Learning to bake can be a daunting task! My top ten tips are designed to give you some clarity of what you need to consider to ensure your first foray into baking is a success
- Read the recipe from start to finish - it can be tempting to skim a recipe and just plunge in to realise that maybe this recipe only uses some of the eggs for one part and the others for another or the total sugar is split into two. There may also be equipment you need for certain stages so by reading all the way through you can have a mental picture of what is required for the whole process
- Get out all the ingredients first - unless you have done a specific shop for the recipe it can be tempting to assume you have all you need. I have been caught short on eggs or butter thinking I had enough only to find that sadly wasn't the case! Having everything ready to go on your bench means you know you have enough and it is all at arms reach for the whole process
- Use accurate scales - digital scales are your best best for accuracy - ensure they don't get dropped or bumped as this can cause inaccuracies. If you are not sure if you scales are accurate, measure something you know has a weight on it such as a block of butter to test. If the scales are out by more than a few grams time for new ones
- Ensure measuring utensils are dry - wet utensils from measuring wet ingredients can cause the dry ingredients to stick and not be measured accurately into the mix. Too many inaccuracies can lead to your recipe not working. Either measure the dry out first or ensure you wash and dry the cups or spoons after measuring the wet ingredients.
- Level off measuring cups properly - it can be tempting to think close enough is good enough - ensuring your cups or spoons are level will ensure the correct amount - guessing for too many ingredients can lead to your recipe not working. Scoop out your dry ingredients and top with spoon using a flat knife to level the top.
- Pre heat the oven - this can seem obvious but it is essential for success - a cold oven causing mixes to cook unevenly - a preheated oven ensures even baking temperature and correct times
- Ensure ingredients are in date - opened products don't have a shelf life to their best before - ingredients such as flour, spices, and baking soda can all lose their flavour or raising ability if on the shelf too long. Date your open containers to ensure you know how long you have had the ingredients for.
- Use the right size pan for the right amount of mix - over filling cake tins can make a cake burnt on the outside and raw in the middle. Overfilled cupcake tins can cause overflow and messy products. Under filled tins will cook to quick and you will end up with a flat cake. Check the recipe to ensure your baking tins match the size given. Too small - see if you can cut down the recipe - too big perhaps double the recipe. Totally off - find a different recipe or purchase a tin in a more common size.
- Line tins and trays - I can this my insurance - it prevents your cakes and slices from sticking to the sides of the tray and tins and ensures you can cleanly and easily remove once cooled.
- Cook as soon as the mix is ready and use a timer - baking recipes do not like to sit on a bench for too long. Raising agents begin to activate and any air whipped it can start to release. When you mix is done, pop it in the pan and bake straight away. When it cooking put on your timer - it is easy to assume you will remember what time it went in but you would be suprised!
And most of all - have fun! Baking is an enjoyable way to cook and delicious results are just your next recipe away