Tips for Successful Baking
It is always a good thing to feel confident that each every cake you bake will be moist, and delicious for your family or clients. Here are some things to bear in mind as you prepare to bake.
You want to be sure your oven temperature is accurate. Even a 5 degree variance can make a big difference in your cakes and other goodies. Invest in an oven thermometer , always refer to the thermometer to make sure the oven is completely pre-heated before placing your cakes in the oven and make sure it is actually heated to the temperature your recipe calls for.
Make sure you have prepared your pans according to your recipe. While most recipes will call for you to grease and flour your pan, some have other requirements. Pan grease, baking sprays or cake release can all be substituted for greasing and flouring. This will make your life a little easier! If your recipe calls for greasing the bottom only or not greasing at all, be sure to follow those directions.
While cooking could be considered an art with a dash of this and a splash of that, baking involves careful accuracy in your ingredient measurements.You can use measuring tools and/or a reliable kitchen scale for your ingredients.
A good kitchen scale can be an investment but it is an invaluable tool with so many uses in baking. Weighing ingredients, and weighing batter in your pans, just to name a couple.
There are two basic types of scales:
- Spring-loaded scales with a needle and numbers on it show weight in ounces, pounds and/or grams.
- Digital scales offer the same information, plus a tare option, which will deduct the weight of your pan or bowl if it is placed on the scale, then hitting the tare button before adding ingredients or batter.
Look for a scale with a nice level surface that is designed so that you can see the face when you have a large pan on it. If you choose a digital scale, consider purchasing a power adapter for it so low batteries is never a concern.
Measuring Cups and Spoon.
- Make sure you use dry measuring cups for dry ingredients and liquid measures for wet ones. While the volume is the same (they take up the same amount of space), you can’t level off dry ingredients in a liquid measuring cup.
- Make sure to buy liquid measures that show accurate markings. Cooks Illustrated Magazine named the Wilton liquid measuring cups as one of the brands they found with accurate markings.If you have a kitchen scale, you can check for accuracy of your liquid measure.
- Weight the empty measuring cup. Then add water to the 1 cup mark and weigh again. 1 cup of water should weigh 8.3454 ounces, although most scales won” give this precise a weight. So, let’s say that the weight of one volume cup of water weighs approximately 8 1/3 ounces.
- When you are baking, even a Tablespoon more or less than your recipe calls for can affect your final product – and if we are talking about the leavening or the salt, just imagine how small variances can change things!
If you are using traditional dry measuring cups, you want to always fill your measuring cups in the same way. For example, you can spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level the cup with a straight edge OR you can dip the cup into the ingredients and sweep the cup with a straight edge. If you were to weigh the flour from both these techniques, you would likely find different weights.
- Another factor is, does the recipe say “4 cups of sifted flour” or “4 cups of flour, sifted”? These are 2 different quantities. Flour that is measured straight from the bin is more compacted than flour that has been sifted. Make not of how your recipe reads. Even how long the flour has been sitting in the bag or your flour bin can affect how much flour you end up in your recipe. If working from a cookbook, read the forward in the book and see if your author makes recommendations as to which method to use.
Be sure your eggs are at room temperature if called for, or your butter is softened... Eggs that are cold can change the consistency of your batter. Butter that is cold is almost impossible to cream. Have all ingredients at the temperature called for in your recipe.
This is important, too. Most recipes call for the use of large eggs, but not always! Be sure to use the size your recipe or cookbook dictates. More or less liquid can change batter consistency. Eggs also act to bind your ingredients, hold moisture and affect the richness of your cakes.Once you have assembled your batter, bake for amount of time given in the recipe and test for doneness according to that recipe.
When the cake tests done, remove it from the oven and cool - you guessed it!- according to your recipe! Most cakes will be cooled in the pan for 10 minutes or more, depending on size and then removed from the pan, by placing a cooling rack over top of the cake and then flipping it right-side-up on another cooling rack. There are exceptions, though, so be sure to do as your instructions dictate.
So, in summary, if you have your oven at the correct temperature, measure you ingredients accurately, prepare your pans according to the recipe and assemble the recipe as instructed and bake and cool the cake the same way each and every time you bake, you can dependent on a moist and delicious result each time you bake!