Note: This is a 2-part post with lots of baking tips to help you turn your baking from frustration to fascination! If you learn and follow these important baking rules, you are well on your way to more successes in the kitchen. ?
***Did you miss the first 5 rules? click this link to head over it.***
6. Use ingredients that are at the right temperature.
Using ingredients the right temperature make a difference. There’s science and an important reason why the recipe author indicated it. It’s not they want to make your baking more tedious.
Certain recipes call for ingredients like egg, milk, and butter to be at room temperature and many ignore this step. Please don’t! For example, when making buttercream, the butter should be at room temperature. Imagine if it’s cold, straight from your fridge – it’s not easy to cream that with sugar if it’s rock hard.
Another example: hot water may kill yeast. Different kinds of yeast are happiest at different temperatures so it is important to pay attention to what ingredient temperature a recipe calls for.
7. Don’t overmix (or undermix) your batter.
Overmixing can yield to a tough, dense crumb. To avoid overmixing your batter it is important to pay close attention to your ingredients and the ways they should be used in the recipe. Some ingredients like butter, oil, and milk are tenderizers; some ingredients, such as flour and egg whites, are tougheners. These tougheners give structure to your baked goods because of their protein content.
Some of the structural elements in a batter are affected by how well and how long you mix them. Let’s take flour as an example. Most cakes, quick breads, muffins and batter recipes advise stirring together the flour until “just combined” – a phrase that should not be overlooked. It is because the more you work the flour, the more the gluten develops. This method is good for baked goods like yeasted breads or pizza doughs where we want a firm and chewy texture, but definitely not ideal for cakes, cupcakes, and muffins where we are looking for soft, delicate crumbs.
8. Use the right baking pan.
When you use a different pan size from the one indicated in the recipe, you will need to adapt the amounts of all ingredients. If your cake pan is bigger, you will need more ingredients. If your pan is smaller, you can use less. You may have to adjust the cooking time as well.
It is also important to note that the kind of pan you used affects the cooking time. Dark colored pans heat up a lot faster than light-colored pans. A good analogy is that on a hot day, we tend not to wear dark clothes because it absorbs and radiates more heat, right? The same goes for dark pans that are placed in the oven.
If you want your baked good to brown at the bottom and sides then use a dark pan. Use light-colored pans when you want your food to bake more evenly all over and you don’t want to promote too much browning on the bottom and sides.
You might ask, do I have to buy a dark and light version of each pan? Luckily, no.? If you are using darker pans and your baked good doesn’t need browning, drop the temperature on your oven by 25ºF. And if you only have light-colored pans and your recipe calls for a dark pan, increase the oven temperature by 25ºF.
9. Don’t annoy your oven.
It is very tempting to keep opening the oven door to check if your bread or cake is coming along, isn’t it? Unfortunately, oven temperature can significantly drop if the oven door is left open even just for thirty seconds! There are some recipes, like the classic cream puffs (choux pastry), where heat temperature can make or break your results. When baking your choux paste, you start with the oven at high heat to help the pastries puff, then you lower it slightly to help them cook and to give them some golden color, and finally, you lower the oven a third time to dry the pastries out. Now if you open the oven door at the first stage, the pastries might not rise properly. If you continue opening, they might not dry out enough and would not give you its signature hollowed inside.
So if your cake is almost done baking and you’re checking it for doneness every few minutes, this means that the oven never has a chance to recover. No wonder it sometimes seems like a cake is taking forever to finish baking, right?
10. Remember not to skip the cooling part.
I know it’s hard to wait, especially when you’re excited to see your finished product. But you might have to start all over again if you try to skip the cooling part. Give your baked goods a chance to finish baking from within and acclimate itself to room temperature. Icing a warm cake will just melt your frosting.
Use a cooling rack to cool your baked goods. Unlike a trivet, which simply holds a hot object off of your countertop or table, the design of a cooling rack allows air to circulate through it, reaching all sides of a pan. As the pan cools down far more quickly than it otherwise would your baked goods are prevented from overbaking in the residual heat of the pan.
So there you go! I hope you have learned a thing or two. Which ones are you already practicing and which ones are you guilty of? Honestly, I was guilty with rule numbers 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, and 10 back when I started baking.? And after practicing these tips, I have seen a tremendous difference in the results of my baking!
Baking is a lot more fun once you’ve nailed the basics. Put into practice these 10 baking rules and you’re on your way from frustration to fascination. Happy Baking!
***Missed the first 5 rules? click this link to head over it.***