Baking tips to become a great baker

Baking tips to become a great baker

Do you feel overwhelmed and panicky when someone asks you to bake anything? Try some or all of these baking tips that I’ve learnt over the years, to help you become a great baker.

  1. Baking is NOT rocket science. If I can do it, then you can become a great baker too!!!
  2. I cannot stress this often enough: READ THE RECIPE – Not only the first few lines of the recipe, but the full ingredient list as well as the method of preparation. When you understand exactly what is required you will feel less apprehensive or overwhelmed and more inclined to start your dish.
  3. Ensure that you have all the ingredients and other baking tools and utensils set out and put in place, ready to use, before starting your baking.
  4. Ensure that all the ingredients are at room temperature. Hard, cold butter is difficult to work with when a cake batter requires the butter and sugar to be creamed together. Adding cold eggs can seize it up even more.
  5. Weigh the dry ingredients since a cup of flour or sugar may not weigh the same if packed loosely or tightly. It is always advisable to invest in a digital kitchen scale for consistent results, and resort to cup measurements only when there is no other option.
  6. Sift the dry ingredients after measuring, unless the recipe specifies otherwise.
  7. I only use cake flour for baking everything except bread. If you only have All Purpose flour on hand use the following formula from theKitchn: 1 cup AP flour – 2 Tablespoons AP flour + 2 Tablespoons cornstarch = 1 cup cake flour. I use 140 grams as a standard cup of cake flour to achieve the most consistent result.
  8. Measure the wet ingredients in a clear measuring cup or jug on a level counter and check it at eye level for accuracy.
  9. Combine the ingredients in the order mentioned in the recipe, at least at the first attempt. You may want to try different techniques later, but know what the end result is with the original recipe, before attempting changes.
  10. Prepare the cake pans and cookie sheets according to the recipe instructions. If no instructions are given, google it. As far as possible, use the pan sizes mentioned in the recipe as it will affect the end result.
  11. Preheat the oven to the temperature mentioned in the recipe, taking into account your oven’s hot and cold spots. Incorrect temperatures will affect both the texture and volume of the baked good, so resist the temptation to put it in before the oven is preheated to the required temperature.
  12. Check for doneness a few minutes before the end of the recommended baking time by inserting a toothpick or wooden skewer into the centre. Sponge or sandwich cakes tend to shrink back from the pan when done and baked bread sounds hollow when tapped.
  13. Allow cookies and cakes to cool down completely before storing or decorating, unless otherwise mentioned in the recipe. Packing warm cookies and biscuits on top of each other makes them soggy and soft. Unless it is meant to be soft and gooey, try to avoid that.

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