- Towel It:
Grease baking pans using a paper towel. Rub a little bit of shortening or butter along with all areas of the pan (if the recipe calls for a greased pan).
- Baking Utensils:
Make sure you have both liquid and dry measuring spoons and cups, and the specified pan sizes. Recipes require a standard dry measuring cup for dry ingredients, which include flours, cocoa powder, granulated (brown and regular) sugar, cornmeal, and powdered sugars.
- Tricks Of The Shell:
Fingers aren’t good for retrieving eggshells. When eggshell pieces fall in the batter or mixture, use the empty half-shell to scoop them out.
- Rack Rules:
Wondering which oven rack to use? The middle rack is the best choice for baking unless otherwise specified.
- Pie Preparation:
If baking more than one pie, lower your oven temperature.If the 2 pies are different, use the lowest oven temperature of the two recipes. Bake on separate baking sheets.
- Don’t Go Changing:
When baking, don’t change the recipe. Cooking can be modified, but baking is an exact science.
- Only the Best:
You get out what you put in. Use the freshest dairy, fruits, and spices to give the best baking results.
- Beating Basics:
Don’t over-beat or under-beat your cake batter or you risk changing the cake’s texture or volume. One minute of mixer beating time is the same as 150 strokes by hand.
- Best Eggs:
Unless a baking recipe calls for a specific size of eggs, choose medium to large. Large eggs can cause cakes to fall while cooling.
- Shine On :
Shiny aluminum pans reflect heat away. When baking cakes this will result in a soft, golden crust.
- Chocolaty Dust:
When a recipe calls for dusting the tins with flour, try something tastier instead – use a little of the dry cake mix or sifted cocoa powder.
- Cracking Up:
Does your cake crack when baking? This means your oven is too hot or the rack is placed too high in the oven.
- Baking Powder Basics:
Did you know baking powder loses its strength? Test yours – pour hot water into a small bowl and add 1 teaspoon of your baking powder. It should fizz like crazy. If it doesn’t, it needs to be replaced.
- Butter Means Butter:
Butter, margarine, and shortening are often not interchangeable in recipes. The fats are different and may change the result of the recipe.
- Extract Or Flavoring:
What’s the difference? Extracts are required to contain the natural flavor. Flavorings and imitations may be made artificially.
- Cold Concoctions:
When using extracts for cooking, add them when your mixture is cold. If added when the mixture is hot, some flavor may be lost due to evaporation.
- Pack It In:
Brown sugar should be measured by packing it in a dry-cup measure, whether specified or not. With brown sugar, packing is always assumed.
- Trade-Off Cakes:
Missing the right size cake pan? Two 8-inch square baking pans will work instead of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
- No Peeking:
Don’t open the oven door while your desserts are baking. Each peek lets out 20% or more of the heat.
- Repurposed Tools:
A chopstick or broken kitchen tool handle can be stored in the flour container as a measuring cup level. This prevents dirtying another utensil each time.
- Cool Off:
Run out of cooling rack space for pies? Use an upside-down muffin pan as an extra cooling rack. The middle space between molds allows free airflow.
- Parchment Pointer:
When rolling piecrust, place dough between 2 sheets of parchment or waxed paper. This avoids the flour mess and makes for a more tender crust.
- True Trifecta:
Chocolate, vanilla, and salt are made for each other. Use vanilla to give the chocolate a smooth taste, and salt to enhance the chocolate taste and balance the natural sweetness.
- Muffin Mastery:
If you want your muffins to slide from the pan without sticking, place the hot pan on a wet towel first. They should slide right out.
- Take The Cake:
For parties, don’t pre-slice your cake more than 20 minutes ahead or the cake will dry out.
- Embrace The Brown:
When bananas turn brown, don’t toss them out. Peel and freeze them to use in banana bread later.
- Bounty Of Berries:
Buy berries in season at a cheaper price. Freeze them on a cookie sheet and then place them in zippered freezer bags. You’ll have perfectly frozen individual berries rather than a mushy mess.
- Soaking For Success:
If raisins are called for in a recipe, try plumping them first. Measure the number of raisins required by the recipe, cover with very hot water (not boiling) and allow them to soak and plump for 2 to 5 minutes.
- Rockin’ Raisins:
Try soaking raisins in cola instead of water. Cola plumps them up and adds a delicious spiciness.
- Raisin Ratio:
Raisins often sink to the bottom of the cake batter. When adding raisins to the batter, stir only 1/4 of the recipe amount into the batter. Pour the batter into your pan and top it with the reserved raisins.
- Floating Fruit:
When making blueberry muffins, toss fresh blueberries with a tablespoon of flour to keep them from sinking to the bottom. The flour helps them stick to the batter.