Hello Friends! I posted my original post “Professional Tips for Professional Baking” a few weeks ago and the response has been…whew. But “whew” in a great way! Y’all are baking nerds like me AND I DIG IT.
So I’m back with Part Deux! Because There are literally so many tips and I could never really run out of them.
Sit Down and Read the Recipe. The WHOLE THING.
Recipe Skimmers, hear me out:
When you just skim the first part of a recipe before diving in fully, you are setting yourself up for failure.
When you look at the recipe picture and start taking out boxes and cans of ingredients before reading anything else, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Unless the goal is to be frazzled and frustrated while you bake. (That should never, ever be the goal by the way)
Want to be calm in the kitchen? Have fun with your bake?
Take ten minutes before you start and read that entire recipe from start to finish. Grab a cup of coffee, tea, orange juice, or even a mimosa (this is a judgment-free zone) and sit down with just the recipe. Don’t take out an ingredient or a single piece of equipment. You have a date with a piece of paper first.
Because reading the whole recipe will let you know if there are any tricky steps that you have to account for. It will let you know if you have all of the ingredients (or if a trip to the store is imminent). It will let you know if you were supposed to start this recipe a day ahead (like my Carrot Cake Pound Cake or my Snickerdoodle Cookie recipes).
Reading the whole recipe sets you up to have a good, calm bake. You want that!
Time is an Ingredient
I’ve said recently that “time is an ingredient”. This is something that my mother taught me when she was teaching me to cook. And it’s as profound today as it was back then.
You see, you cannot rush the baking process. The time that it takes to cream butter and sugar is just…the time it takes. The baking process won’t get any faster if you compulsively open the oven door or pump up the temperature while your cookies are in the oven (indeed, those are two very good ways to ruin something).
To become an incredible baker, you have to start thinking about time as an ingredient of its own. Time can make or break a recipe. An abundance of time can help you work through a tricky recipe. Too little time will stress you to the end of your wits, even for simple things like my Southern Rice Pudding.
That’s why you won’t ever catch me on a baking competition show. I’d be without one of my favorite ingredients: time.
Focus on the Small Stuff-Techniques Will Make or Break You
Hi! Broken Record Shani here.
A great recipe means nothing if it’s not coupled with incredible techniques. The true secret to great baking is to practice the techniques. And to do so repetitively.
Technique is a kind of language, Friends. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. You must practice in order to develop proficiency. And then keep practicing.
Once you know how and why to practice a certain technique a certain way, you’ll revert to muscle memory every time you have to do it.
A perfect example is in creaming butter and sugar.
Creaming butter and sugar is such a fundamental part of baking; it’s the process whereby you force air into your your batter or dough. You cream butter and sugar to help create lighter baked goods.
It’s not just for show, and it’s not a technique to just gloss over. But it took me a full year to take this simple technique seriously.
Now I obsess about it. It’s crucial to me to have perfectly creamed butter and sugar every time, else I risk having cakes and cookies that don’t reach their full potential.
We’re all about reaching full potential over here. Because who wants dense cake?
Don’t Substitute Unless You Know Baking Science
Friends, I field questions all the time about baking substitutions.
Here is my answer.
Please don’t substitute ingredients unless you understand how those ingredients impact your recipe. Baking science is real and it will really jack you up if you’re not careful.
Because sugar does more than make things sweet. Eggs, liquid, and even flour are multi-tools that have the ability to make or break a recipe.
Also, to properly substitute one ingredient, you usually have to change other ingredients to get the intended result from the recipe. So, that “one” ingredient you’re trying to swap could end up requiring changes to five other ingredients. #TheMoreYouKnow
If you know baking science, and how ingredients work together in a recipe, then this is not as much of a concern. When you sit down to read the recipe from start to finish (*ahem*, step one), you’ll be able to identify what you want to swap and what else needs to change in order for the recipe to be successful.
Because if you don’t?
::insert deflating balloon GIF here::
Want to proceed with more confidence when you swap ingredients? Check out Creative Cakes (And More!)! In that cohort, not only will you learn how to create your own cake recipes, you’ll learn how to swap ingredients successfully to make the cakes of your dreams!
Friends, I’m growing to love this series! Let me know if you’d like a Part Trois!
Though I love baking, I don’t actually get better results with cakes. Following your tips, I will try to make one again this sunday! And hope this time I’ll bake the best!
I’m so glad to help! I would love to hear how it goes this weekend!