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The layered look: Dividing batter so each cake pan holds the same amount


Q: I have trouble dividing cake batter in order to make a layer cake. Eyeballing it just doesn't work very well for me. Do you have any suggestions for any easy way to divide it?

A: The most accurate way to equally divide batter is to use a kitchen scale and weigh the portions. Make sure that the pans weigh the same if you weigh the batter in the baking pan. Or weigh the batter in batches in the same receptacle and then pour into the baking pans.

If you don't have a scale, another idea is to measure the depth of each with a long toothpick or skewer. Adjust until the pans hold an equal depth.

Q: Does feta cheese contain much fat?

A: This classic crumbly Greek cheese varies in the amount of butterfat it contains from 45 to 60 percent. This variance is determined by the type of milk it's made from. Sheep or goat milk were traditionally used, but now it is often commercially made from cow's milk.

I checked a package recently for some exact grams and found that a 1-ounce portion of feta from part-skim milk contains 6 grams of fat. If a recipe calls for cutting a chicken into pieces, how many pieces do they mean?

Cutting a chicken into pieces means dividing it into the individual parts of the chicken: breasts, wings, thighs, drumsticks and back. If another cutting treatment is required, the recipe will usually specify, such as cutting into 2-inch pieces for some Oriental dishes.

Note: In response to our tip a couple of weeks ago about being sure to start with a hot pan when sauteing, a reader writes that it is not wise to spray nonstick vegetable coating on a hot surface. To take the greatest precaution in this case, you should spray the pan before it is hot and never use the spray near a flame.

We'd like to hear from you. Send your questions to: What's Cooking, c/o Food & Home, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Or call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800 (268-7736 in Anne Arundel County, 836-5028 in Harford County, 848-0338 in Carroll County). Using a touch-tone phone, punch in 6180 after the greeting. Although personal replies are not possible, questions of general interest will be answered in this column.

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