Baking Tips – 7 Quick Tips
1) Understand the ingredientsSo my first baking tip to you guys would be to understand the ingredients you’re working with and the science of baking! Let’s start by talking about baking powder and baking soda, for instance. Baking powder has baking soda plus an acid in it so it reacts in itself. However, baking soda is alkaline and needs an acidic ingredient going in the recipe to react. So, use your baking soda only in a recipe that has an acid going in it, otherwise, you’ll get that horrible soapy taste. I use it in my chocolate cake, carrot cake or any dessert with citrus in it. Talking about sugar, I recommend not using granulated sugar for baking as the chunks are too big and they don’t always melt in the oven, giving cakes that unwanted crunch. However, I would use this sugar for anything that I’m making on the stove like a compote or caramel.
2) Ingredients at room temperatureMake sure all the ingredients that you are using are at room temperature, especially the ones stored in the fridge like eggs, butter, and milk. If your eggs aren’t at room temperature, place your eggs in a bowl and submerge them in room temperature water. Let them sit for 5-6 minutes and they’ll be ready to use! The temperature of butter is the most tricky when it comes to baking and the consistency you’re looking for is softened. The reason why I never use butter straight out of the fridge is that it’s too cold and hard and it becomes almost impossible to emulsify it. However, I recommend using cold butter for pies, crumbles, and crisps. I also don’t use melted butter for my cakes until the recipe calls for it because it doesn’t have enough structure. So always use butter that’s neither too hard nor too soft!
3) Precise MeasurementsI’m not a big fan of the phrase “Baking is a science” because it makes baking sound super intimidating, scary and boring. But I can’t deny the fact that you need to be very particular while measuring your ingredients. The most accurate way of measuring your ingredients is using a weighing scale but I know for a fact that not a lot of us have access to a measuring scale. So I would recommend you to get your hands on a good set of measuring cups and spoons. Whenever you’re using a measuring cup to measure your ingredients, use a spoon to transfer your ingredient into the cup and then use the back of the spoon to level it. While measuring flour, never pack the flour into the cup because in that case, you’ll end up getting more than what you need for your recipe.
4) Prep your pan correctlyThere’s nothing more disappointing than a cake that’s stuck and doesn’t come out of the pan so it’s important to prep your pan properly! Always use a pastry brush or your fingers to brush your pan generously with butter or vegetable oil. Whenever you’re prepping your pan for baking, parchment is your best friend. Fold it into half, then another half and then twice diagonally. Measure it from the center of the pan and cut out the excess. Unfold and you’ll have a parchment that fits perfectly into your pan! It’s also important to understand the difference between parchment paper and butter paper. Always use parchment paper to line your pans because butter paper is not always heat resistant and does not hold the shape in the oven.
5) Add one egg at a timeA lot of recipes require that eggs be added “gradually” or “one at a time” to the dough and batter. When you’re baking with eggs, always add them one at a time. If you add all the eggs at once, you run the risk of splitting the batter! So it’s always recommended that you add one egg and mix it well before you add the next.
6) Never over mixThis is the most important tip to keep in mind when you’re baking. Never over mix when you’re combining your dry and wet ingredients. This is one mistake that I made for the longest time when I started baking because I thought that the more I mix the batter, the better the cake will be. So ditch your electric mixer and switch to a spatula! The best way to mix your dry and wet ingredients is to cut and fold. Use a spatula to cut in the middle of the mixture, scrape the bottom and gently bring it to the top. Continue this slowly until everything is well combined. If you over-mix at this stage, you end up knocking out all the air that you’ve incorporated in your batter and this leads to a dense cake. Remember to mix only until you see no flour pockets in the batter.
7) Always Pre-heat the ovenTime and temperature affect the texture and flavor of baked goods and starting in a cold oven affects both of these variables. So, it’s important to pre-heat the oven before placing your cake. I always place my baking tray in the middle rack and please remember that the time mentioned in your recipe is always indicative. It may take slightly longer or slightly shorter, depending on your oven so keep an eye but don’t keep opening the oven door or else you’ll disturb the baking process.
So these were the baking tips that I’d like you to keep in mind the next time you enter the kitchen. I guarantee you, every time you take out a cake from your oven, it’ll be exactly how you want it to be! If you have any other tips, let me know in the comments below. Happy Baking!