Before you get started baking your favorite cake, cookie or bread recipe, there are a few things to keep in mind.
These simple baking tips will help you bake like a professional!
- Always read through the entire recipe before beginning to bake. This ensures that all necessary ingredients are on hand before you start.
- Check expiration dates on all perishable ingredients, so that running to the store doesn’t happen in the middle of baking.
- Preheat the oven and check it with an oven thermometer. Most ovens can run anywhere from twenty five degrees to cooler to twenty five degrees hotter than it should be. This ensures that the oven is set to the proper temperature.
- Follow directions on adjusting oven racks, prepping baking sheets, and using the right size baking pan.
- Measure ingredients accurately. This means holding measuring cups up to eye level to be sure, especially with liquids. To measure dry ingredients over fill your measuring cup, then level it off with the flat edge of a knife.
It’s always best not to rush the baking process if you want to have the best results. Allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy the time you make to bake!
These next baking tips are all about ingredients.
There are many different kinds of flour, and they are not all the same. Bread flour is important for all yeast leavened breads. Bread flour works best for loaves of bread, however put it in quick bread or a cake recipe and it will be too dense and heavy.
Cake flour is very fine and is meant for cake recipes. All purpose flour or unbleached all purpose flour can be used for most any baking. Bleached and unbleached flours can be used interchangeably. Make sure to store flour in an airtight container, in a spot that cool and dry for up to six months. It will store even longer if kept in the freezer as will your yeast.
For those on wheat-free or gluten-free diets there are many companies today that sell baking mixes especially formulated for those with allergies or food sensitivities. Two of our favorite companies are: Ener-G Foods, Inc www.ener-g.com 1-800-331-5222 and Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Inc www.bobsredmill.com
Baking powder and baking soda are not interchangeable. Baking powder is a combination of baking soda and an acid. It’s leavening ability works when mixed with wet ingredients and then baked in the oven. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. When it mixes with an acid ingredient like buttermilk, yogurt or molasses, it makes carbon dioxide bubbles that make baked goods light and airy.
Baking tips for working with chocolate are important. First there are different types of chocolate. Unsweetened chocolate is chocolate liquor that has at least fifty percent cocoa butter and no added sugar. Various amounts of sugar added create bittersweet, semisweet, and dark chocolate. Milk chocolate is dried milk powder, cocoa butter and added sugar. White chocolate is made with cocoa butter instead of chocolate liquor. Unsweetened cocoa is made from chocolate liquor with 75% cocoa butter removed and then dried and ground into a paste.
When melting chocolate it is easy to burn it, so always melt it over very low heat. You can choose to use the double boiler method, the direct heat method, or the microwave oven method. But be sure to stir it frequently!
Following these simple baking tips will ensure your cookies, breads and cakes turn out great!