Many of us didn’t learn baking at our mother’s knee – here are some tips to help to fill those gaps.
1. USING YOUR OVEN TO BAKE
– Position the oven racks before you preheat the oven.
– Usually you bake in the centre of the oven but follow the recipe instructions.
– If you are baking biscuits or small cakes, rotate the dish halfway through cooking so that they cook evenly.
– Always check the oven earlier than the recipe states: ovens vary and yours may cook your baked goods faster than the tester of the recipes in the cookbook.
2. READ THE RECIPE FIRST
– Always read the recipe first so that you know you have all the ingredients you need. There is nothing worse than realising that you only have half the quantity of baking powder when you have creamed the butter and sugar. (If you run out of baking powder and have cream of tartar in the house you can make your own baking powder from scratch.
– Measure everything and have it ready.
– Let the ingredients come to room temperature where required.
3. BAKING BOWLS AND UTENSILS
– Have all the bowls and utensils and baking tins ready before you start.
– Butter and line any tins with baking parchment before you start mixing ingredients.
– Write the dimensions on the bottom of each baking tin with a permanent marker to make them easier to identify.
– If you use re-usable silicone parchment, cut it to size for each baking tin and when you have washed and dried your tins, pop the silicone back into each tin ready for use next time.
– Always dry your baking tins as quickly as possible so they don’t rust.
– Invest in heavy tins as they conduct heat more evenly and won’t warp.
– The darker the metal, the better it will conduct heat but this can be a problem for lighter cakes where you don’t want them to brown too much.
– If you have problems getting a ‘crisp bottom’ on a tart or pie and want to avoid Mary Berry’s Great British Bake-off quibble about a ‘soggy bottom’, use a glass pie or baking dish so you can look underneath to see if the crust is golden.
4. USING BUTTER IN BAKING
– Take the butter out of the fridge at least half an hour in advance if it needs to be soft and 15 minutes before you start to bake if it needs to be at room temperature.
– Cut the butter into cubes to speed up the softening process.
– You can soften the butter in the microwave but take it out of the foil wrapping first! Microwave it at 5 second intervals and stop heating it before you think it is ready (it will continue to melt after you remove it).
5. GET YOUR BAKING INGREDIENTS READY
– Weigh all the ingredients you need and have them ready in bowls before you start. That way it’s just an assembly job and you won’t be pouring ingredients onto the scales with mucky hands.
6. USING EGGS IN BAKING
– Eggs should be at room temperature. Remove them from the fridge at least 20 minutes before baking or warm them in a bowl of warm water. The exception is where you are making a recipe where you need to separate the eggs, it’s best to use the eggs straight from the fridge.
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