So, you want to bake a cake. Sounds easy enough, right? Well in essence it is. You can do either two things, open a box of Duncan Hines cake mix, or make a cake that will blow your socks off, by baking it from scratch.
You’ve decided on making an ooey-gooey Devils Food cake. You find the most perfect recipe, follow the directions (sort of), and your cake turns out to be just okay.
You may be wondering what you’re doing wrong. I mean, how difficult is it to dump a bunch of ingredients in a bowl and mix it?
Although, it’s not difficult, baking, unlike cooking, is a science. If you mess up on one little thing, it could ruin your baked good.
Now, don’t let this put a damper on you, because I know from experience, that even someone who is a complete utter disaster in the kitchen can bake the most scrumptious baked goods.
Today, I plan to help you go from a baker that’s, meh; to one that will rival a professional baker. Okay, maybe not exactly that, but you get where I’m coming from.
Tools To Get The Job Done
When it comes to baking, there are some items that are specific to the type of baked goods you’re making, but for the most part, you can use cooking tools you may already have in your kitchen.
How To Use A Recipe
The key to being a success when it comes to baking is to determine if that particular recipe requires specific equipment, the time that’s required, and how many servings the recipe will yield. If you have a small family, you may need to adjust the measurements within the recipe ingredients.
If the recipe has different variations and tips, you’ll want to read and familiarize yourself with those just in case you’re going to need to substitute one ingredient for another.
Need to substitute an ingredient?
How To Use Ingredient Substitutions In The Kitchen
Run out of an ingredient while cooking? Ingredient substitutions will save the day.
Before you start the baking process, review the instructions and have all your ingredients measured out and placed in small pinch bowls. Believe me, this will make the entire process so much easier.
How To Prep A Pan
Wouldn’t it be easy if you could just drop your batter into a pan and then place it in the oven? Yes, it would; however, by not prepping a baking pan before adding your batter, odds are in your favor your results will not come out the way you expected.
Have you ever baked a lopsided cake? If so, you probably didn’t prep your pan properly.
1. One of the most important aspects of prepping a baking pan is to choose one that’s the right size for the job. Every baking recipe should mention the size and type of pan required in the instructions, so make sure you reviewed the recipe prior to starting.
2. Check the integrity of your baking pan. If there are residual particles of dried batter (no judgment here), dents, and/or rust, you’ll want to make sure you line the pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
3. If your baking pan is clean, you may decide not to use parchment paper or a silicone mat. In that case, you’ll want to coat your pan with either a thin layer of butter or oil, with either a pastry brush or a clean paper towel.
If you decide not to use either option and opt to use cooking spray. If you’re using cooking spray, do not use the type with olive oil in it. Yuck!
The Right Way How To Measure Ingredients
Measuring your baking ingredients correctly will make or break your recipe. As mentioned before, baking is a science. You can fudge around with measuring if you’re cooking, but it’s not a great idea to do that when it comes to baking.
Measuring Cups, and spoons, oh my!
Measuring cups serve two types of purposes. One is to measure wet ingredients and one is to measure dry. Okay, that’s great, now how do you know which one to use?
Tips & Tricks
- When measuring dry ingredients, use a spoon to fill your measuring cup with the ingredient you need to measure. To make sure you have the correct amount, use the back of a knife (make sure it has a straight edge), and scrape it across the top of the measuring cup to ensure the dry ingredient is level.
- When measuring something sticky, like honey or molasses, lightly spray the measuring cup or spoon with a thin layer of oil before measuring. This will help it slide out effortlessly.
Liquid measuring cups typically hold anywhere from 1-4 cups in capacity and are made of clear plastic or glass. A liquid measuring cup has volume increments marked on the side of the glass and usually has a spout to make pouring the ingredients easier.
Dry measuring cups are more specific when it comes to sizing and theft typically come in sets ranging anywhere from ⅛ teaspoon to 1 cup.
Measuring spoons can measure both liquid and dry ingredients.
How To Successful Mix Baking Ingredients
When it comes to baking mixing holds different terms for different techniques. The more experienced you become as a baker, you’ll intuitively know which techniques are best for what you’re baking.
In essence, folding means adding an ingredient in a circular, up-and-down motion while gently combining the ingredients. Folding is different from stirring. When you stir, you’re a little more forceful, whereas, with folding, your movements are slow and gentle.
The best tool for folding would be a rubber spatula.
When you’re cutting in, you’ll need to use either a fork, pastry cutter, or even your fingers (just make sure they’re clean), to add cold butter to flour, without softening the butter in any way.
If you do this process correctly, you will notice your flour looks like small pebbles.
When you think about mixing ingredients together when it comes to baking, creaming is probably the one method that pops into your head the most.
Creaming typically involves either a hand mixer, electric mixer, or a bowl and spoon; depending on which method you enjoy the most.
The creaming process typically takes around 3 minutes, if you’re blending in butter. Once done the ingredients should become light and fluffy.
Whipping is basically, whisking air into your mixture. You can accomplish this by using a whisk attachment from an electric mixer or by manually whisking using a wire whisk.
When it comes to baking stirring has the same meaning as it does in cooking. you’ll want to constantly mix your ingredients until it reaches the desired consistency. You can mix using any utensil.
The Secrets Of Melting Chocolate
Although melting typically consists of melting butter, if you’re going to be baking with chocolate, odds are your recipe will call for melted chocolate. Melting chocolate is very easy (and yummy if you lick the spoon before washing your pot).
It’s not necessary to purchase a double boiler to melt chocolate. A cost-efficient way to melt chocolate is to place a glass bowl over a saucepan filled with boiling water.
If you go with this option, please make sure your glass bowl fits securely over the pot holding the boiling water. The bowl should fit over the pot so it doesn’t touch the water. Once the water is hot, remove the pot from the stovetop element, you can add either the butter or chocolate to the bowl. The heat from the water will melt the butter or chocolate. While it’s melting, be sure to stir your ingredient as it melts.
You may opt to melt your chocolate in the microwave, and that’s perfectly fine.
- Use a microwave-safe bowl that’s about twice the size of the amount of chocolate you’re planning on melting.
- Cut the chocolate into equal-size chunks ad place them into the bowl.
- Set your microwave to high and set the timer for 30 seconds. If the chocolate hasn’t melted, whisk and place it back in the microwave for an additional 15 seconds. If it’s still not melted, repeat these steps.
You should never feel intimidated when it comes to baking. Not only is baking fun, but when you’re done, you get to sit down and enjoy eating what you created. Heck, you can’t say that about a scarf you crocheted.
As a beginner baker, I’d love to know what was the last thing you baked, and how did it turn out. Share with a comment below.