The science and precision behind pastry-making can sound quite intimidating to home bakers. To help ease you into this new hobby or bounce back from failed attempts, we have 7 baking tips that will maximize your chances of success.
Prep all your ingredients
Before you start mixing and baking, get all your ingredients ready for a smoother process and less panicking because timing and temperature are often very important in baking. You don’t want to leave your fluffy batter out to deflate while you hurriedly cut and peel fruits to add to it.
Start at room temperature
For the best consistency, make sure your ingredients are at room temperature before you mix them together. That’s the secret to fluffy baked goods. This is especially important when you’re beating butter and sugar together. A quick way to get your butter to temperature is to cut it into smaller cubes.
If the recipe calls for eggs to be added, make sure they’re not straight out the refrigerator or it can cause your batter to go chunky.
Always scrape down
Whether you’re using a stand mixer, a hand-held mixer, or pure elbow grease to mix up your cake batter, don’t forget to run your spatula around the bowl a few times to make sure you get all the little bits of butter and flour incorporated into the mix. Don’t forget to check the bottom of the bowl too - some beaters will not reach that far.
Double check your oven temperature
Even though your oven comes with a temperature indicator, it may not always be accurate, especially if you have an older oven that maybe isn’t as effective in distributing the heat. Invest in an oven thermometer, which aren’t very costly, and pop it into the middle of your oven to have a more accurate read.
If you find a significant difference between the figures shown on the thermometer and your oven, you may need to have someone recalibrate your appliance.
Stick to the recipe
Unless you’re quite an experienced baker, you should avoid making adjustments to the ingredients or you could throw off the ratios and mess up the chemical reactions that will make your baked goods moist, crumbly, or airy. Even simply halving the recipe can be tricky as it may affect the baking time and temperature, so be cautious and do your research.
Coat fruits and nuts with flour
If you’re adding garnishes, like chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruits, or fresh fruits, to your batter, toss them in a little flour to help suspend them in the batter and keep them from sinking to the bottom of the pan. This way, you’ll have a more even distribution of ingredients in every bite and slice.
Enhance flavors with flavors
Vanilla and chocolate may be the most basic flavors for cakes, but it doesn’t mean you can’t jazz them up a little. Add a small drop of almond emulsion to your vanilla cake batter to bring out the aroma. Don’t worry, you don’t really taste the almond. For chocolate cakes, sprinkle a dash of ground cinnamon or star anise to give your batter a touch of spice that will help to bring out the cocoa flavor.