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Being a great baker is like being a great magician. You take a bunch of ingredients and turn them into something delicious. If you’re not an experienced baker, your first time making your own cookies, cake or other baked goods can be a little scary. Baking seems quite different than normal cooking. It’s true that there’s a learning curve to baking; however being a great baker is in many ways easier than being a great cook.
In baking, there are just a few key techniques you need to learn to be able to bake most things. With cooking, almost every dish is completely different.
Get All Your Ingredients in One Place. This is advice you commonly see in cookbooks and recipes. It’s so common, in fact, that many people start to ignore it.
With baking however, this is a crucial step. Beginning bakers will often forget one or two ingredients their first time along. In baking, timing is everything. If you suddenly realize you don’t have an important ingredient the moment you need it, the whole batch could be ruined.
Don’t leave your ingredients up to chance. Get everything in one place before you start. Re-read the recipe to make sure you truly have everything you need in front of you. For your first few times baking, it can also help to measure out all your ingredients before you start. That way you can focus on baking, instead of measuring ingredients once you’ve begun.
Measure Ingredients Exactly. Don’t just add “a pinch of sugar” or a “generous amount of milk.” When you split the dough in half, don’t just eyeball it. Yes, seasoned bakers can just “eye it” and cook up fantastic meals. For beginning bakers who’re following recipes however, exact measurement are crucial. Don’t use imprecise measurements until you’ve baked what you’re baking a few times.
Use Baking Sheet Lining. Line baking sheets on your kitchen counter, where you’ll be placing your cutting board and ingredients. This helps flour from getting all over the place. Line your baking sheets to help prevent cookies from sticking. Use lining generously throughout the baking process. You’ll make much less of a mess, need less time for cleanup and your baked foods will come out better.
Don’t Over Mix. In recipes, you’ll often find the phrase “don’t over mix.” But what exactly does that mean?
In the last phase of making cake batter or cookie dough, you combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. As soon as this happens, the flour starts to bind with the rest of the ingredients and the dough starts to form. Mixing helps this process happen.
However, if you mix the dough too much, the bond will get too strong. The cookie dough will grow tough, which will result in hard to chew cookies or brittle and dry cakes.
So what’s the right amount of time to spend mixing? Mix only until the texture in the dough or batter is even. As soon as you can’t see flour anymore, stop mixing.
Don’t Confuse Baking Powder with Baking Soda. In normal cooking, it’s not unusual to substitute one item for another. Ran out of garlic? Throw in some onions or ginger to give it some spice. In baking however, some items simply shouldn’t be switched out for others.
Baking powder and baking soda are two such items. These are two very different mixtures that shouldn’t be changed for one another. Doing so will easily ruin your recipe.
Baking powder is baking soda, except it has acid in it. Baking soda has no acid. These cause different reactions. It’ll cause the cookies or cake to rise in different ways. Don’t interchange these, or you’ll get something quite different than what you expected.
The Perfect Time to Pull Out a Cake. Baking your cake for too long will suck the moisture right out of the mixture, resulting in a dry cake that simply doesn’t taste good. You’ll have wasted hours of hard work for nothing. Knowing the right moment to pull out your cake is crucial.
One simple test you can use to test whether or not the cake is ready is to stick in a small skewer. You can use thin wood skewers, glass skewers or even just toothpicks. If you see batter coming off on the skewer, it needs a bit more time. If it’s just cooked crumbs and it’s otherwise clean, the cake is ready.
You should start testing the cake for doneness once you see the edge of the cake contract from the pan. In other words, when a gap starts to appear on the edge of the cake, between the cake and the pan, that’s when you should start testing your cake.
Sift Your Dry Ingredients. Using flour that’s been compressed isn’t a good idea. It lumps together and creates a denser texture. Sifted flour on the other hand is airier and makes for better cookies. The same goes for other dry ingredients like baking powder, baking soda and cacao. Make it a habit to sift your dry ingredients before you do any baking.
Learning to bake your own cookies or cakes is a fantastic way to add some sweetness to your family and your friends’ lives. As you prep your home for entertaining during the holidays and for holiday baking, you can count on Best Buy’s service to find you the right LG appliances at an unbeatable price.
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