With the New Year upon us, we will all undoubtedly make resolutions and new goals, so I thought this would be the perfect time to learn something new (or a refresher for those experienced bakers)! Welcome to the first post in my Baking Basics series!
Nothing is more frustrating than finding the perfect recipe, buying all of the ingredients, and spending hours in the kitchen, only to have it come out as an epic fail that ends up in the trash. So I’ve picked up a few pointers along my baking journey, and I hope you’ll find these tips helpful the next time you bake!
The following tips are especially useful for baking cakes, but are also a good rule of thumb for other baked goods (cookies, cupcakes, quick-rise breads, etc.), unless the recipe notes otherwise.
1. Room temp. for the win!
Unless the recipe notes otherwise, always make sure your eggs, butter, milk, cream, etc. are at room temperature. Why? Because batters made with room temperature ingredients are more evenly incorporated, resulting in a smoother, more airy texture (i.e. not dense and dry!). Thinking of skipping this step because you’re short on time? Don’t do it! Although it takes a little extra planning on the front end, it will be so worth it to get that perfect texture! But let’s be real, we are short on time all the time, so I’m planning to do a full post on tricks for getting your ingredients to room temperature quicker.
2. Smooth like buttah.
Cake recipes often call for creaming butter and sugar together. It usually takes around 3 to 5 minutes to properly incorporate these two ingredients. Don’t take a shortcut here! Why? Because this is where you incorporate air into the butter, which is important for the texture of the cake. Your butter and sugar mixture should increase in volume (think fluffy) and become very pale. And don’t forget to use your room temperature butter! 🙂
3. Whisk dry ingredients together before incorporating with wet ingredients.
This step will ensure that your flour, salt, spices, baking soda, etc. are incorporated evenly throughout the batter. It also aerates the flour and removes any lumps.
4. Always start and end with adding dry ingredients.
Remember all that time you spent creaming your butter and sugar?! Adding the dry ingredients first and last will ensure that your creamed butter won’t become saturated with too much of the liquid you are adding. When your butter becomes saturated, this can result in a “heavy” cake texture (boo!).
5. Mix it, but don’t mix it real good.
One culprit of tough cake texture could be over-mixing your flour. When incorporating your dry ingredients into a batter, be sure to gently fold it in. What the heck does folding mean!? Using a spatula, drag the dry ingredients through the batter, turning the bowl regularly. If you’re a visual learner like me, check out this video!
Here are a few basic baking items I couldn’t live without:
- KitchenAid Mixer
- Nonstick Bakeware (10-piece set)
- Flour sifter
- Spatula Set
- Mixing Bowls
- Silpat Nonstick Baking Mat
- Measuring Cup & Spoon Set
- Cake Decorating Set
What other tips would be helpful for you in the kitchen?! If you have any requests for a Baking Basics post, please let me know!