Baking: A science or is it Art or is it just a love to create baked goodies with different textures / colour? Whichever the case might it be, here are some simple and easy baking tips to remember.
When I started baking some years back, I did not know anything about baking other than the fact that baking leads to delicious cakes 🙂 But after baking a lot of goodies, I’ve learnt that there are some simple things which will help us to get a fluffier cake or a softer bread or a chewy cookie.
I am not a self-taught baker; I studied and then taught for a while at The Institute of Baking and Cake Art, Bangalore. The time that I spent at the institute was just amazing. So much to learn and so much to teach; we all learn by teaching, don’t we?
Here are some simple and easy baking tips to keep in mind
Measure all the ingredients that are required for the recipe and keep them ready before you start
Each recipe for a baked goody can be different and there could be various ingredients that go in a recipe plus the number of steps for each recipe could also vary. Measuring out the ingredients before starting out the recipe ensures that, you can concentrate and enjoy baking rather than running in between to get ingredients and leaving a messy kitchen. It also helps you to see whether you have all the ingredients. If not a quick run to the nearest shop and voila, let’s Bake !
Measure all ingredients at room temperature
Always have the ingredients such as butter / eggs etc at room temperature. This ensures that the ingredients mix really well or in very complicated terms – emulsify well. At room temperature when you are mixing butter with sugar there is no curdling or melting, just one cohesive mixture which results in fluffier, lighter cakes!
3. About cake tins, pans and loaf tins
Different types of batter or dough call for different types of cake tins or pans. Get to know a little more about the recipe and buy a good quality tin. Always read through the recipe and have pans /pots and equipment required for making the baked goodies.
4. Measure your ingredients using the measuring cups or the weighing machines
Its just a mater of weight Vs volume…the weighing scale well gives you the weight of each ingredient and the measuring cups give you volume of each ingredient.I believe that baking is a science and correct measurements are a basic but mandatory requirement… weighing assures precision and accurate measurements of each ingredient. Imagine this..recipe says a cup of flour – do you take a cup of flour flattened on top or should it be bulged ?? both the way you get a cup of flour, but when you measure them on a weighing scale, the weight would be different..a baking is like a little chemistry experiment going on…a difference in in the amount of ingredient would alter the final batter or dough consistency. Another example of this- 1 cup of flour is 125 gms, but 1 cup of liquid like milk would be 250 ml/gms… entirely different weight isnt it??
5. Always pre- heat your oven before baking
Every recipe calls for baking at a particular temperature. Bread bakes at 200 deg C, cake at 180 degree C or Pizzas at 240 degree C. This means that when you are going to place your prepared cake batter or proofed dough, the oven should be ready at the required temperature.
For example – I bake many cakes at 180 degree C – if I place my prepared batter in cake tin at a much lower temperature then the batter would take a longer time to rise / cook and the end result would be pale in colour rather than a golden colour on top.
Alternatively if you place it at a higher temperature then the batter would rise much faster, top would get golden faster and the batter could remain under-cooked.
6. Baking powder and baking soda are not the same
Baking soda is also known as Sodium Bi carbonate and it reacts with acidic ingredients such as curd or vinegar, this produces carbon dioxide ( the bubbles that we see in the cake batter)..this helps in rising of the batter etc. There are times when you would want the batter to rise for a longer period of time and that’s when Baking powder comes in handy. Baking powder contains, sodium bi carbonate and two types of acids….when it is added to liquids – both the acids react with sodium bi carbonate at different temperatures ( room temperature and hot inside the oven)….this helps in rising of batter for an extended period of time…lots of bubbles resulting in fluffier cakes or muffins 🙂
7. How to moisten cakes
Moist layered cakes. Use some light sugar syrup to moisten the layers of cake before filling buttercream or whipped cream
8. How to get better-flavoured cookies
Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least a couple of hours before baking. These yield better cookies with better flavour
9. How to get a flat topped cake
Once the batter is poured inside a cake tin, tap it a couple of times to remove excess bubbles = this will give a flatter top rather than one with a dome
10. Remember to cool the cake
Completely cool the cake once it is baked before removing from the cake pan as otherwise the cake would collapse and break since it is warm
11. Checking if a loaf is baked
Want to know if a loaf of bread is baked right? A bread is ready when you hit the top of the baked loaf with fingers you should get a hollow sound
12. Removing the bread at the right time
Once the bread is baked in a loaf pan, remove it as soon as possible . This will reduce the chances of a soggy bread
13. Correct Way to Cut a loaf of bread
Cutting a loaf of bread to slices = reverse the bread so that the dome faces down and cut on the base of the bread loaf – easy to cut 🙂
14. The best way to do frosting
Piping bags and nozzles are a good buy to create beautiful frosting designs on cakes and cupcakes.
15. Everyone makes mistakes
Yes, that’s a baking tip. Especially when you expect perfection at the word ‘go’! It’s okay to fail and correct the mistakes made. Just continue with baking. It will be alright.