Hi everyone, hope your having an awesome Friday. So many of you have asked me to do a post on Baking Basics… so this is it. As most of you know I am not classically trained, but I do Love baking and looking back now it showed from an early age.
I remember baking over the holidays with my mom – I think it was called messing back them. But this slowly evolved into something I would do when I needed to escape some stress, like exams. Needless to say my family, Dad in-particular loved it. My mom and I decided to bake a bunch of assorted homemade biscuits and cookies to give to the neighbours and friends/family. This was a great hit with all… and we decided to make it a bit of a tradition – which sadly died a slow death, I am hoping to revive.
People say that Cooking is an art, but Baking is a science. I guess I kind of agree with that. I mean when you cook, it usually works when you add a little of this and a little of that. However, don’t think of trying this with baking, because without a keen understanding of proportions, you’ll likely create a disaster. This said, I am also a firm believer that greatness starts somewhere… and practice makes perfect.
For a beginner I think the very first tip is to start with something simple, like a chocolate or vanilla cake. Don’t get ahead of yourself and decide your going to make a batch of the perfect French Macarons on your first try. If it’s a disaster you’ll lose faith in your ability and go back to those nasty box mixes that, although partially prepared by you, contain all the synthetic indigence we really want to stay away from.
Read the Recipe in Its Entirety: Read the entire recipe slowly that way ingredients, tools, and steps aren’t accidentally overlooked. Baking is about precision, so it’s very important that you are familiar with the recipe before beginning. I usually read through the recipe a few days before I use it, especially if it’s something new I’m trying for the first time. If it’s something technical I would also search for a tutorial on utube and listen to the suggested hints and tips.
Take out all the Ingredients and Tools Needed: Prior to beginning the fun part, take all of the ingredients and tools you’ll be using out and place in a nearby area, but away from your work surface. Then double-check that you have everything. There’s nothing worse than realizing you are missing a crucial ingredient or tool halfway through making the recipe; especially when you’ve got your hands involved.
Bring the Ingredients to Room Temperature: It is very important that you take the butter and eggs out the fridge and bring to room temperature. There is nothing worse than trying to make dough or frosting/icing and your butter is still hard and clumpy.
Properly Prepare Cookie Sheets or Cake Pans : If the recipe says the cake/muffin pan needs to be greased or for the cookie sheet to be topped with parchment paper, then follow the directions as stipulated. It will save you from burnt, sticky, or broken confections plus cleanup will be a breeze. You don’t want to waste hours of scrubbing hardened crumbs off of your bakeware. The silicone sheets are awesome for biscuits/cookies and you can purchase them on-line and YuppieChef or at Clicks.
Preheat the Oven: Most recipes will remind you to preheat the oven at the start; but get in the habit of preheating the oven before you put anything in it. Be careful not to pre-heat the oven on a higher temperature just to speed up the process as this may cause whatever your baking to flop.
Use Liquid and Dry Measuring Cups: Often a recipe will ask for a few cups of flour, then again for a cup of water/milk… so try to separate your dry and liquid measuring utensils. The other tip is to use liquid measuring utensils, like a glass jug with measurements on the side and make sure to accurately weigh your indigence if that’s what your recipe asks. I use an electronic kitchen scale, which is so awesome because it’s not only easy, but accurate.
Sift Dry Ingredients : Yes I know this can be a bit of a bother, but sifting your dry ingredients improves the overall texture of your baked goods plus gets rid of any lumps and clumps. Sift the ingredients into a large bowl or wax paper to avoid a mess and if the recipe says sift twice… you should sift twice.
Crack Eggs in a Separate Bowl: It’s a bad idea to crack eggs directly into the batter bowl, because there’s a greater risk of tainting it with egg shell shards or a rotten egg. Rather be safe than sorry and crack each egg individually into a separate bowl, check for any shell shards before pouring the raw egg into the batter bowl.
Combine Ingredients According to the Recipe : It sounds obvious, but consult the recipe, then slowly and carefully add each ingredient into the bowl as instructed. I know it’s exciting to want to rush through the making process to get to the baking process… but trust me this could end up being a costly mistake.
Set a Timer: The first thing you should do after inserting the pan into the oven is set a timer. It’s easy to forget when you keep track of the time in your head. You are better off setting a device with a loud, obnoxious alarm so you don’t run the risk of burning your precious, hard-earned work. The time stipulated on the recipe may also vary from over to oven so it may be a bit of trial and error sometimes.
Once you have used a recipe so many times you know it by heart… you can start experimenting with it and becoming creative with your decor. My advice is to enjoy what your doing and challenge yourself to try new things and before you know it you’ll be a pro in the making.
Have a great Week-end and Happy Baking