It’s true what they say. It’s the small things that matter. These 18 small baking tips and tricks are about to make big differences in your baking journey.
1. Before baking anything, prep the baking pan before you prep the batter.
It is to ensure the baking pans are well lined with parchment paper or grease to avoid any cake batter sticking to your cake pans after baking. It is quite a simple step and will make your cake retain a perfect shape every time.
2. To make whip cream extra fluffy, refrigerate your bowl beforehand.
Chilled bowl will give you the best results by making the best volume from the whipping cream. If it gets too warm, the fat melts and air escapes. After whipping for some time and if your bowl isn’t cold anymore, you can simply get a bigger bowl and place some ice with a little water and then place your whip cream bowl over it and continue whisking.
3. Making a layer cake? Flip the top layer upside-down to get a perfectly flat and even top perfect for frosting application.
If your cake rises too high and is not stable as you place it on the frosting. You can trim the cake a little to have a flat base and then only flip it over.
4. And when decorating, secure the cake with a spoonful of frosting at the bottom so it stays in place.
By doing this is to prevent your cake from moving or wobble as you are filling them up with frosting. And also ensure the cake has totally cooled down because the warmth from the cake sponge will transfer to the frosting resulting in your frosting to melt.
5. If you’re using a turntable, pre-line it with parchment so it stays clean while you’re frosting.
Line any remaining space on your turntable before you start to frost your cake. When you’re done, you can simply remove the parchment paper, revealing a clean stand or space with little cleaning and save time too!
6. Amp up the flavour of chocolate baked goods by adding espresso powder to the batter.
I can’t say scientifically why adding a touch of espresso powder or instant coffee helps boost the flavour of chocolate but it does help to enhance the flavour of cocoa. Just like adding a bit of salt into your dessert doesn’t make your dessert salty but to give the recipe balance and to enhance the flavour. Same goes for chocolate, adding coffee enhances the flavour of chocolate.
7. Let your cookie dough “ripen” for at least 24 hours in the fridge before baking.
The word ‘ripen’ simply just means resting cookie dough in the refrigerator before baking it. Some recipes call for a quick chilling. Chilled cookie dough before baking or leaving it overnight to chill allows the flavours in the cookie dough to develop so you could get a richer and more decadent cookie after baking. The hydration in the cookie dough makes the dough less wet, concentrating the flavours. This resulting cookie with a nice even baked and golden brown colour after baking.
8. Make sure you’re using the right size eggs for your recipe.
For baking, the size of an egg is very crucial hence it can seriously impact the end product. Eggs play an important role in baked goods because it adds structure, leavening, colour, and flavour to cakes and cookies. It is also best to use fresh eggs. Most recipes used large eggs (Grade B) as the standard. Though each egg’s volume may vary slightly, using large eggs will yield results closest to that of the recipe.
The best way is to measure your eggs.
Grade AA / Jumbo = 70g
Grade A / Extra Large = 65g
Grade B / Large = 50g
Grade C / Medium = 45g
Grade D / Small = 40g
9. When a recipe calls for room temperature butter, actually use room temperature butter.
Before you start working on your batter, be sure to leave your butter to room temperature beforehand to allow it to be at room temperature until it is softened so that it is ideal for temperature and consistency. It should be soft enough that your finger can make an imprint without any resistance. But also it shouldn’t be too warm that the butter looks shiny or greasy.
Or if you think this might take a long time, you can cut it up to smaller cubes and it will fasten the process of reaching it to room temperature.
10. Invest in a digital kitchen scale and in an oven thermometer.
A digital kitchen scale is a chef’s best friend in the kitchen. It is a very important tool to use in baking. It gives a very accurate measurement compared to cup measurement. Using cup measurements requires more dishes to clean and it is a bit messier. So using a digital scale can reduce all of those.
For an oven thermometer, does it really matter if your oven temperature is a few degrees lower or higher?
Apparently, it does. For baked goods that highly rely on temperature like soufflés and macaroons, a slight difference by 5c could mean under or over baking.
11. If you want to fully nail the look and texture of a cookie, take some time to learn the science behind it.
When it comes to creating the perfect cookies, it’s important to keep chemistry in mind. Exactly like a science lab, baking cookies is just like studying chemistry and experiments. Even the smallest changes can actually affect the outcome for example oven temperature variations, ingredients used in recipes for the Maillard Reaction to take place, temperature of cookie dough and so on.
Some cookie lovers may love a soft cookie and some may prefer a crispier cookie. But there is no need to have a separate cookie recipe just to cater to everyone’s wishes
12. Use your hands-instead of egg shells-to separate the whites from the yolks.
Before you buy your eggs for baking, always remember to buy fresh eggs. When the eggs are fresh, the egg white has a layer that protects the egg yolk. If the eggs are not fresh, the protein in the egg white has denatured over the days resulting in the difficulty to separate the whites and yolks with hands. If the eggs are fresh, you can easily separate the whites and yolks with your bare hands.
Also, another tip is that eggs are best to separate the whites and yolk right out from the refrigerator as when the eggs are cold, the eggs hold together better.
13. If you’re beating egg whites into stiff peaks, check if they’re ready by flipping the bowl upside down.
Beating egg whites is one of the basic baking skills but have you ever realised you have an under whipped egg whites? There are a few factors to take into consideration while beating egg whites.
Egg whites need to be at room temperature, why? It is because they’ll have a more liquid viscosity than when they’re cold, which permits air to be readily incorporated into them to build volume.
A room temperature egg white can foam up to 6 to 8 times its original volume.
Once you have whipped it into a fluffy meringue but not too sure whether it is at medium peak or stiff peak you can just flip your bowl upside down. A perfect whipped meringue will stay in the bowl. If it still flows as you tilt your bowl, you have an under whipped meringue.
14. Don’t skip sifting.
Why shouldn’t you skip sifting your dry ingredients? Is it really that important?
Cake flour, bread flour, almond flour, baking soda, icing sugar and cocoa powder tend to clump up in unopened packages or when it is exposed to air. Well sifting the flour or dry ingredients helps to give a consistency in recipe results and also by eliminating large particles which could possibly cause a densely textured in baked goods or even could sink in the middle.
If coincidentally you do not have a sieve at home, there is another way is that you could use a whisk and whisk through the flour or dry ingredients. Just whisk it to break the clumped up dry ingredients.
15. And when a recipe tells you to cream the butter and sugar together, take the time to do it right.
Remember one of the tips about having a room temperature butter? Well this comes in handy. You should cream butter and sugar when your butter is at room temperature.
When butter and sugar are creaming together, the sugar particles and sharp edges of sugar crystals will enter the soft butter and create air pockets. This creaming method is to aerate the batter, which helps lighten the final baked good during baking.
But in order to get the creaming method right, you should cream it until it is lighter in colour, texture and it should be fluffy and about 1.5 times more in volume.
16. Prep your piping bags in a glass or a Mason to fill them without making a mess.
Don’t have an extra pair of hands to help out in the kitchen? Struggling to put frosting or batter into your piping bag? You can use a Mason jar or any tall glass cup from your kitchen and simply place your piping bag into the jar and fill your piping bag. Doing it this way can save your time from cleaning up the mess in your kitchen.
If you have a few piping bags with frosting that you have filled up but you can’t tie it to secure them? You can use your kitchen food sealing clips and clip your piping bags to prevent it from flowing out from your piping bags.
17. Preheat your oven before baking.
Almost all recipes require the oven to preheat and this is one of the crucial steps in the baking process. Preheating your oven allows the oven to take time to reach the correct temperature set before you put anything in. If you skip this step, your oven will not be hot enough and the end result might be a mess or even undercooked. So this is why you should preheat your oven as early as possible.
18. Always add a pinch of salt to your dough or your batter to make it more flavorful.
Just like adding coffee into chocolate baked goods, adding salt into your batter or dough not only enhances flavour but it also affects the tenderness in your baked goods. The molecules in salt form strong bonds with proteins in flour or egg and cause gluten molecules to become less mobile, tighter and more elastic.
After all, salt is about making things more delicious. Salt is the one of the keys to enhance flavours, creating recipe balance and making desserts totally crave-worthy. It gives everything that little crave that will make you want to take one more bite.
19. Is it done yet?
To know whether your cake is done, insert a clean wooden skewer or clean knife in the middle of the cake. If your skewer or knife does not come out clean, bake it a little longer. Your cake should be ready when it comes out clean.
Anyhow, always check the colour of your cake too. If it is not a golden colour, it is not cooked. But sometimes, a golden-colored cake looks cooked but if you insert a skewer in and it does not come out clean then it is not cooked. It simply just means your oven temperature is too high.
Another test to try is to look if your cake springs back when placing your hand on top and pushing down slightly. If it does not, place it back in the oven for a longer time.
20. Let it Cool
Ever felt so excited when your cake is done baking and you can’t wait to frost your cake? Well we know how hard it can be to cool your cakes. But you really would want to avoid some baking disasters in the kitchen. Have you experienced a cake falling apart as you are unmoulding it or your frosting slowly starts melting away when you are layering them? Cooling your cakes right from the oven is essential as it allows the steam that traps inside to completely evaporate, which will make your cake so much easier to handle.
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