Baking Made Easy
By Rebecca Sullivan
Baking is my favourite thing to do when I have a spare minute. It helps me to de-stress and relax. Really I love baking because I figured out young that the way to almost anyone's heart is through the perfectly baked cookie.
Everyone has their preference when it comes to cookies. Chewy or soft, crunchy and crispy. It can be a matter of seconds before they go from one to the other, so these tips and tricks will hopefully help you to bake your perfect cookie.
A mistake I have made on more than once occasion is not having my oven at the right temperature based on the oven I was using at the time. It is so important to know your oven and it may take time for that to happen. There is a reason that a recipe calls for fan forced or not. Certain products are too delicate for the fan and some need it. It is important to always find out which one to use, fan or not. As oven temperatures can vary, while you are getting to know yours use a thermometer to know that your oven is exactly at the temperature you need.
Just as important as the oven is the equipment. If the recipe calls for a non-stick tray then use one. I would absolutely recommend having a basic set of the essentials if baking is your thing. A great baking tray can mean the difference between the perfect cookie and a burnt one. A good tray conducts the heat evenly. The same stands for a cake pan. Recipes ask for specific measurements of trays and pans because it can sometimes be the difference between a flat cake and a lovely risen one. So try to use the right one to avoid a pancake. Just remember larger pans need increased heat and smaller deeper pans need less heat.
Just like your equipment, you need to ensure you have the best quality ingredients too. Dry ingredients do expire so make sure you check the dates often and don't risk it with things like baking powders, baking sodas and pectins as it may be the difference between a scone that rises and one that does not. Eggs in particular are sensitive and should always be used at room temperature. Butter should also always be room temperature otherwise it won't cream properly when beaten. Nuts go rancid so always taste one first if in doubt of their freshness. Sugar in the case of cookies should not be substituted as it will change the amount they spread.
Even those of you who don't use recipes to make your evening fare cannot avoid them when it comes to baking. Exact measurements are necessary. So to avoid failure, read your recipes thoroughly before you commence your baking. I never used to do this but now I swear by measuring everything out first. Set yourself us with a clean space and be sure to check whether your recipe is metric or not and that your equipment is suitable.
Your cookies can keep cooking out of the oven on an evenly heat conducted tray. If you like a chewy cookie, take them out of the oven a minute sooner than the recipe states. Leave them on the tray to cool slightly as this will avoid them crumbling. This timing may take some practice but you will be able to perfect your ultimate cookie.
Recap Top Tips:
- Check your oven temperature - get yourself a thermometer
- Have the right equipment on hand including non-stick baking trays
- Get yourself a set of essentials for baking - you'll be glad you did
- Check your ingredients are not past their use by dates (including baking powder and flours)
- Always use eggs at room temperature for best results
- Always use butter at room temperature for absolute creaminess
- Keep nuts in the freezer to avoid them going rancid
- Use exact measurements for baking
- Enjoy your wares!
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