Ask Nancy Archives

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I'll be answering ten questions each month... and if your question is chosen, I'll post a personalized response!

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Do you have a baking, decorating or celebrating question for Nancy? Now is your chance to have it answered.

Check here each month, Nancy will select ten questions submitted by viewers and posting her answers here.


Ingredients Questions

Where do I find edible glucose for the fondant?

Laura - from Spotsylvania, VA

I can't seem to find buttermilk in my area. Can I substitute for another milk?

Maria - from Quebradills, Puerto Rico

I have a cake I made Thursday morning with crusted cream cheese covered with fondant. How long can I leave it out?

Raquel - from Bronx, NY

Can I add cake flour to a boxed cake mix?

katrina - from indianola, MS

Our local PBS station has stopped airing your show. How should i approach this? I really miss it.

linda - from sharpsville, PA

Can I use regular all-purpose flour instead of cake flour when making cakes? Does it really make that big of a difference? If so, why?

maureen - from Lisbon Falls, ME

When you make popcorn balls, can you also use other popcorns like caramel corn?

Jamar - from Oakland, CA

Will adding powdered almonds to whipped icing deflate it?

Bertha - from Robstown, TX

I tried making rice cereal treats but is was a total failure. I want to use it to make a cell phone and other decorations for a handbag cake. My rice cereal treats were so sticky that they would not come off the the wax paper. What would you suggest? I have to bake the cake in May and want to try it before the time. Thank you

Elda - from Krugersdorp, South Africa

Why do some recipes use almond extract in addition to vanilla extract? Why not use just vanilla extract? (for example, roll out cookies)

Ilene - from Toronto, Ontario

For chocolate beet cake, do you include the juice from the canned beets when pureeing, or drain the beets?

Dorothy - from Philadelphia, PA

What stores supply cake flour? And does it specifically say cake flour on the box?

leonor - from Oakland, CA

Can I substitute Splenda for sugar?

Claudia - from Downey, CA

I need to make a big cookie that looks like a pepperoni pizza for my granddaughter's birthday, I don't know what to use for cheese, sauce and pepperoni. Do you have any suggestions?

Susan - from Spartanburg, SC

Can i use the yellow cake recipe as a base for other flavors? How can I change it?

anais - from Toa baja, puerto rico

Have made same pound cake for over 40 years. Since moving 5 years ago, cakes don't want to "let go" of pan (sometimes chunks stick to pay) and the crusts are soft and sticky and very light brown. I'm using same recipe, pans, methods. Oven temp. seems to be working properly and altitude is about the same as before. Any suggestions? Cakes taste fine, just look bad.

Ro - from Denver, NC

Hi Nancy, Can candy wafers be flavored with some kind of flavoring like vanilla or almond extract?

Maryanne - from Milwaukee, WI

When a recipe calls for four large eggs can I use medium eggs or instead five medium eggs. How much is the difference?

Dildred - from Carolina, Puerto Rico

1.When a recipe calls for milk, can I use skim milk or do I have to use whole milk all the time? 2. If a recipe ask for unsalted butter, can I use bar butter and omit the salt from the recipe?

Claudia Hamilto - from Wilmington, NC

I have decided to make for my mother a birthday cake with curls and flowers and I have come across with the fact that I have to use a 50/50 gum paste paste and fondant blend. If I do this,is it with the prepared gum paste ? Whats the difference if I use 100% marshmallow fondant? All the fondant I'm using is marshmallow fondant.

Ilse - from Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Can I use all Karo Corn Syrup instead of water in my buttercream recipe?

Marcia - from Osceola, IN

Hi Nancy. Can you please tell me how to prevent curdling the butter and why this is happening?

Rosy - from Redwood City, CA

What can be used instead of vegetable shortening in the buttercream icing recipe?

Zartash - from Hyderabad, pakistan

What’s a vegan substitute in cookies for egg(s) and butter/margarine (because all the margarine brands that I have search in my country have some milk somewhere.) Thanks!

Susana - from Santo Domingo, Dom. Rep.

My stepdaughter insists lard or shortening is best for buttercream icing; I maintain butter is best with egg white for stability. Who’s correct?

Viki - from Auburn, CA

I’ve started looking through my recipes for cookies. A lot of them call for “unsalted” butter. Is it okay to use “salted” butter instead? Will it change the taste/flavor? Will I have to omit the salt in the recipe if using “salted” butter?

Audrey - from Milwaukee, WI

I would like to do Spice Gingerbread Cookies this Christmas but the recipe I have says I need dark molasses and cocoa powder. These ingredients are too expensive. Is there another way to do Spice Gingerbread Cookies that are not that expensive?

Maria - from Cidra, Puerto Rico

How can I make cake with cake flour vs. pastry flour?

Bethzaida - from Florida, FL

Can candy flavorings be used as vanilla and almond extracts in buttercream frostings?

Ilse - from Teguciglap, Honduras

What is the difference between fondant and gum paste?

Jamie - from East Palestine, OH

Hello, Nancy, I’m from Argentina, South America. I can see from the show that butter sticks in my country are bigger than in the U.S.A. Can you tell me, please, the weight of a stick of butter so I can make your recipes? Thank you!

Paula - from Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires

How many bars of butter make 2/3 cup?

Rebecca - from Tegucigalpa, Honduras

I made my own wedding cake 9 years ago and used Royal Icing to make drop flowers. That was the last time I needed Meringue Powder and have kept it in the refrigerator all this time. Is it still good after all this time?

Cat - from Huntingburg, IN

Hi! I’m from Mexico and we don’t have buttermilk. What can I substitute?

Montse - from Tehuacan, Puebla

Hi Nancy! I love the lemon cake recipe you have but would like a substitute for the four sticks of butter. Can I use oil?

Mari - from San Francisco, CA

How can I replace the meringue powder? I’m from Peru and we don’t have the product available here.

Mayra - from Lima, Peru

Can I use Gum-Tex to make Gum Glue Adhesive?

Luz - from Roselle, NJ

Hi Nancy! Can I use salted butter to prepare cakes?

Olgamar - from Barquisimeto, Venezuela

What is half and half?

Maria - from Nicosia, Cyprus

Why is it when I mix sugar, egg and milk to make a cake, it looks like cottage cheese. Please help me, I would like to learn how to make cakes, cookies, and other things.

Amarilis - from Bronx, NY

What is pastry flour and where can I buy it?

Ann - from Basking Ridge, NJ

I would like to use cherry pie filling instead of raspberry for filling in a white chocolate cake, would that work?

Carol - from Cecilia, KY

I bought self-rising flour instead of all-purpose flour. Can I use it the same as all-purpose for making cookies?

Jane - from Pinon Hills, CA

Can I use margarine for the Roll-Out Cookie Recipe?

Nathalie - from Caracas, Venezuela

Why did my cake fall in the center? I just opened a new can of baking powder, however this is not the brand I usually use. I tried the recipe twice today and it happened both times. I’ve made this cake on many occasions and have never had a problem until today. Do you think I got a bad can of baking powder?

Deb - from Moline, IL

In your Oatmeal Lace Cookie Recipe, is the butter salted or unsalted?

Linda - from Aurora, CO

Can I use whole wheat flour for baking a cake instead of white flour? If yes, how would I substitute?

Terry - from Wayne, NJ

Hi, Nancy. I am sending this mail from India. I simply love your drop flowers and would love to make them. The only problem is that I am unable to find Meringue Powder or egg white powder in India. Can I make royal icing with real egg whites then use that for the flowers? Will they be as well set as your flowers?

Medha - from Delhi, Delhi

Hi! I was wondering if I can use margarine instead of butter for the Roll Out Cookie Recipe?

Nathalie - from Caracas, Venezuela

Why is Karo syrup used in the icing you use for writing?

James - from Azusa, CA

Hi Nancy. Is there any other ingredient instead of vegetable shortening to make buttercream icing?

Alejandra - from Chandler, AZ

Hi! I want to know, if I can’t find self-rising flour, what can I use instead?

Susana - from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Can I use regular butter in cookies instead of butter flavored shortening?

Donna - from Auburn, CA

Hi Nancy. I like your recipe for dark chocolate cheesecake, but I want to know if heavy whipping cream is the same as heavy cream because in Puerto Rico I don’t know what to buy. Thanks.

Virgen - from Guayanilla, Puerto Rico

Nancy, I can’t wait to try some of the many cake decorating techniques you have shown us. I notice that when I use butter or margarine in my buttercream icing, it has an ivory or off-white color. Can you help?

Jaimie - from Round Rock, TX

What is glycerine used for in icing?

Gail - from Syracuse, NY

If a cookie recipe calls for canola oil can I use vegetable oil instead, and what is the difference between the two?

Vanessa - from San Marcos, TX

When a recipe calls for 1-1/4 cups sifted cake flour, do I sift it before or after measuring the flour.

Pamela - from Phoenix, AZ

Hi, Nancy, if clear vanilla extract is not available, can I use the regular vanilla extract or the powdered one?

Jane - from Jeddah, None

One of my children is lactose intolerant. Many cake recipes call for milk or sour cream. Can I substitute them with other ingredients, like apple juice or water?

Aviva - from Elazar, NV

When using applesauce instead of oil in baking a cake if the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of oil do I just add 1/2 cup of applesauce?

Alicia - from Harlingen, TX

Is icing sugar and confectioners’ sugar the same thing?

Rebeca - from Kitchener, Ontario

Where do I find sifted confectioners’ sugar?

Crystal - from Bronx, NY

Is there anything you can use as a substitute for shortening?

Mary - from Alexandria, VA

Is it true that using a good quality expensive all-purpose flour will improve the outcome of each baked good product?

Jesenia - from Concord, CA

What is heavy whipping cream?

Carolyn - from Elsemere, KY

When making homemade rolled fondant, where can I buy the glucose and glycerin?

Diane - from Fall River, MA

What kind of flour besides all-purpose flour can be used to bake cakes from scratch? Can whole wheat pastry flour be used?

Alicia - from Harlingen, TX

Is it okay to not add an ingredient and use another ingredient?

Janadhi - from Houston, TX

How do you melt chocolate and Candy Melts?

Abigail - from Houston, TX

I love your show! It has gotten my 11-year-old daughter interested in baking and cake decorating. Our question: Is it necessary to sift powdered sugar when making buttercream icing? What difference does sifting make in the icing?

Kate - from Tomball, TX

I want to cut a recipe in half, and it calls for 3 large eggs. How do I do this?

Tom - from Brookfield, WI

Is "non-toxic artists' chalk" the same as "non-toxic chalk? Is it edible?

Elny - from Carlton, NSW

When a recipe calls for pure vanilla extract, can I use imitation vanilla? Will it change the taste of the recipe?

Ang - from Torrance, CA

I recently took some baking classes, and the teacher said to use unbleached flour for cakes. Is this true of all cakes? What's the difference between unbleached all-purpose flour and regular all-purpose flour?

Norma - from Sparks, OK

What do you mean sticks of butter?

Mahnaz - from iran-tehran, NY

Can you please tell me how do I know when to use baking cocoa vs. unsweetened cocoa in a recipe when the recipe does not specify?

Christine - from North Bethesda, MD

How long does orange and lemon zest last after you "zest" it? And, what is the best tool to use to zest?

Connie - from New Albany, IN

Can vanilla rum replace vanilla extract?

Christine - from Wyoming, OH

Can I flavor fondant? What would I use?

Jeannie - from Carlisle, IA

I only make cakes from scratch occasionally. What is the best flour to keep on hand?

Chris - from Virginia Beach, VA

What is the difference between confectioners' sugar and powdered sugar?

Dawn - from Prophetstown, IL

Hi! I live in the UK. Is baking soda the same product as bicarbonate of soda or the same as baking powder?

Mandy - from England, UK

Can clear vanilla extract and pure vanilla extract be used interchangeably?

Debbie - from Oakland, CO

Why do some cakes use baking soda and others baking powder?

Karina - from Gainesville, TX

When doubling a recipe that calls for baking powder and baking soda, do you do exactly that or can you use less?

Lorena - from West Sacramento, CA

Can all-purpose, cake and bread flour be used interchangeably?

Maria - from Indianapolis, IN

How can I make the strawberry mousse recipe into chocolate mousse?

Linda - from Bloomsburg, PA

I want to make a cake, but have no cake flour, just all-purpose flour. Would that be alright to use?

Victoria - from San Jose, CA

The banana cake recipe you demonstrated calls for sour cream. I don't like sour cream, can I omit it? Can I substitute yogurt for the sour cream?

Lucy - from Acampo, CA

Hi, I've been watching your show for the past several months and I LOVE IT. I'm only in Grade 10, but I really enjoy decorating cakes. When making royal icing, is there any substitute for Meringue Powder, because I am not able to buy it where I live.

Melissa - from La Scie, Canada

Your buttercream icing includes milk. I keep a kosher diet that does not allow mixing meat and milk. Can the milk be omitted or replaced with a different ingredient?

Rina - from Brooklyn, NY

When a cake recipe calls for "milk," what type of milk should you use?

Pat - from Wilmington, DE

Nancy, what is glucose and glycerin, and what are they used them for?

Charlotte - from Saskatoon, Canada

Many recipes call for heavy cream and no one really explains what heavy cream is. Is it half and half, coffee cream or whipping cream?

Marilyn - from Royal Oak, MI

Why do some of the cake recipes say "no pudding in the mix" on your show? What difference does the pudding make?

Jane - from Richmond, IN

I am allergic to corn. There are times I encounter a recipe calling for corn syrup. Do you have any suggestions for an alternative?

Porsha - from Langley, British Columbia

I can't locate buttermilk. Is there something I can substitute?

Alejandra - from San Juan, Puerto Rico

In your recipes, you list confectioners' sugar as 4 cups, about 1 pound, but 1 pound is only 2 cups (1 cup is 8 ounces). Why are you listing this incorrectly?

Marie - from Bloomfield, NJ

Can you use chocolate chips instead of candy melts for making candy shells?

Charlynn - from Auburn, CA

What do you mean by sifted cake flour? Is that regular white flour or another kind of flour?

Jassie - from Houston, TX

Why is it important to use shortening when greasing a cake pan? Why shouldn't you use butter?

Iffa - from State College, PA

Can you substitute brown sugar for granulated white sugar? Do you substitute equal amounts or is there a certain ratio that is recommended?

Judy - from Branson, MO

Can butter flavored shortening be used instead of regular shortening for buttercream icing?

Stacy - from Katy, TX

When baking a cake from the box is it better to use water or milk? When a recipe or mix calls for water what is the best temperature to use – cold or warm?

Eliza - from Laredo, TX

I want to make a simple vanilla cake recipe. What is better to use: all-purpose flour or cake flour? What is the difference between the two?

Jessica - from Ottawa, Ontario

When making buttercream icing, can you use butter flavored solid vegetable shortening?

Donna - from Greenfield, IN

Hi Nancy, When a recipe calls for sifted powdered sugar..as in buttercream frosting, do you sift first then measure or visa versa?

Aurora - from Sitka, AK


The Public Television cake decorating show providing easy projects for special celebrations. Not intended to replace instructional classes.