, an article, or even an email.

All-purpose flour 

The name for general white, wheat flour that can be used for most baking.

Baker’s dozen

A baker’s dozen contains 13 items, not 12. 

According to Mental Floss, this custom dates back to the 13th century, when British bakers were “notorious for shorting customers with skimpy loaves. King Henry III was so irked by the problem that he implemented a new law to standardize the weight of a loaf—selling puny loaves could result in beatings or jail time. Since bakers wanted to stay on the right side of the law, one common trick was to give 13 loaves to any customer buying a dozen. Even if the loaves were light, the extra would cover the shortfall. It was an easy fix for bakers, and since low-carb diets were still seven centuries away, customers rejoiced.”


Baklava is a Middle Eastern pastry made of layered phyllo dough, honey, and chopped nuts.

Black Forest cake

A German layered chocolate cade with cherries and whipped cream.

Blind bake

I think I first heard this phrase while watching “The Great British Baking Show.” It means to bake the crust of a pie or tart before filling it.

Boston Cream pie

Not a pie at all, a Boston Cream pie is two layers of spongecake with custard filling that is glazed with chocolate.

Bundt™ pan

The phrase, Bundt™ pan, is the trademarked name of a tube pan. If you use Bundt™, you must use the trademark sign. Otherwise, refer to it as a tube pan.


The proper spelling is doughnut, not donut, according to the Associated Press Stylebook 2016. Merriam-Webster.com has both doughnut and donut listed as the same thing, so unless you’re using AP Style, you are free to choose which one you prefer.


Gingerbread is all one word.


A leavener is an ingredient, like baking powder, that causes baked goods to rise.


A macaroon is a soft, chewy cookie that is made from coconut, egg whites, and sugar. Don’t confuse it with a macaron, which is the brightly colored French sandwich cookie.

Petit Four, Petits Fours

Notice how both of the words for these small, bite-sized cakes takes an s when they become plural.

Springform pan

A springform pan is a baking pan that has removable sides. It’s commonly used for cheesecakes.


There are several varieties of sugar, including brown, granulated (white), superfine, Turbinado (raw sugar), and powdered, which used to be called confectioner’s sugar, but powdered is the name to use, according to AP.

Join me next week when we celebrate Hanukkah and explore Jewish words on Editing for Grammarphobes.  

EFG Digest

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The Associated Press Stylebook 2016


A professional writer/editor for almost 30 years, Karen Wojcik Berner's wide and varied experience includes such topics as grammar, blog content, book reviews, corporate communications, the arts, paint and coatings, real estate, the fire service, writing and literature, research, and publishing. An award-winning journalist, her work has appeared in several magazines, newspapers, and blogs, including the Chicago Tribune, Writer Unboxed, Women's Fiction Writers, Naperville Magazine, and Fresh Fiction. She also is the author of three contemporary women's fiction novels and is a member of the Chicago Writers’ Association. For more information on Karen, please visit www.karenberner.com.


Anonymous said…
I'm hungry now. And I just had dinner. :)
Mel Parish said…
In the UK powdered sugar is known as icing sugar. When you decorate a cake, you ice it rather than frost it. For some reason I still find myself using the UK terms unless I'm referring to the tubs of ready-made frosting. Good job I don't write mysteries set in bakeries!
Those cakes look delicious.
It's a great photo, isn't it? They make me hungry, too, angel011.

That's interesting, Mel. I didn't know about "icing sugar."

R. Doug Wicker said…
What a delightfully delicious article.
Thanks, R. Doug. It makes me want to get to my holiday baking. Not that anything I make looks as good those in the picture, of course. :)

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