Whether trying out a family recipe or trying to make healthy food at home, lots of people are firing up their ovens and getting into baking. Baking isn’t always as easy as it seems, so how can you up your game in the kitchen?
Baking has to be precise. Your measurements have to be just right so that the correct chemical reactions happen at the right temperatures.
While you can get creative with modifying recipes or decorating your creations, recipes need to be followed to the letter. There are, however, tips and tricks to take the stress out of baking and make your meals taste even better.
We’ve got eight great baking secrets the professionals don’t want you to know. Keep reading and you never know — you might want to turn pro by the end of this article!
1. Get Better with Butter
Butter is a superstar in the kitchen and your best friend while baking. There are tons of recipes that call for it but are you using it the right way?
First, make sure you always go for high quality butter. The added flavor makes up for the extra cost.
Next, check to see if your recipe calls for salted or unsalted butter. Not all butter works in every dish and you’ll be able to taste the difference.
Last, butter temperature affects the outcome. Pie crusts made with cold butter versus melted butter produce different results.
If you use a grater to grate cold butter, make clean up easy by scrubbing it with a half a lemon. Get cold butter to room temperature quickly by heating a glass of water in the microwave, pouring out the water, and then putting the glass over your stick of butter.
2. Stay Cool
Ever wonder how professional bakers cut cakes into so many cute shapes? Their frosting always looks flawless while other attempts are always full of crumbs and patchy.
The secret is to cool it with your cakes. Don’t just wait until your cake is room temperature to frost it, get it into the fridge or freezer.
To improve your frosting technique, let it cool to room temperature and then leave it in the fridge for a while. Your icing won’t have as many crumbs and will go on easier.
For more complicated techniques, wrap your room temperature cake in plastic wrap and pop it in the freezer for an hour. This is one of the best baking tricks to cut cakes into different shapes.
3. Perfect Parchment Paper
Parchment paper is the multitasker your kitchen needs. Don’t skimp on lining any baking pan or tray with parchment paper to ensure that they come out clean and your cookies are evenly spaced out.
Save yourself the trouble of cleaning up baked on, greasy messes. Ensure your brownies, cakes, and cookies lift out of every pan by lining them with parchment.
Bonus kitchen tip: place a few parchment sheets on top of your highest kitchen cabinets. That way you only have to replace the sheets every once in a while instead of worrying about dusting.
4. The Right Baking Equipment
If you’re really serious about getting into baking, investing in high quality baking pans and equipment is a smart idea. The thing is, there’s no reason to spend a lot of money on a bunch of high-tech devices or fancy name brand pans. Ann Clark Cookie Cutters, for example, are inexpensive and bring a nice shape to your cookie creations!
Invest in pieces that you’ll use over and over again. Standard pans, like casserole dishes, pie pans, or muffin tins, are staples of every professional kitchen.
As far as gadgets go, think about the ones you’re more likely to use over and over again. An expensive stand mixer might get a lot of use, but something specific like a milk frother might only be used a few times and then just take up space in your kitchen.
5. Making Substitutions
There aren’t a lot of shortcuts that work out well in the long run. That goes double for baking where the best way to bake like a professional is to follow the recipe carefully.
That being said, there are a few substitutions that might work in certain circumstances. Try them out once you get comfortable with your recipes.
For example, you can sometimes substitute oils, butter, or eggs in cake recipes with applesauce or ice water. When working with sugar substitutes, make sure your measurements are accurate and the equivalent to regular sugar.
6. Sugar and Salt
Let’s face it — a lot of the food we get in restaurants or bakeries isn’t always as healthy as homemade. These baked goods taste better because they’re given an extra kick of sugar, salt, fat, or other tasty ingredients.
Take your own baked goods to the next level by adding a finishing touch of sugar or salt, but don’t go overboard. A nice sprinkle of raw sugar over the tops of your loaf cake or muffins before you pop them in the oven will make add a crunchy, sweet finish.
7. Don’t Peek!
Of course you’re excited to see your finished creation. However, they’ll be done when they’re done — and not a minute sooner.
Resist the temptation to peek inside the oven to see how your baked goods are coming along. Opening the door adds a waft of cold air that affects how your cakes and cookies turn out.
8. Safety First
One thing professional bakers know for sure is that playing with fire is fun until someone gets hurt. Your kitchen can have a beautiful fridge, all of the best pans, and tons of gadgets but it needs a first aid kit most of all.
Learn from the pros and always have safety equipment nearby. Keep a fire extinguisher handy, learn how to use it, and make sure that it’s always filled and up to date to avoid any unfortunately accidents.
More Baking Secrets You Need to Know
These are just a few of the baking secrets you need to take your kitchen skills to the next level. Try them out to see which ones work best for you.
Looking for more ways to improve your skills? Check out our other baking articles to learn more hacks, tips, and tricks!