Home Baking: Tips for the New Home Baker, Part 2


So now you want to bake, and you are ready to go. But what if you mess up? And why is the mom next door’s cake look better than yours? And what if you get lost, and Grandma is at bingo? Keep reading, and take a deep breath, you have it under control.

It’s Your Kitchen, Continued

Know your recipe.

Before the oven is ever turned on, you need to know the ins and outs of what you will be preparing. Read and reread your recipe several times, and have all ingredients ready and organized. There is nothing worse than forgetting something in the fridge when you are stirring caramel on the stove! Keep your recipe out on the counter, and refer to it often to ensure good results.

Homemade baked goods are not always 100% from scratch.

While the diehards out there are throwing cookbooks at their screen, there is something that needs to be shared with everyone, but particularly moms. When you attend a function with beautifully prepared cakes and pies, you assume these moms (or churchgoers, or whoever) prepared them from scratch, unless they came from a bakery. And you get embarrassed, or jealous, of the help you got from Duncan Hines. Well, don’t. In a busy world, sometimes the help of a box is needed to get the job done. Or maybe your homemade frosting is better than your homemade devil’s food cake. Just because you took help, don’t despair! You may find you will improve over time, and not need a box, or you might use it for a time saver. It doesn’t matter. Take pride in your accomplishments, and you will find they will keep coming.

Baking is a science, it really is.

While you can eyeball your salad dressing measurements, guessing at baking amounts is a recipe for disaster. While flavorings can be changed, or substitutions can be made at times (a recipe will usually provide that info, if applicable), in general, the measurements for ingredients must be followed to ensure a quality product. Too much flour in a bread dough, for example, will result in a tough, dry loaf, while too little baking powder in a muffin recipe will result in a barely risen muffin. Be sure to have measuring spoons and cups as needed to ensure a proper end product.

Some kitchen equipment is not optional.

We just covered the importance of measuring supplies, but there are some things you will actually need, depending on what type of baking you are doing. For example, a rolling pin is needed for pie bakers, and a baking tile really adds a crusty finish to a French bread baguette. As you branch out into a specific type of baking, you will learn what you need to achieve the best results. While some things may be pricey (A KitchenAid Stand Mixer, for example), you will find that a professional result is worth it.

Not all projects will be masterpieces.

It happens, even to the pros (though they will never admit it). A pie will overcook, or a cake will not rise properly. In my case, preparing fudge was a trial and error process of several weeks. Sometimes, following the recipe is not enough, and it doesn’t guarantee perfection. But don’t give up! Keep trying, and find out what the problem is. Ask another baker, or read up on your ingredients. I found the humidity in South Louisiana is horrific to fudge making, but now I know there are days I can achieve perfection. And even then, mistakes happen. But as long as you keep trying, you will figure it out, and add another yummy treat to your list.

So, now that you have no reason not to, will you bake? Have you already impressed the family or neighbors with a yummy treat? Or, have you had the fire department inspect your fire alarms while you figured out you need a cookie sheet under that dripping pie? Just because accidents happen doesn’t mean you are not made for this. If you have gone this far, you will only continue to progress.

While you’re here, be sure to check out our kitchen product reviews!

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