If you follow my IG, you probably saw my 10 days of baking tips. I had no idea that you all would love them so much! Because you may not have caught all of them or just want to be able to reference them sometime down the road, this post has ’em all!
I called this session “Baking Bootcamp #1” because I plan to share more helpful tips with you all in the future. I want you to become a better baker, I want you to challenge yourself in the kitchen… Knowing helpful tips and essential skills can most certainly help you do that.
These tips are pretty basic and general, but if there is ever a topic or skill you would like some specific tips about, please let me know. A lot of these things are second nature to me, and I forget that not everyone has a baking brain like mine.
So here you have it, my 10 basic baking tips for our first session of #fafbakingbootcamp!
1. COOKIE SCOOPS
If you don’t have one, GET ONE. This one is considered a “medium” and holds about 1.5 Tablespoons of cookie dough. I always use it to measure my dough before rolling into a ball. It also holds the PERFECT amount of batter for mini-cupcakes. Using a cookie scoop ensures even baking and uniform results!
2. ICE CREAM SCOOP
A SCANT ice cream scoop full (scant = just a little less) of cupcake batter is the perfect amount for a standard cupcake liner. And the trigger makes for clean and easy dispensing of batter!
3. DRY vs LIQUID MEASURING CUPS
Is there a difference between dry and liquid measuring cups? Why yes, there is! Dry are meant to be filled and leveled off, and liquid are meant to be poured into, read at eye level, and dispensed. If you missed my post on measuring properly, catch it in its entirety here!
4. UNSALTED vs SALTED BUTTER
Always always always UNSALTED butter. Why? Because not only can you control the salt content in your recipe, you have NO idea how much salt will be in any given stick of butter, especially because salt content can vary from brand to brand. To be safe… Always unsalted!
5. FLOUR SHAKER
This baking tip should come in handy if you are making roll-out cookies or a yeast bread. A flour shaker with a handle and a fine screen is your best friend when you need a lightly floured surface. Even distribution is key!
6. RESPECT THE COMMA
When it comes to ingredients in a recipe, “1/2 cup chopped walnuts” is not the same as “1/2 cup walnuts, chopped.” The first requires chopping then measuring. The second requires measuring and THEN chopping. The same goes for “1 cup sifted flour” and “1 cup flour, sifted.” RESPECT THE COMMA (in non-recipe related grammar too, but that’s a whole different soapbox)!
When rolling dough for cut out cookies (like gingerbread men), use wooden dowels to ensure your cookies are all the same thickness. Two 1/4″ dowels set on either side of your dough allow your rolling pin to keep everything even.
Is your oven accurate? An oven thermometer will help you determine that. Here, our oven is set to 350ºF, telling me it’s ready, but it’s only registering about 290ºF. I almost always wait another 10 minutes before I pop something in there! Baking temperature is critical when it comes to the success or failure of a recipe. And temps can vary from rack to rack. BUY ONE. This was only $6 at the grocery store!
Creaming butter and sugar is not a step that people who write recipes (me!) say just for fun. Incorporating sugar into your butter like this allows the sugar to be uniformly dispersed throughout your batter. Not only that, but the process incorporates air to your batter which brings lift/rise and fluffiness to your baked goods. Butter and sugar are fully creamed when the mixture is about double in size and pale yellow. My mixer does this in about 3 minutes, but it can take up to 5 or 6 with larger quantities or a less powerful mixer!
This baking tip is more a public service announcement… Please, please, please… READ YOUR RECIPE BEFORE YOU BEGIN BAKING! This ensures you know what you need, when you need it, how you need it, and if there’s anything that might trip you up. I cannot stress this enough. Do yourself a favor and set yourself up for as much success as possible!