I’ve jumped on the lockdown baking bandwagon (starting with these delicious scones) along with the rest of the nation, and have picked up some baking hacks that actually make a big difference on the way!
No matter what you’re making, try and remember these baking tips – you can thank me later!
1. Prep the pan before you prep the batter, regardless of what you’re baking.
By this, I mean either grease the pan or line it with greaseproof paper. It’s just one of those annoying things you need to do and it’s easier to do this in advance – especially if you’re using your hands to make the dough. You don’t want to wash your hands to line the tray and then get them dirty again.
2. Refrigerate your mixing bowl in advance to make whipped cream extra fluffy.
If you pop the mixing bowl in the fridge for around 30 minutes before beating the cream, it’ll be much more stable and fluffy than if you had used a room-temperature bowl.
3. Making a layer cake? Flip the top layer upside-down to get a perfectly flat and even top.
This will really help with frosting application, making it look perfect. Instead of trimming your top cake, you can just flip it for an easy and perfectly smooth result.
4. Secure your cake to your dish or stand with a dollop of frosting underneath so it stays in place.
This also helps when decorating your cake. If you want a smooth frosting application, you’ll need both a steady hand and a steady cake. This little trick will help ensure your cake doesn’t move at all during the process.
5. Freeze your cookie dough for at least 30 minutes before baking.
Achieving ~cookie perfection~ is one of the greatest challenges in baking so this hack will massively improve the flavour and texture of your cookies – ensuring they are crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside. You can even leave them in the freezer for longer ie a few weeks – if you want to double up on the batter and bake a handful at a time.
6. When a recipe calls for room temperature butter, actually use room temperature butter.
The temperature of your ingredients actually matters. It’s incredibly difficult to cream cold butter and sugar together. If you’ve forgotten to take your butter out of the fridge in advance and really don’t want to wait a few hours for it to be ready, just warm a bowl in the microwave (or fill it with boiling water for a few seconds to warm it up), then cover your butter with it for a few minutes and it’ll be ready to go.
7. Invest in some kitchen scales..
Baking isn’t like cooking where you can throw ingredients in and hope for the best. Accurate weight measurements can make or break a recipe, so I’d strongly suggest investing in some kitchen scales. You can find some for pretty cheap (£9 on Amazon) and it’ll quickly become your best friend in the kitchen.
8. …and in an oven thermometer.
Getting your oven to the right temperature is crucial when baking. I must admit, I don’t own an oven thermometer yet, but know they’re incredibly useful.. especially if you plan to bake regularly or want to do this professionally.
Even when you preheat your oven, it may not actually be at the temperature you need as all ovens vary slightly. An extra degree/hotter oven can make all the difference between a gooey cookie and a rock hard one The best way to make sure you achieve perfection is by using an oven thermometer, like this one, which only costs £4.99.
9. Speaking of ovens, set your timer to five minutes before baking is supposed to be done.
The last thing you want is dry or overcooked cake or cookies. Since you can never completely trust your oven temperature without a thermometer or even the baking time written on a recipe, keep checking your cake a few minutes before it’s supposed to be done.
10. Prop your piping bags in a glass or mug to easily fill them without making a mess.
I’ve learnt this the hard way – so many many times! Filling a piping bag is one of the most annoying steps in decorating a cake. This trick makes it so much easier. Just place the bag with the nozzle facing downwards in a glass and drop the edges over and you’ll be good to go. If, like me, you find it tricky to fill a piping bag properly, you can cheat and go for a pre-made dessert sauce from Dessert Parlour.