As a baker, I have encountered a lot of baking failures due to some little mistakes in the kitchen. Over time, I have been able to overcome those mistakes and baking has become a success. If you want to improve your baking experience then these basic baking tips for beginners should be your baking companion in the kitchen every time.
Read the Recipe Thoroughly
The first tip for successful baking is to read the recipe you are using thoroughly to make sure you have all the tools and ingredients listed in the recipe. Some recipe requires that you do some prep work a day before the actual baking begins so spare yourself some kitchen disaster to go through the recipe. Also reading the recipe helps to familiarize yourself with the process. Baking is a science so every step is important and it is not advisable to skip any step especially if it is your first time trying the recipe.
It is good to bake according to the recipe for the first time as a new baker and make notes as you work your way through the recipe. You can make changes or substitutions when using the recipe for the second time. This will help you know more about the ingredients and their effect on the final project as well as how different the baked product will be. Therefore save yourself some kitchen problems and always read the recipe thoroughly before you start baking.
Check Expiring Date of Leavening Agent
Baking powder and baking soda are the two main chemical leavening agents used in baked goods. This leavening agent causes baked goods to rise when baked resulting in high volume and light texture goods. A lot of people have baking powder and baking soda and since they do not do a lot of baking it stays in the pantry for a long time. Others also have them place in the fridge to help eliminate odors or scents from the fridge and this should not be used for baking. if you don’t bake that often, then it is important to test the baking powder or soda to see whether it is active or not. When the leavening agent is expired, the baked goods will not rise properly and that will result in baked goods that are flat, dense, hard, and light in color.
How to Test Baking Powder or Soda
To test whether your baking powder or baking soda is working, all you need is ½ teaspoon of the leveling agent in a bowl and pour ¼ Cup of hot water over it. It is good if it fizzles or bubbles up and releases carbon dioxide then you are good to go if it does not then you need to make a quick trip to the grocery store to get a new one or open a new container.
Another important basic baking tip when it comes to baking is the temperature of the oven. It is necessary to always preheat the oven before you start mixing your ingredient so that the oven heat up to the required temperature stated in the recipe. This is very important because when the oven is not heated to the right temperature it will prolong the baking time and that will affect the end results of the product. Inaccurate temperature can result in overbaked or under-baked food, denser texture, and even burnt items. The oven thermometer is a deal-breaker here since it ensures accurate temperature for your baked goods every time.
- Always take note of the temperature the food needs to be baked at and how long the food has to be in the oven as stated in the recipe. With this aspect, I prefer to set a timer for the baking time since I’m a busy person. As a side note, I usually use the lowest time stated in the recipe since all ovens are not the same. If the recipe does not have a time range then I will reduce the time by 10 minutes. check if the food is done by inserting a toothpick into it and when it comes out clean then it is cooked or the food has a golden brown color or press down on top of the food slightly and when it bounces back then your food is ready.
- Let your bread and cakes cool for about 10 minutes in the baking pan before moving them to the cool rack.
Measurement of Ingredients
If you want to achieve a perfect baked good every time, then measuring of ingredients is very important. Measurement can be done in different units of measure but when using cups and spoons, always use standardized cups and spoons. Check on the basic baking tools and the use of various measuring tools and their uses. For the most accurate measurement, use a digital kitchen scale for all your measurement.
How To Measure Ingredient Using Cups
- For cup measurement, always scoop the ingredients with a scoop and pour them into the measuring cups, and level it. Do not bang on the cup since this will increase the quantity of the ingredients more than the recipe called for especially measuring flour.
- For liquid measurement, use a glass or plastic measuring cup with a pouring spout for easy use. Place the cup on a flat surface before filling the cup and check at eye level to get the right quantity.
- When you are measuring honey, corn syrup, and molasses which tend to be sticky. The easiest way is to spray nonstick cooking oil into the measuring cup before using it to make it easy to pour out
- Always be mindful of how the recipe instruction has been written especially when it comes to measuring and sifting flour. There is a difference in the amount of flour sifted before weighing and weighed before sifting. If a recipe calls for sifted flour, then sift the flour before measuring it. On the other hand, if a recipe calls for flour, sifted, then measure the flour first before sifting.
It is a good practice to bring all your ingredient out of the refrigerator at least an hour before you start baking. Butter and cream cheese will soften to make it better for creaming before using, eggs and milk also mix better when they are at room temperature. The exceptions to the room temperature rule are when making pie crust, biscuit, or scones because the butter needs to be cold to help make flaky pastry and so is whipped cream for frosting and others. Room temperature means the butter should be cool to touch and not warm, also your finger should not sink into the butter but should make an indent. For frosting and cakes, always use room-temperature ingredients for the best result.
Mise en Place/ Preparation before Baking
Mis en place is another important step when baking. The term mise en place means to prep all the ingredients needed for a recipe and organize them before baking. The preparation will include reading through the recipe, measure your ingredients ahead of time before starting a recipe, taking ingredients from the refrigerator to come to room temperature before using when necessary, toast and chop nut when needed, prep baking pans required by the recipe, and adjust oven racks and preheat the oven. These preparations will save you time in the kitchen and reduce rushing during baking.
Taste the Food Before Baking
Last but not least, always taste the raw dough or batter to find out if it tastes good on your taste buds. This will help you know if you have left any ingredients out or not. It will also help you make adjustments to the taste of the food before it is baked.
when all these baking tips are implemented when baking, then you will be on your way to become a better baker.
Other Baking Topics to Read
Thanks for reading. As always, know that God loves you and have a blessed day.