16 tips for becoming a pro baker
When it's cold and wet outside, there's nothing better than spending some time in the warmth of the kitchen and rustling up something wonderful. However, the baked treats we make don't always come out of the oven as we want them to. That's why we've put together the following simple tricks to help you avoid making some of the most common baking errors. So read on to find out how you can become a true baking ninja in the kitchen...
1. Moist cakes
There's nothing worse than biting into an overly dry cake and having to reach straight for your drink to wash it down. To prevent this problem, we recommend drizzling some syrup onto the cake once it has come out of the oven. This trick will also give the cake a more intense flavor.
2. Fixing baking parchment onto the tray
While making cookies, it can be pretty annoying when the baking parchment keeps on rolling up on the tray after you spoon dough onto it. That's why we suggest fixing the baking parchment in place using foldback binder clips.
3. Giving your cookies more taste and better consistency
To give your cookies more taste and a better consistency, the trick is to allow the dough to "mature" first. Before baking, keep the cookie dough in the fridge for one or two days — this should get rid of a lot of the moisture.
4. Nice neat portions and a clean finish
All pro bakers swear by the dough scraper, as it can be used for so many purposes. In addition to cleaning out baking tins, this clever utensil is perfect for portioning out dough and giving your cakes a nice neat finish.
5. Making cakes more chocolatey
Here's a great hack for when you're baking with chocolate. To give your baked delights a more pronounced chocolatey taste, we recommend using cocoa instead of flour on worktop surfaces. You can also replace breadcrumbs with cocoa in greased cake tins.
6. Equally-sized cakes and layers
Confectioners mostly use cake ring molds to give their desserts the right shape. This makes it much easier to create equally-sized cakes and uniform layers. Just make sure that your baking tray is level as the cake batter could escape out from the bottom.
7. Customized chocolate decorations
Though overhead projectors haven't been used for quite some time, their sheets are still practical. For example, they can be particularly helpful when you're creating your own cake decorations. To do so, warm up the chocolate until it is runny. Next, drizzle your design onto the sheet. Once your chocolate decoration has cooled, carefully remove it from the sheet and place it on the cake.
Overhead projector sheets can also be used on the inside of cake ring molds to make it easier to remove the dessert once it is finished. These see-through sheets are also practical when you have desserts with layers.
8. Simple cupcake decorations
As unhealthy as they may be, cupcakes always look so delicious when prepared properly. With Russian piping tips, you'll be able to create those sweet frosting designs without too much trouble.
9. Supports for tiered cakes
For special occasions like weddings and anniversaries, you may be feeling brave enough to prepare a tiered cake. While cake support rods usually do the trick, simple drinking straws provide a cheaper alternative. When used as supports, the straws give your baked masterpiece stability. They're also easy to remove when it's time to cut the cake.
10. Homemade piping bag
11. The perfect temperature
Many ovens show a temperature that's either too high or too low — you simply cannot rely on the gage. As this can have an effect on the bake, we recommend using a baking thermometer so that you can adjust the oven's temperature as and when needed.
12. Preventing air pockets from forming in the cake
Here's a simple yet effective trick for preventing air pockets from forming in your cakes. After you've poured the batter into the cake tin, bang it against the worktop and swirl it around several times. This will get rid of the air pockets and spread the batter out evenly.
13. The best baking results
For the best results, always preheat your oven without anything inside it. If the cold batter meets a hot tray, it will end up being either very hard, crusty or too soft depending on the type of batter used. When you're baking cookies in lots of batches, it's best to use several baking trays so that the raw cookie dough isn't placed on a hot tray.
14. Learning recipes by heart
Even experienced bakers rarely know recipes inside and out. However, they are able to recognize mixing ratios and use them to work more quickly. For example, you can use the 3-2-1 mixing ratio (three parts flour, two parts butter, one part sugar) to make shortbread.
15. Smoothing out frosting
If you heat up your utensils — such as icing spatulas – beforehand, you'll attain much better results. Pro bakers do so using a blow torch. However, you can create the same effect by dipping the utensil in hot water for several seconds. Just be careful not to heat up the handle though!
16. Nice and dry
Keep Silica gel packs with your freshly baked cookies in an air-tight container. To prevent the gel packs from making contact with the cookies, place them on the bottom of the container and cover them with several sheets of baking parchment before putting your baked goods inside. This will stop the cookies from becoming too moist.
With these tips in mind, you're now equipped to take on a big batch of cookies, birthday cakes for friends or even a multi-tiered dessert. To become a true baking pro, it's best to give these tricks a try as often as you can. As with any skill, practice makes perfect!