Baking is an enjoyable endeavor, but it can also get tricky, especially if you’re a novice with the oven. However, it’s not impossible to make something at home that looks and tastes like the work of a professional. Even if you’re new to baking, there’s a lot you can do to up your game in the kitchen.
While the best bakers know how to get creative, it’s still important that you pay careful attention to the basics. Just the slightest change in how you handle your ingredients or tools can affect how well your baked goods turn out — or even ruin them. But success is within your reach if you master some simple techniques. Instead of stressing over your next attempt at dessert, make things easier for yourself with these ingenious hacks for the amateur baker.
Make sure your ingredients are at the proper temperature
Baking is a science, and chemical reactions can be greatly affected by temperature. If your recipe calls for your ingredients to be warm, cool, chilled or room temperature, make sure they are so. When not specified, it’s best to go with room temperature, as ingredients are then easier to mix together for a uniform consistency.
Soften your butter with a rolling pin
Many recipes call for your butter to be at room temperature. For a quicker way to soften a cold stick of butter, place it in a zip-close bag. Using a rolling pin, flatten the butter inside the bag into a thin layer. A rubber spatula will help you scoop the soft butter out.
Flouring your tools will make things go much more smoothly. Dust your work surface in flour to keep the dough from sticking to it, and do the same with rolling pins and other tools. When cutting through the dough with a knife or cookie cutter, the flour will help you cut through faster and neater as well. If the dough you’re working with is chocolate flavored, use cocoa powder instead to keep a richer flavor.
Wet your hands
When working with a sticky substance, particularly dough, wet your hands so that it doesn’t keep sticking to you. This will conserve ingredients, and also make your work less frustrating.
Sift your dry ingredients
Lumps in your ingredients can keep them from being evenly distributed throughout your dough or batter. When using ingredients like sugar, flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder, sift them first before adding them in.
Use cooking spray on your measuring tools
Give any measuring cups or spoons that you’re using a quick spray of cooking oil before you use them. This will make it easier to tip ingredients out of them, particularly those that are stickier, and will keep you from wasting any.