Just starting on your baking journey and don’t know where to begin? Let us assist you with some helpful, easy tips and tricks that can change your experience for the better!
By Lily McDonald
There is nothing more satisfying than devouring a mouth-watering dessert you created it with your own two hands. While buying a delicious treat may seem like less of a hassle, it is not nearly as rewarding and causes you to miss out on all the enjoyment that comes from baking! So let us break down the crucial tips and tricks that can help any novice baker become a master of the trade.
The first step in the baking process is gathering the ingredients needed to make the perfect dessert. It is important to make sure that you are carefully reading the recipe, as it is easy to get confused. Is it asking for salted or unsalted butter, granulated sugar or brown sugar, flour or cake flour, baking soda, or baking powder? A useful tip is to take out all of the ingredients before you begin, therefore you can visualize everything listed in the recipe. This way, you can protect yourself from avoidable mistakes.
Always use fresh ingredients! The older they get, the more likely the taste and performance have deteriorated over time, ruining your creations. Another crucial detail you must be aware of is the required temperature of the ingredients. Sometimes ingredients such as eggs, butter, and milk have to be either cold, warm, or room temperature. This is always listed in the recipe right next to each ingredient. In preparation for baking, if it says room temperature, make sure you take it out 30 minutes to an hour beforehand so it has the chance to become the perfect consistency. If you don’t follow these directions, you may end up with a botched batter and texture.
One last important trick is that if you look at a recipe and find you are lacking some items, there are many things that you can simply make yourself! Instead of buying a bag of cake flour, sift together all-purpose flour and cornstarch to make a homemade substitute. Countless ingredients that can be made easily. All you have to do is look them up on the internet, and you will find numerous techniques to create your own.
As you begin pouring ingredients together into your mixing bowl, there are many ways to make sure you are using the correct technique. If you add too much or too little of a specific ingredient, you can end up altering the taste and consistency of your batter. But this is easily avoidable. First of all, ALWAYS use measuring utensils! While eye-balling it might seem simpler, there is a high chance that you can not guess the right amount of the ingredient, which can hinder your baking experience. For dry ingredients, there is a basic tactic to use to confirm your measurements are accurate. Using the back edge of a knife, gently drag it across the measuring cup to level out any excess substances. This way, you can see if you added too much and rectify the mistake before baking the dessert. For wet ingredients, you should set your measuring cup on a flat surface and then look at eye level to confirm that you poured the precise amount. Once you ensure that you are accurate in your measurements, you can be assured that the end result will be as tasty as possible. Measuring can be uncomplicated, all you have to do is follow our straightforward techniques!
Mixing is the least demanding step in the baking process, but there are still some tips that you should know to guarantee your results are as delicious as possible. Most importantly, do not mix too much or too little. This can lead to desserts that are tough and chewy or crumbly and chunky. Some ingredients, such as butter and cream cheese, need to be beaten for a certain amount of time to ensure that they can smoothly cream together with the rest of the batter. Usually the recipe calls for these ingredients to be light and fluffy, so you should beat them until they are the required consistency. Another thing you must pay attention to in the recipe is what type of mixing needs to be done. Certain ingredients need to be beaten, creamed, sifted, folded, or blended together. Following these instructions is crucial for the end result to come out just right!
Baking Equipment Must-Haves
Another distinct factor in baking is the supplies that you are using during the process. While using a hand mixer is perfectly acceptable, investing in a stand mixer makes the experience so much smoother. All you have to do is wait and let the machine do its thing! Also, you should try not to use cake pans and baking sheets that are too old, as this can affect how your creation is cooked. It can lead to unevenly baked desserts with some spots overdone and others underdone. Speaking of evenly baking, to protect yourself against burnt treats that are stuck to the bottom of your pan, use parchment paper! This not only preserves your kitchen tools but also guarantees that the product comes out of the oven just right.
Baking Time Tips
The trickiest part of baking is definitely the time spent in the oven. While the recipe may call for a certain time, you could find yourself with a dessert that is either burnt or severely underdone. Sadly, there is no quick fix, as every oven behaves differently. But there are some tricks to protect yourself against a ruined dessert. We suggest checking the dessert at least five minutes before the given time. You may see that the edges look more done than the rest of the creation, but remember, in some ovens, things do cook unevenly. So, while your edges appear done, the middle could still need more time. You can insert a toothpick into the middle and if it comes out clean that means it is done, such as with cakes or cupcakes. But we suggest that even if the toothpick does not come out completely clean to still take it out of the oven. Desserts tend to bake after removing them from the heat, as they continue to cook in the pan. Therefore, you should never transfer it to the cooling rack immediately after it comes out of the oven! Different types of desserts may require more or less time, so always pay attention to the recipe. Baking time is just a guideline, you know your oven best, so trust your gut when it comes to your kitchen!
One of the most delectable parts of a dessert is the frosting on top! But typically, recipes mislead you in the amount you have to make. They usually call for a ginormous quantity that leaves you wasting ingredients and an entire bowl of extra frosting. Our advice is simple, just cut the recipe in half! The taste will remain the same, but instead of having way too much, you will end up with the perfect amount. Additionally, never frost your dessert immediately after removing it from the oven! If you do this, the frosting will melt, leaving you with a botched creation. We suggest waiting about two hours before frosting your dessert. This way, you can ensure the delightful taste of your treat!
Finally, you have baked your dessert and made your frosting, it’s time to decorate. While it may seem like your creation is incomplete without an innovative design or fancy decor, let me let you in on a little secret: it’s all going to taste the same. Don’t get too caught up in designing the perfect dessert; just have fun! For those who want their frosting to look a little neater, we suggest using piping tips to make fun styles and messages. The only guideline for this step in the baking process is to enjoy yourself and be proud of how much you have accomplished so far!
While recipes are certainly important, there is leeway in some areas of the instructions. If you find the perfect chocolate cake recipe that is paired with a frosting that you despise, we encourage you to mix and match! Also, if it includes a topping that you just don’t find tasty, don’t include it in your final product. After making your frosting, if you find it tastes a little too buttery or sugary, balance it out with other ingredients, even if the recipe doesn’t call for it. There are many things you can do to incorporate your own personal preferences into your dessert! Don’t get too caught up in all the details, you are the one eating this creation, so do what makes you happy!
The task of baking may seem daunting, but in reality, it can be made much less complicated if you follow our tips and tricks! Let’s stop buying desserts and start making our own scrumptious treats. Even if the end result isn’t perfect, we can promise you that you will still have a great time while baking!