Today, I share some tips from my experiences that will help you and teach you how to be a better baker.
I have come across a number of people, mostly friends and acquaintances who are extremely intimidated by baking. They would not like to even set foot near the perimeter of an oven or touch the spatula. On the contrary, I’ve also met people who absolutely adore the art of pastry making but are terrified with the science that is associated with it. They do make brave attempts and while sometimes their experiments are gloriously successful, other times, they just fall apart.
This is not to say that I’ve always had perfect baking stories to share. I’m just as human as the person standing next to me, and so, I too make mistakes. In the past 2 years of blogging and cooking, baking and continuously experimenting with desserts, I learnt certain things with trial and error that do not affect my baking anymore. Yes, I still do make mistakes and I am learning every day and that is the reason why I decided to write this post where I share my tips and experiences and answer your most basic question – how to be a better baker?
1. Always work with good quality ingredients:
The best way to make your end baked product taste like it has descended form the Heavens is to use only those ingredients that are high quality and good to taste. Using a cheap variant of an ingredient, while technically may not cause any issue, it will make a massive impact on its taste. For instance, try making vanilla cupcakes in two batches – add real vanilla bean extract or paste in the first one and synthetic flavored vanilla essence in the second one. Now taste them or ask your friends to taste one of each and ask them which one they liked better. How to be a better baker? The answer is simple; use good quality ingredients and never ever compromise on the taste.
2. A digital measuring scale is your best friend:
While you may want to wing it by throwing in flour, butter and sugar that look okay to you, you should probably avoid doing that. You need to realize that baking is an exact science and therefore, if you want perfectly fluffy and springy cupcakes or fudgy brownies every single time, measuring out the ingredients correctly is crucial. I usually dislike using cup measurements simply because cup sizes vary vastly worldwide. In some places it may equal 200 grams whereas in other places it may be 250 grams. Therefore, I like using a trusty digital scale as it helps me get an accurate picture of all the ingredients being used.
3. Always preheat your oven:
As a rule of thumb, it is imperative that you begin preheating your oven at least 15 minutes before you bake anything. Something as simple as preheating your oven can have groundbreaking impact on the end result of your baked product. The reason for preheating your oven is simple- it creates uniform heat throughout the space of the oven. Therefore, when you put your batters or dough for baking, the leaving agents like yeast, baking soda and powder and even the eggs begin to react immediately and that is what gives your soufflés, eclairs, cakes, cupcakes that beautiful rise and golden color. Put them in a cold oven and take the heat from cold to warm to hot and you’ll have a baked product that is very unevenly cooked as by the time the oven gets hot, one part of the oven will start to receive warm heat while the other will still be cold. Therefore, if you want to learn how to be a better baker always start your oven and preheat it to the temperature called for in the recipe at least 15 minutes before you bake.
4. Your baking tools are just as important as the technique and ingredients you use:
There are different tools that perform different functions when you bake a certain baked good. For instance, when you want to make soufflé or rose and raspberry cheesecake macarons, you have to fold in the egg whites with a metal spoon to ensure the air does not escape from the whipped egg whites. Consequently, when you want to make chai spice chocolate brownies, you will have to use a wooden spoon or spatula to make sure you do not incorporate any air into the mix. Putting your brownie batter to whip in a stand mixer is a cardinal sin and whipping egg whites with a wooden spoon will never yield any results and will put all your elbow grease to waste.
5. Always line your baking trays, pans, tins with parchment or grease them well:
You’ve put so much of love, care and effort to prepare that precious batter. Imagine all of it having to go to waste simply because you did not take an additional 60 seconds to grease your tart cases or line your cake tins and brownie pans with greaseproof parchment! When you wish to learn how to be a better baker, you first need to get in the habit of having your tins prepared well in advance. It helps release your final baked product with ease and you get the perfect result every single time.
The next time your find yourself questioning how to be a better baker, I hope these points will help you.