Tips for Baking Like a Pro
Have you ever been perusing recipes and found one that sounded fantastic but didn’t attempt it because it seemed a little too complicated? Or that it might be above your pay grade, so to say? If you have, you are not alone.
Some recipes seem extremely complicated. If you haven’t been to culinary school, you might shy away from certain things. Stop! You don’t have to! We have some fantastic #bakingtips so you can tackle any project in the kitchen and come out victorious on the other side.
Of course, we would love for you to swing by Sweetbriar Rose and try and of the fantastic things our incredible chef cooks up. She was an executive pastry chef in New York City and comes up with some of the most delicious treats around.
So, without further ado, check out our no-fail, must-have, guaranteed-success baking tips now!
This first tidbit is good advice for baking anything, but particularly cakes. Read through the entire recipe before starting anything. Measure out your ingredients beforehand, so you ensure you have everything and all the ingredients are added to the batter. While this makes a few extra dishes and takes a little more time, you won’t regret it in the end.
If you love baking cakes but find your finished products end up dry or crumbly, there is a simple solution. Check out Amazon for a special soaker bottle that has several nozzles (picture a showerhead). Poke several holes in your cake with a toothpick or other small object first. Then, fill said bottle with a simple syrup and spray down your cake.
The moist and delicious cake in every bite will leave all your guests thinking you spent a ton of money on a professional cake!
Cookies are a favorite dessert for many. Not only are they relatively easy, but they are also delicious, and you usually have all the ingredients on hand. However, if you aren’t letting your dough rest overnight in the fridge, you are missing out.
In professional terms, this is called “resting the dough,” and it makes a world of difference. A dough that has sat in the fridge overnight will have more flavor, a better texture, and more defined shape.
If you are rolling out cookies, don’t feel like you have to stick to flour to keep the dough from sticking. Depending on your cookie, you could use flour, powdered sugar, or cocoa powder. Remember, what you use could affect the flavor. Using unsweetened cocoa powder when working with chocolate dough is an industry secret few know about.
If you don’t own a bench scraper, you are missing out. These handy tools are useful for a variety of kitchen tasks, including cutting dough, scraping and smoothing out cakes, and cleaning up your workspace.
Another thing every kitchen should have is a food scale. For the best results baking, measure your ingredients by weight, not volume. You might be surprised with the difference in your cookies and cakes.
If you love a beautiful cake but lack the skills to decorate one yourself, do yourself a favor and order these Russian piping tips. They make decorating a cake or cupcake simple while looking intricate and expensive.
One problem many bakers don’t realize they have is an inaccurate temperature reading on their oven. You might type in 350℉, but the temperature is 320℉. This differentiation can cause significant issues with baking. Invest in an oven thermometer to ensure your food is baking at the temperature you set.
This tip is not a recommendation for a specific tool, but rather ensuring you use the proper tools. Follow the instructions for the pan size and type, according to your recipe. If you use a smaller pan than the recommended one, your cake or bread could overflow.
Furthermore, consider what type of pan you are using. If you are using a glass pan, or a dark nonstick pan, you most likely need to lower your temperature by about 25℉. If you are a serious baker, your pans will take a beating. It is ok, even necessary, to invest in new ones when the old ones start chipping or warping.
Technique is Everything
When you are making cakes, you might pour the batter into your pan and throw it in the oven; this would be a mistake. To properly prepare your pan, rub the bottom and edges with butter, then apply a thin layer of flour (for vanilla cake) or unsweetened cocoa powder (for chocolate cake) to the entire pan. This coating will make for easy removal after baking.
While we are talking about removing things from pans, do not rush to get the cake or bread out of the pan. Allow the baked good to cool completely before removing. With bread, you will want to let it sit for at least an hour, because the inside of the bread is still cooking.
When you are pouring your batter into the pan, take an extra moment to tap the edges of the pan a couple of times. This movement should remove unwanted air bubbles. Spinning the pan a few times will push the batter towards the sides of the pan which will keep the cake from forming such a large dome in the middle.
One of the most important things to remember when baking, from muffins to cakes to cookies, is you do NOT want to overwork or over-mix your batter. Generally, your recipe will say “mix until combined,” and that is all you want to do. The end product will be more bread-like and less cake-like because the gluten is too activated.
Don’t be afraid to use your hands. Many people are scared to get their hands sticky or dirty, but oftentimes, this is the best way to mix things. When using your hands, you get a good feel for the dough. The more time you spend baking, the more confident you will get with how the dough should feel, depending on what you’re making.
Memorizing recipes is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. There are some basic equations you can learn to help you remember how to make things. For example, remember 3-2-1 for pie dough. You will need three parts flour, two parts butter, and one part water. Check out this excellent resource for some helpful shortcuts using ratios.
Visit Sweetbriar Rose
At Sweetbriar Rose, we spend a lot of time baking, and we mean A LOT. Thankfully we love it. Because we spend so much time baking and cooking, we want to share some of the things we have learned.
We would love to see you in our store if you are in the Fredericksburg, TX area. Stop by Thursday through Sunday and try one of our delicious pastries or from-scratch sandwiches, or just enjoy a refreshing glass of beer or wine on our patio. We hope to see you soon!