So you think you’re not good at baking? With the holidays coming fast upon us, many of us hesitate to take on the monumental task of baking. Baking is very much a science, with many chemical reactions taking place that determine how fast your muffins will rise or whether your cookies will be soft and chewy or crisp and crumbly. There are techniques that need to be followed, and more precision is needed than in cooking, but following these simple tips will help you master any basic baking recipe and give you the confidence to try more complicated recipes.
Whether your recipes call for exotic spices such as lavender or pantry staples of flour and sugar, using the freshest ingredients whenever you can will yield the best results. The longer it sits on your shelf or in the compact fridge, the more it will begin to lose its flavor and freshness. Purchasing small amounts for ingredients such as baking powder or spices will ensure that the active ingredients in them will not be lost. It’s also a good idea to check the expiration date on your baking ingredients and buy new ones if needed.
Read The Recipe All The Way Through First
This way you will know exactly what ingredients are needed and if you have them all or need to run to the store to purchase anything. You’ll find out if any special utensils or pans are needed too. If you don’t have an item, sometimes you will be able to substitute different ingredients or prepare it in a different type of pan, with just an adjustment to the baking time.
Start Off Slow And Easy
Don’t try to make a Lemon Meringue Pie on your first attempt. Start with a simple recipe that incorporates some basic techniques and master that before moving onto recipes that are more complicated or call for difficult steps. You may want to practice one recipe several times to make sure you get the hang of it.
Don’t Only Rely On The Time
Many recipes tell you how long something should take to bake, but also give you a visual clue as to when it should be done. Often, the timing is approximate, since it depends on so many factors, so a better indication would be the appearance, which can tell you a lot. You’ll know when a cake or muffin is done when it’s nicely golden brown on top and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan slightly. Another example is when creaming butter. Recipes often say to cream it until “fluffy and pale yellow.” How long it takes to become like that can vary, depending on the temperature of your kitchen and the butter itself, and whether you are beating it by hand or with an electric mixer.
Use The Mise En Place Rule
The French stress that baking should always be an organized process. That means getting all your ingredients and equipment ready, ahead of time. Once you have everything set up in your kitchen, then you can start measuring and stirring. This ensures that you will not forget an important ingredient or step, which may lead to disastrous results.
If you follow these simple rules whenever you bake anything, the chances of you producing a delicious, mouth-watering dessert is much greater than if you were to jump in haphazardly without any regard for the science behind baking.
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