Baking? Easy Peasy. If you can read, you can bake…EH. WRONG. Don’t let rubbery muffins, a fallen cake or burnt cookies determine your chance of becoming the next contestant on Top Chef. Whether you’re a novice baker or can easily hold your own in the kitchen, I’m sure there’s been a time when you’ve wondered what went wrong. Keep reading and we’ll give you insight on the most common baking mistakes and how to avoid them!
Baking Tips 101
1. Don’t Bake with Cold Eggs and Dairy Products
Take your eggs, butter and milk out of the fridge anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour before you plan to bake. This will help you end up with the light and airy baked goods you see advertised on the box – or at least get you one step closer. Baking Tip 101: Room temperature eggs, butter and milk bond together which helps trap air. This trapped air is what expands during baking, resulting in the airy, fluffy goods.
2. Don’t Use Dry and Liquid Measuring Cups Interchangeably
Liquid and dry measuring cups are different sizes. No this isn’t a trick like, “Which weighs more one pound of bricks or one pound of feathers?” Hint: they both weigh a pound. Let’s use flour as an example. A liquid measuring cup is near impossible to level off, especially without shaking it back and forth. This shaking compacts the flour and you’ll end up adding more than needed. We recommend purchasing dry measuring cups with flat rims that are designed for leveling. Baking Tip 101: The proper way to measure flour is to spoon the ingredients into the dry measuring cup as this prevents excess compacting.
3. Wait Until Your Oven is Fully Preheated
Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves and realize after we’ve already mixed the batter or filled the tins that we forgot to preheat the oven. Oops. “Oh well…we’ll just put it in anyway.” Nope! You must wait! Baking Tip 101: Putting your goodies in an oven that is not fully preheated messes with the whole chemistry of the baking. Then you may end up undercooking or overcooking your baked goods. The ingredients say “Preheat oven to 375” for a reason.
4. Don’t Frost Too Soon
Okay, you spent 20 minutes trying to get the ingredients mixed, you hurried and put your cake batter in a pre-heated oven, and now the timer is going off and you’re ready to frost this baby! HOLD UP. Frosting a warm cake will result in a sad, not-so-pretty dessert. Baking Tip 101: Wait until the cake is fully cooled. Let it sit in the pan for about 5-10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack. This will allow air to get below the cake to help it cool faster. Once the cake has cooled down, we recommend putting a “frosting coat” on first. This is just a thin base-layer of frosting that will hold the loose crumbs in place. Then put the cake in the fridge or freezer for about 15 minutes. This will help set the frosting coat and prepare you to add the next layer of your frosting. WHAM BAM, a beautifully frosted cake!
5. Stop Checking the Oven!
“Are they done yet? What about now?” Yeah, we’ve all done this. We become eager to see the final product and want to check on our baked goods to see if they’re ready, before they actually are. Doing this too often could be the main reason your goodies fall flat. Baking Tip 101: Opening the oven door causes the hot air to escape and lets cold air rush in. You may not think opening the oven door for a quick sec is that big of a deal, but it is. It can significantly drop the temperature inside the oven, slowing the cook time down. If you must take a peek, turn your oven light on.
6. Don’t Burn Your Chocolate
Have you ever tried to melt chocolate in a microwave or on the stove only to end up with chunky burnt pieces swirling around in your mixture? Here’s a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. Baking Tip 101: Put about an inch of water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. While that’s simmering, cut up your chocolate into small pieces – about the size of sugar cubes. (Try our Malley’s Break Up Chocolate to avoid cutting up chocolate, because believe us…the struggle is real). Place a heat-proof bowl, filled with your broken up chocolate, overtop of the boiling water, and stir occasionally to prevent burning. When you have just a few small un-melted pieces remaining, remove the bowl from the heat and continue stirring until thoroughly melted. Voila!
Baking Is a Craft, Not a Race
Baking takes time – you can’t rush the process. If you get impatient or forget to follow simple baking rules like these, it can result in hard, dense or flat baked goods. Nobody wants that! So, if you don’t have the full amount of time suggested on the directions, maybe hold off until you do. Trust us, we’ve baked once or twice 😉
When All Else Fails, Malley’s Chocolates has You Covered
Hopefully reading this blog post has brought to your attention common baking mistakes you may be making. And if anything, you’ll at least be aware of them in your future baking endeavors. If making yummy treats just isn’t your forte,’ leave the hassle to us . Stop by a Malley’s location near you to pick up some of our chocolatey goodness, or visit our website and you won’t even need to leave the house!