Every day in January I am sharing one of my best Tips for Better Baking. These are tips that have made my kitchen life easier and helped me become a better baker. Follow along on Facebook or check back here each Sunday for a roundup of the week’s tips.
If you’re just joining us, be sure to start here with the Tips for Better Baking – Week One Roundup.
Tips for Better Baking #5 – Know Your Oven
All ovens have personalities of their own. Some run hot, some never reach the set temperature, and almost all ovens have hot spots where food cooks and browns quicker. To become a better baker, you’ve got to get friendly with your oven. Buy an external oven thermometer and get to know your oven’s quirks. You will want to adjust your baking accordingly and you may consider getting your oven serviced if the fluctuations are severe.
Tips for Better Baking #6 – How to Manage a Sticky Dough
There’s nothing more frustrating then working with a sticky dough. Dough sticks to dough so if you get just a bit stuck to your hands, you are in for a mess. Soon enough it will be on the cupboard doors, the refrigerator, and all over the sink faucet. Trust me, I know from experience. Before working with any dough, wet your hands with water or spray them with cooking spray to keep them clean and mess-free. The water or oil will create a protective layer that prevents the dough from sticking to your hands.
Tips for Better Baking #7 – The Easiest Way to Separate Eggs
Most of us learned to separate eggs by transferring the yolk back and forth between the broken shell halves. While this method works, using your hands is easier and more efficient. When you transfer the yolk back and forth, you risk tearing it on the eggshell or having shards of shell fall into your bowl. Instead, simply crack the egg into your hand, let the whites fall through, and dump the yolk into a separate bowl. I’ve had a few people complain that handling raw eggs is ‘gross’ but I think you can get over that pretty quickly.
Tips for Better Baking #8 – Always Toast Nuts
If you want the best, most flavorful baked goods then take the time to toast any nuts you are using. It may seem silly to toast nuts on their own before baking them as part of a recipe, but it’s necessary. When nuts are baked with other ingredients, they often don’t get hot enough to toast and release their essential oils, the flavor and fragrance agents. If they are baking with liquids, they won’t get crispy and you will miss out on a wonderful textural element. I recommend toasting nuts in an oven, as opposed to in a sauté pan where they often don’t toast all the way through before starting to burn.
Tips for Better Baking #9 – The Best Way to Crack Eggs
Similar to separating eggs, the way we first learned to crack eggs isn’t always the best way. I grew up cracking eggs on the side of the mixing bowl, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned that cracking them on the counter is a better method. The flat surface of the counter provides a more even break and reduces the chance of getting small bits of egg shell in your bowl.
Tips for Better Baking #10 – Less is More When Decorating
This is probably the only instance involving baking where you will hear me declare that less is more. But when it comes to decorating, I really believe that simple is better. Finishing a cake with just a chocolate ganache glaze is stunning and still delicious. Just remember, you can always add more, but once you do, it’s usually impossible to take it away.
Tip for Better Baking #11 – Don’t Forget Salt!
To quote Alton Brown, “salt makes food taste more like itself,” and this is true in baking too. Adding a little bit of salt to your recipes will bring out the flavors of the ingredients and make your baked goods more balanced and delicious. Think about it, there’s a reason salted caramel is so popular. Most good baking recipes will call for salt, but if you’re making a cookies or a pie crust dough don’t be afraid to throw a pinch into your mixing bowl. In my opinion, the best chocolate chip cookies are finished with a little bit of flaky sea salt on top.
What are your best tips for better baking? Do you have any baking problems that you would like to fix? Comment below or get in touch via social media. Happy Baking!