In cooking, it’s so easy to go off the recipe and add in extra ingredients to make to tasty, am I right? Well, when it comes to baking, we need to follow the rules, I know, I know, so boring right? Who needs rules?! However, rules need to be followed when it comes to baking. Especially if you want a successful end product. This post will be lengthy, but please bear with me, it’ll be worth it, I swear!
You would be surprised that not a lot of people take the time to do this. Reading your recipe thoroughly will give you an idea of how to prep and cook the dish beforehand, and prepping all your ingredients will just make the process of cooking go by quicker.
This is a step that you should not ignore. If you are making something that won’t have flaky texture, then you absolutely want your ingredients to be at room temperature. You will get a much better texture, and it will be absorbed quicker. This will result in a more cohesive mixture. The usual ingredients that would need to be at room temp, would be butter, milk, water, or eggs. (In this case, this is a plant-based blog, so we don’t use eggs or dairy) The best way to bring ingredients to room temperature is to plan ahead.
For baked goods with a flaky texture, like pie crusts, tart shells, biscuits, scones, puff pastry, croissants and other laminated dough, you want the ingredients really cold. It’s important that fat stays solid before the baked goods go into the oven. Small pieces of butter are spread out throughout the dough. As it bakes, it will melt in the oven creating pockets, which creates flakiness.
Before measuring out your flour, I suggest fluffing it up before you measure it out from the container/bag. Over time it tends to settle and become densely packed, and most of the time you will be adding more flour than you think. So FLUFF IT UP.
This goes along with fluffing up with your flour, sifting adds air to your flour which helps produce lighter cakes and more uniform pastries. Fluffed & sifted flour generally weighs 20-25 percent less than flour that has settled. It is also a good idea to sift flour along with other dry ingredients, such as salt, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and other powder or flour substances. Nobody wants to bite a clump salt or baking soda, it definitely won’t taste good!
If you do not use a food scale to measure out your ingredients, I highly suggest you do, but I do understand that measuring cups and spoons are more accessible.
If you really want to be accurate with your measurements, the best way to go is to weigh your ingredients. Unlike cooking, where you can be flexible with the amount of ingredients, baking measurements needs to be precise. Even with the tips I have above, it’s still not guaranteed that you are measuring precisely. Another thing, while the US metric system uses volume and ounces, European recipes will always use grams. So if you find a European recipe that you want to try, you would then need to weigh your ingredients. You’ll always get consistent results every time. So I suggest investing a food scale! For my recipes, I will provide both methods of measurements, so do not worry!
I think this is one of the common mistakes that people make when people start baking. When your batter or dough is baking there is a chance that it can stick to the pan. So before you bake, generously grease your pan. Don’t skimp out on it, when I mean generously, I mean it. You can use oil or butter to grease your pan. You can also add either flour or parchment paper to ensure that it absolutely doesn’t stick.
I know, it’s tempting to keep opening the oven door to check on how your baked goods is coming along. However, some recipes need consistent heat. Every time you open your oven the temperature can drop to 150° Fahrenheit or more if it is left open for thirty seconds.
Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t open your oven at all. At least allow your recipe to bake for the amount of time it needs. When the time is up, is when you should check. Unless it starts smelling like it’s burning (but let’s not get it that far). So, in short, don’t open the oven in the middle of baking unless it’s stated in the recipe.
Now there will be a couple of recipes where it suggests you to rotate the pan half way, which is okay because there are hot spots in some ovens. Rotating the oven will just make sure it will get an even bake all around. But overall, let’s just try and be patient and don’t open the oven!
It really matters that you take 15-20 minutes, depending on your stove, to preheat the temperature that is stated in the recipe. It’s always the first thing you should do when you’re baking, unless the recipe is takes a longer process (ex. 3 days to prep). Preheating the oven ensures that your oven is at the right temp when you are ready to bake.