Baking is more than making delectable treats. It’s a way to create, entertain, and nourish — and it comes with powerful mental benefits to boot. It’s also a thrifty way to treat a family’s collective sweet tooth.
But there’s a problem. Baking is hard. Really hard. You can make the same recipe time and time again, and it always comes out wrong in a different way.
What gives? Odds are, you aren’t doing anything wrong. The basics of baking are hidden well, but they can be the difference between a moist cake and a burnt one.
Luckily, you don’t need to go far to find them. Read on and up your baking game with these baking tips.
1. Ingredients Matter
Not every brand of milk, butter, or sugar is crafted the same. In addition to varying flavor profiles, they’ll have unique textures, moisture, and more. As individual ingredients, the differences may seem small.
But they’ll have a massive impact on the quality of your baked goods.
Make an effort to try different brands of ingredients on a regular basis. As you continue to bake, you’ll discover brands with qualities you love — as well as those you should avoid.
2. Wait for Room Temperature
Whether chilled, melted, or soft, the texture of butter is everything in baking. If the recipe calls for room temperature butter, exercise some patience. Yes, it can take hours for everything to reach the right consistency.
But it’s worth it. If your butter is too cold, it will remain chunky even under the power of the best mixing machines. And if you try and cheat the system by microwaving butter, the heat can cook or separate important ingredients.
There are a few ways to soften butter quickly when you don’t have time to wait.
3. Don’t Forget About Carryover Cooking
The baking process continues once you pull baked goods out of the oven. This is known as carryover cooking.
For this reason, you should always take baked goods out of the oven a bit early. Maybe the tops of the cookies still look wet or the cheesecake still has some wiggle. That’s okay because they’ll finish cooking once you pop them out.
4. Baking Tips Can’t Replace Excellent Bakeware
You could have the best baking tips in the world, but you won’t be cooking your best with low-end bakeware. Quality cooking utensils are more consistent and offer better heat conduction. In turn, this means you’ll just bake better.
For example, a ceramic muffin pan will outcook a flimsy steel tin any day of the week. It’s a little more expensive, but it’s absolutely worth the price. Shop around for good deals on bakeware and try to replace cheap pans and trays you use on the regular.
5. Learn to Weigh Ingredients
Most home chefs measure by volume with plastic measuring cups. But, as you know, this type of measuring is inconsistent. A cup of flour can vary drastically depending on how you pack your ingredients.
Baking is a science. If you don’t use the same amount of ingredients every time, your baked goods will always come out different.
But if you learn to weigh ingredients, you’ll never have this issue. 200 grams of sugar is always 200 grams, no matter what.
6. Rely on an Oven Thermometer
Unless you have a professional oven, it’s probably not as accurate as you think. The thermometer could be off by 25 degrees and some parts of the oven can get hotter than others. Even for basic baking, you should consider an oven thermometer.
It’s a bit more work to look inside the oven to check the actual temperature. However, that can be the difference between perfect cookies and overcooked disappointment.
7. Rotate Baked Goods
Since most ovens aren’t perfect, they may cook certain parts of your food faster than others. Thankfully, there’s an easy fix.
For one, always set your pans in the square center of the oven. And at the halfway point, crack the oven open and rotate your baked goods. This will ensure a better, more even cook.
8. Chill Dough Before Baking
Many cookie recipes ask you to chill dough for at least an hour beforehand. Don’t ignore it! As part of baking basics, you should always follow the instructions.
When you chill cookie dough, it reduces how much your cookies will spread in the oven. This will impact the cooking time and consistency of the cookie. But also, chilled dough allows flavors to intensify.
Even if a recipe doesn’t ask you to chill cookie dough, you should consider this option when your dough is too thick or sticky to handle.
9. Preheat to a Higher Temperature
An oven thermometer can help you regulate your oven, but there are more baking tips and techniques to make the most of it. In the brief time it takes to put your pans in the oven, you’re letting out hot air.
It may seem insignificant, but it can really affect how well your baked goods cook. With the help of your oven thermometer, preheat your oven about 25 degrees over the actual cooking temperature.
Once your baked goods are in the oven, set your oven back down to the proper temperature. The extra temperature creates a buffer, ensuring your oven doesn’t dip down below the proper heat.
10. Don’t Skimp on Flouring Pans
There’s a reason most recipes tell you to either flour or butter your pans. If you don’t, your baked items are going to cling to them. This means you’ll ruin your food when you’re trying to free it.
Always add a heaping helping of flour or grease to avoid this problem. A little bit extra isn’t going to ruin the recipe, I promise. The same isn’t true if you don’t use enough.
Bake Like a Professional
Since baking is a science, anyone can learn to do the job well. In fact, most of the work has already been done for you. Decades of baking experience have led to balanced, delicious recipes.
You just need to learn how to follow them. These baking tips can help you make the most of your time in the kitchen. Keep baking, keep practicing, and before too long you’ll wow your friends — and yourself.
Did you find this article helpful? If so, search the rest of our blog for more tips for hardworking moms.