You have a beautiful new cook book filled with pictures of mouth-watering baked goods. But just because you have a recipe doesn’t mean your product will turn out like the picture. Let me share with you a few baking tips and techniques that will help you become a better baker.
I love baking. It’s my love language. Creating beautiful, yummy treats out of a jumble of ingredients is my happy therapy for snowy or rainy days. So you could say I’ve got quite a bit of experience.
Plus, when I was a teen, our family had a bakery that supplied a couple restaurants and our store with yummy, (mostly healthy) baked goods.
I spent many hours out there baking and helping Mom perfect new recipes and techniques. So I’m sharing my tips with you! I’m sure there are lots more baking hacks out there, but this is what comes to my mind and is what I do whenever I’m baking!
General Baking Tips and Techniques
- Read the entire recipe and instructions before beginning to make sure you have all the ingredients and utensils.
- Pre-heat the oven.
- Prepare the pan(s) with grease, flour or parchment paper.
- Use dry measuring cups for dry and liquid cups for liquid.
- Measure dry ingredients per ounce on a scales when the recipe requires ounces.
- Measure wet ingredients per ounce in a liquid cup.
- Level each cup of dry ingredient with the back edge of a butter knife or your finger.
- Don’t pack brown sugar unless the recipe directs to.
- Always crush baking soda, baking powder and cream of tartar in the palm of your hand to get rid of any chunks.
- Let your butter sit out on the counter to soften to room temperature before baking.
- Let your eggs come to room temperature before baking.
- Scrape the edges of your bowl a couple times during the mixing process.
- Butter is best for baking: use soft butter for recipes that call for shortening or margarine. Use melted butter for recipes that call for oil.
Cookie Baking Tips and Techniques
- Cream (beat until well blended) the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla before continuing on to the rest of the recipe.
- Don’t mix, but stir in chunks like raisins, chips and nuts.
- For baking, start the cookies on the bottom oven rack. Move them up when you insert the next pan of cookies.
- Rotate the pan of cookies end for end partway through baking to ensure even doneness.
- Cut out cookie dough is easier to work with if it’s been refrigerated for several hours or overnight.
- For cut out cookies, dip the cookie cutter in flour to keep the dough from sticking.
- A cookie scoop makes drop cookies so much easier! Read More: Cooking for the Freezer: How to Make and Bake Ahead
Cake Baking Tips and Techniques
- Cakes usually require extra patience because you have to add the liquid and dry ingredients alternately and only 1/4 cup at a time, mixing well between each addition.
- Never substitute regular milk for buttermilk or vice versa.
- You don’t need cake flour to make a cake. Sure, it will make it a bit fluffier, but I always use regular flour.
- For cupcakes, just use a cake recipe and put the batter in cupcake pans.
- Let it cool for 10 minutes before flipping it out of the pan.
Muffin and Quick Bread Baking Tips and Techniques
- If you have an empty hole in the muffin tin, put a bit of water in it to help the rest bake more evenly.
- Let them cool for 10 minutes before flipping them out of the pan.
- “Quick breads” are usually sweet breads using baking powder or soda for leavening. These recipes can be put in muffin tins, as well.
Yeast Bread Baking Tips and Techniques
- Store yeast t in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer to ensure freshness.
- One packet of yeast is equal to 2 1/4 teaspoons.
- Allow extra time to make a yeast recipe because of all the raising time.
- As you are kneading, add less flour than the recipe calls for. Work it in and continue adding more. It’s better to have slightly sticky dough than too stiff of dough.
- Grease the bottom and sides of the pans all the way.
- Cutting yeast bread before it cools will smoosh it.
Read More: How to Make Homemade Bread
Pie Baking Tips and Techniques
- Start with cold ingredients for the crust. Cold butter, cold lard, cold water.
- Don’t over-mix the crust dough.
- Place a cookie sheet or piece of parchment paper on the shelf below the pie while baking to catch any juices as the filling boils over.
- Usually you can cut the sugar by 1/3 or 1/2 and still have a delicious pie.
Read More: Flaky Pie Crust Recipe
Biscuit Baking Tips and Techniques
- Start with cold ingredients in a non-yeast recipe: cold butter, cold lard, cold milk or water.
- Don’t over-mix.
- Err on the side of rolling the dough too thick versus too thin.
- Use a canning ring to cut out biscuits if you don’t have a cookie cutter.
- Dip the cutter in flour to keep the dough from sticking.
Butter is best in any recipe! Therefore I don’t consider it a substitution. It’s just a given for me. Always use softened butter if the recipe calls for margarine or shortening. Use melted butter, cooled to room temp, if the recipe calls for oil.
If at all possible, make the recipe exactly as instructed the first time. After you see how the recipe is supposed to turn out, then you can fiddle around with substitutions.
- Buttermilk: add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to a 1 cup measure and fill the rest of the way with milk. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes. [I haven’t bought buttermilk in years. I just use my homemade kefir whenever a recipe calls for buttermilk!]
- Cake flour: put 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in the bottom of a 1 cup measure. Fill the rest of the way with flour.
- Baking chocolate: For one ounce: Melt 1 tablespoon butter and mix in 3 tablespoons cocoa. Add to the recipe.
- Corn syrup: I use honey, maple syrup or brown rice syrup if a recipe calls for corn syrup.
- Whole wheat flour: If I’m using whole wheat flour in a recipe, I initially cut it back by a cup. I add in the remaining cup as I see the recipe needs it. Generally, whole wheat flour makes a recipe drier if used in the same amounts as white flour.
This is just an overview of baking tips and techniques to help you in the kitchen today. By reading the entire recipe from beginning to end and following a few of these simple rules you can be a baking queen!