Want to bake like a pro? Here are all the tips and tricks you need for the perfectly baked cakes and muffins.
Baking has been found to be a therapeutic experience for most people and can often help people in combating stress and depression. Once you have mastered the skills of baking, you can easily make multiple baked items in a day but that is not the case with a beginner baker.
Have you always wanted to bake cakes, cookies, bread, etc. at home? Want to become a better baker sooner rather than later? Just having the best stand mixer isn’t going to cut it. You also need to understand the baking process and everything that goes into it before you start baking. There are many important factors and things to keep in mind when you are baking for the first time and if you neglect these crucial points then you might end up with a burnt or inedible baked food.
In baking, it is always important to follow the recipe and to use the exact amount of ingredients as mentioned in the recipe if you want to achieve the best results. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you out with your initial struggles and help you bake one of the most delicious and aromatic food items ever!
One of the most frequent mistakes made by newbies is that they often tend to ignore the recipe. While it might not seem a big deal at the moment but substituting ingredients or skipping out steps in a recipe could do more harm to your baked food than you can imagine. A lot of us just give a glance to the recipe and then proceed with the baking process but we don’t realize this huge mistake and then often wonder at the end why our baked item didn’t turn out as it was supposed to.
So it doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or an experienced baker, always make sure that you read the recipe thoroughly before you start baking. Read all the steps and don’t skip out on an important detail. Check the ingredients and tools that you would require and make sure that you lay them out before you start baking.
Reading the entire recipe will give you an idea of the steps and you are less likely to miss a step this way. In fact, make sure that you read the recipe a couple of times to ensure that you understand and remember all the steps if you want your baked item to turn out good. Trust me, it takes barely 5 minutes and you are much more confident while baking once you know the entire recipe.
A lot of baking recipes often call ingredients at room temperature which might not seem a crucial information to remember but it really is. Many beginners don’t pay much attention to the room temperature part and continue to use ingredients which are cold from the refrigerator which could really alter the taste of your cake or cookie. This is why it is important that you use room temperature, eggs, butter, yogurt, etc. if your recipe mentions it.
It is not an unnecessary recipe step, room temperature ingredients emulsify much easier into a batter and help you with a uniform texture of your baked good. Obviously, it is not easy to cream a rock hard butter now, is it? In fact, room temperature ingredients give more volume and fluffiness to the batter which greatly helps with the taste of the baked food.
You can bring your butter to room temperature by either placing it on the kitchen counter few hours before you start baking or you can grate it to bring it to room temperature. For eggs, you can store them in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes and your eggs will be all ready for the batter but make sure you don’t use hot water which might end up cooking the eggs.
Baking is an art of precision which is why it is important that you use precise temperature, tools, ingredients, etc. while baking. This is why measuring your ingredients is one of the most crucial steps of baking. Now, if you have tried baking something earlier without using a proper measurement tool then you know why your cake or cookie didn’t turn out as it was supposed to. You have to use the precise ingredient measurement if you want your baked food to taste and feel good.
This is why it is important to have a good understanding of the measuring techniques. Always measure your dry ingredients in measuring spoons or cups that are design for dry ingredients and always use a spoon to level the dry ingredients. This is really crucial in case of flour.
For liquid ingredients, one should use a clear glass or plastic measuring equipment and ensure that the liquid ingredient doesn’t reach more than the required measurement marking. Once you learn how to measure accurately the ingredients, your baking skills would improve tremendously.
A lot of beginner bakers don’t understand that an inconsistent oven temperature can easily ruin your recipe. Most of the recipes require you to maintain a constant oven temperature for your mixture to bake properly and slowly but if you keep opening the oven door, then you don’t give your mixture enough time to bake completely. Opening the oven door at regular intervals can let a little heat escape every time which can slow the baking process or can leave your food uncooked from the inside.
Yes, it is tempting to frequently open the oven door to check on your cake or muffin but letting in the cool air will definitely ruin your dish. So, make sure that you open the oven door only once or twice during the baking time and be really quick about the testing. Use a toothpick to test the doneness of your cake but do it quickly else you would be left with an uncooked and flat cake.
One of the most frequent mistakes made by people is that they often tend to neglect the preparation for their recipe. They don’t get all their ingredients ready and at one place which can slow the preparation time and can really affect the baking quality.
When you are in the middle of batter preparation, you don’t have much time to think or spend else you will lose the crucial batter rising moments so it is important you have necessary ingredients close by to you. If you don’t keep the ingredients ready then you might end up adding more salt than sugar which could really alter the taste of your batter.
So, read the recipe beforehand and then place all your ingredients on the counter so that you can easily reach them when you are preparing the dough or the batter. Another thing to keep in mind is that fresh ingredients will also lend a better flavor to your batter than an expired or stale ingredient. So try to use as many fresh ingredients as possible when you are baking.
As discussed in the above tip, it is important to use fresh ingredients for your baking process which is why it is important to store them in a secure and airtight place. Of course, you can’t get fresh flour or baking powder every time you bake and it doesn’t even make sense to buy one for each time but you can certainly store them in a way so that they retain their freshness and don’t add a stale flavor to your dish.
You can store ingredients like baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, flour, etc. for around 10-12 months in a cool and dry place in an airtight container. For other ingredients, make sure that everything is stored away from moisture and in a cool, dark place. Many ingredients will need to be refrigerated once opened so as to retain their freshness. However, make sure that you check your ingredients for weird coloring or smell before you use it in your recipe as a precaution.
One of the most complicated tasks in baking is the breaking of the egg and separating the egg yolk from the egg white. Many baking recipes require you to use just the egg yolk or the egg white which can become a little tricky if you don’t know how to open an egg and divide the two parts. A lot of people directly break the egg into a container where they are mixing the batter but this can often lead to egg shells getting mixed with the batter too. You don’t want to munch on eggshells now, do you?
One of the best ways to separate an egg yolk from an egg white is to use a turkey baster’s bulb. Just take a standard-sized turkey baster and then use its bulb to suction the egg yolk away from the egg white. This is a considerably less messy and quicker way to get the egg parts separated and allows you to separate multiple eggs at a time.
Now, many of you might be following the recipe properly and would be using the exact ingredient measurements for your baking yet when you take your cake or muffin out of the oven, you find it hard to unstick from the pan. This is because a lot of us often forget to prepare the cake pan when making the preparations. If you don’t prepare your pan beforehand then you would turn with a stuck cake and won’t be able to get the whole cake smoothly out of the pan.
So make sure that before you pour in the batter into your cake pan, you properly prepare it. You need to first cover the bottom of your pan with a teaspoon of unsalted butter and then cover your pan bottom with a parchment paper. Then butter another layer on top of the parchment paper and proceed with the preparation of your cake batter. Once you pour the batter into the pan and bake it in the oven, you will find that taking out the cake it much easier than before and it looks much more presentable too.
In preparation of batter, one of the most crucial steps is to fold your ingredients carefully and slowly so as not to lose the volume or the fluffiness of the batter. A proper folding technique will help you in making your batter light and airy which will produce the most delicious cake ever. So it is really essential that you learn the art of folding in order to master baking.
Use a wide flexible spatula as it allows you to whisk more mixture together and really makes the folding task go quickly. The flexibility of the blade will allow you to scrape the mixture from the sides as well and will ensure that you scoop up every little batter available in the bowl.
Also, prepare the mixture in a big bowl as this allows you more room to fold and avoid stirring your batter. This will deflate your egg whites and make your batter look flat so be patient and keep on folding gently until you see an airy and light mixture.
Most importantly, when you are preparing the mixture, make sure that you mix the dry and wet ingredients separately. Sift the flour and add baking powder and cocoa powder to it and prepare the dry mixture properly before you add the butter and egg mixture to it. Always follow the recipe and mix the ingredients in the order that is told. This means that you need to avoid dumping your eggs into your flour mixture if you want your batter to turn out good and edible.