Baking ain’t easy- no matter how easy your grandma may make it look. Confidence is absolutely vital for anyone that wants to succeed in anything. However, it’s even more important when trying your hand at something you’re not proficient in, such as home baking.
When you step into your kitchen with every intention of whipping up some cupcakes for your friends or family, you want to come out with a masterpiece. As a home baker, you may not have access to the best and latest equipment.
We know that you only have a limited number of mixing bowls to work with, 2 or 1 oven rack, and not nearly enough fridge space. So, if you’ve been making mistakes, it’s completely understandable. The good news is that it is possible to elevate your baking skills, even when such limitations are standing in your way.
Want to know how? Here are some tips that can help you become a fantastic baker:
It all starts with a clean kitchen
We cannot even stress how essential this is. If you already know that you have a day of baking ahead, ensure that you take time before to get your workspace clean and organized. The cleaner your kitchen is, the higher your chances of success.
This is because when your physical environment is orderly, then your brain works more efficiently and in an orderly fashion, thus making you a much better baker. Having a clean kitchen also works for mise en place.
Mise en place is all about having your baking ingredients prepped and ready to go. This means softening, melting, sifting and measuring everything that you intend to use beforehand so that you don’t have to do it during.
Mise en place presents bakers with a great opportunity to make sure that you have all your ingredients ready before you start. Heaven knows that there is nothing worse than running out of butter mid recipe. It may be a simple step, but don’t underestimate it.
There are many baking mistakes made by home bakers but one of the most grievous is baking without properly measuring your ingredients. When cooking certain meals, it’s ok to riff- in fact, it’s encouraged.
Extra soy in your stir fry? Great! A dash of rice win vinegar in your sauce? Why not? Wondering how your chicken would taste if you put 3 cups of yogurt instead of the recommended 2 in your rub? Go crazy!
When it comes to baking however, the rules are completely different because everything has to be weighed to precision- otherwise you risk ending up with a flop. To measure correctly, there are certain kitchen tools that you cannot do without, one of them being a quality measuring cup.
Although a lot of experienced bakers claim that you can bake by eyeballing your ingredients, it often results in backfires as it would require years of professional experience to bake without measuring. Measuring cups are simple yet super affordable tools that can help you measure your ingredients in the right ratios for the best results (check this review article on the best options available online right now). Let’s save the winging it for the salad dressing, shall we?
It’s not just enough to measure your ingredients. You also have to master the art of precision because baking demands it probably more than anything else. For example, of an upside-down cake recipe calls for you to fold your flour in 8 batches, a shortcut of 6 will only work against you and compromise the cake’s moisture or crumb.
Even the smallest of adjustments can result in failure. Think an extra tablespoon of flour won’t hurt? Wrong! Even an extra tablespoon can change the texture of your cake. As such, you should always make sure that you measure your ingredients and follow the recipe to avoid heartache and maybe even some embarrassment later on.
Understand that there is a difference between weight and volume
For you to be a master baker, it is essential that you learn the differences between weight and volume. Flour and other dry ingredients need to be weighed using a kitchen scale. If you don’t currently own one- get it.
Some people use measuring cups in place of weighing scales. However, it can result in some serious blunders that can cost you. For instance, it is possible to pack a dry ingredient such as flour too tightly in a measuring cup, which means that you’ll probably end up with double the amount required.
Weighing using a kitchen scale is the only way to accurately measure drier ingredients such as flour. Alternatively, wet ingredients such as milk, water and oil are measured by volume, which requires a measuring cup that’s been placed on a flat or a level counter. Measuring your wet ingredients on a rugged surface will result in inconsistent readings.
Use the right utensils
If you are following a recipe that calls for the use of 9-inch round cake pans, but you only have the 6-inch at home, refrain yourself from substituting. The pan size indicated on the recipe may not seem like a big deal, but it matters. This is because a lot of baked goodies such as bread or cake increase in volume and almost double during the baking process.
If you substitute your cake pan for one that’s too small, the batter will most probably overflow, which is the last thing you want. The color of your utensils matters as well. Glass of dark nonstick pans typically need a 25-degree reduction in temperature compared to say, silver colored baking pans.
Have you been baking your little heart out with no success? Are you relishing the thought of becoming a better baker? Well, this article was written just for you. The tips we have shared above will not only make you a better baker, but they will also help you to enjoy the process a lot more.
These tips are all practical pieces of advice that many home bakers wish they had learned when they first started. Follow them and they will save you a lot of energy, time and wasted cake.