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Find out more about some basic baking tips in this post, and why would each of them be important to the success of our bakes!
Do you find it challenging to have consistent baking results? Or maybe simply just want to understand better how the different ingredients work together, so that you can improve your bakes?
Actually, baking from scratch can be easy and fun too!
I started baking on my own when I was much younger, probably around 10 years ago. While I can’t say that the bakes previously were all good (some were like superrrrrr super sweet haha!), but they were all good experiences to me.
Through mistakes and hiccups that I’ve learnt along the way, here are some basic baking tips that you can use for next better bakes!
Baking Basics Tip #1: Read Recipe Before You Start
It is important that you read the entire recipe thoroughly before starting to prep the bowls, pans, ingredients and start baking.
When you understand what are the steps required, you can better decide on the time allowance and not rush through the process. Some recipes might require a few hours of resting or chilling. Some recipes might even need to rest the dough overnight. An example – I don’t think you might want to bake a loaf of bread at 3am right? :p
Also, when you know the various steps needed in the recipe, it is less likely that you will fumble in the preparation process. Bakes usually turn out better when we don’t fumble through the steps.
Baking Basics Tip #2: Mise En Place
This fancy term just simply means “putting in place”. It would be good to gather and weigh and the ingredients, prep your cake pans or baking trays, before you start mixing.
You might surprise yourself sometimes that you could run out of flour or sugar for the recipe that you are making. By putting everything in place before you start mixing helps you to have sufficient time to run to the supermarket to perhaps buy that packet of flour 🙂
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Baking Basics Tip #3: Weighing Properly
This is a very important step! Some recipes, like cookies, can be quite forgiving if the proportion of the ingredients is slightly off. Some bakes, like chiffon cakes or macarons, will need very precise measurement of the ingredients.
By weighing properly and correctly, it is more likely for us to get the right texture and look for the bakes.
Some recipes might call for cups of flour and sugar. From what I’ve tried and experienced, I find weighing using digital scale more accurate, rather than scooping and leveling with cups. So if the recipe you are following uses cups of flour and sugar, you can convert them to grams (g) for more accuracy.
Of course there would be ingredients that I use measuring spoons (teaspoons and tablespoons) with, such as baking powder, salt etc.
When tsp and tbsp are called, I make sure I use a knife to level the ingredients properly.
Baking Basics Tip #4: Grease Your Pans!
As part of mis en place, I will also make sure I get the pans and trays ready before I start mixing the ingredients.
For cakes, I am more used to greasing and lining them with parchment paper. You can also grease and flour the pans, depending on what baked goods you are making. For cookies, I will also line my baking tray first.
Baking Basics Tip #5: Room Temperature
For most recipes, such as cakes and cookies, we need to ensure that the ingredients are in room temperature. This particularly applies to butter. When making butter cakes or cookies, we will need the butter to be softened at room temperature. I usually will cut and weigh the butter, place it in room temperature for about 15 mins, and check if it is softened.
Other ingredients such as eggs will also need to be in normal room temperature. This will allow for better emulsifying in the mixing process, to ensure a good texture for the baked item.
In some recipes, ingredients may not be in room temperature – such as for scones or bread recipes. You may wonder why. That’s because bread dough will proof optimally around 23C – 24C. Our hot weather will not allow the dough to be in 23C if all ingredients are mixed in room temperature.
Baking Basics Tip #6: Check The Oven
You would also know that oven and the temperature are important in the baking process.
The thermostat in the oven might have worn out and is not working well after a few years. I have experienced before that the actual temperature in the oven can be -20C, compared to the dial.
By using an oven thermometer inside, you will be able to tell if the temperature is correct for the batter to be baking well.
I will also check on the temperature after the first initial few mins, if I am baking chiffon cakes or macarons – items that are more temperature sensitive. This is due to the opening/closing of the oven door, sometimes the temperature inside can drop by a 10C difference.
Before putting the cake pans or trays into the oven to bake, always preheat your oven 10-15 mins in advance.
Baking Basics Tip #7: Check The Time
Other than the temperature, the baking time is important too! For example, if the cake is baked at a slightly longer time, the crumbs will probably turn out dry.
You are very close to a successful bake if you follow the recipe closely, so don’t lose the successful bake at the very last step. Most baking time is just an estimated guide, because the total time needed to bake will also depends largely on the overall temperature in the oven.
If you are baking at the correct temperature, the baking time should not defer too far from the baking time stated.
For more temperature stable bakes, such as butter cakes and cookies, I usually set the baking time 2-3 mins before it should end, so I can check on the color and texture of the bakes. For cakes and cookies, when I noticed that they are evenly browned, I will usually open the oven door to check if they are done.
For example, for butter cakes, I will insert a skewer in the centre, and when a few dry crumbs comes out, I will take them out from the oven. For chiffon cakes, I will bake longer, until there are no crumbs clinging onto the skewer. Understanding the nature of the different types of bakes will also help you to decide on the baking time 🙂