Baking Tips and Tricks

  1. Towel It: Grease baking pans using a paper towel. Rub a little bit of shortening or butter along all areas of the pan (if the recipe calls for a greased pan).
  2. Baking Utensils: Make sure you have both liquid and dry measuring spoons and cups, and the specified pan sizes. Recipes require a standard dry-measuring cup for dry ingredients, which include flours, cocoa powder, granulated (brown and regular) sugar, cornmeal, and powdered sugars.
  3. Tricks Of The Shell: Fingers aren’t good for retrieving eggshells. When eggshell pieces fall in the batter or mixture, use the empty half-shell to scoop them out.
  4. Rack Rules: Wondering which oven rack to use? The middle rack is the best choice for baking unless otherwise specified.
  5. Pie Preparation: If baking more than one pie, lower your oven temperature.If the 2 pies are different, use the lowest oven temperature of the two recipes. Bake on separate baking sheets.
  6. Don’t Go Changing: When baking, don’t change the recipe. Cooking can be modified, but baking is an exact science.
  7. Only the Best:You get out what you put in. Use the freshest dairy, fruits, and spices to give the best baking results.
  8. Beating Basics:Don’t over-beat or under-beat your cake batter or you risk changing the cake’s texture or volume. One minute of mixer beating time is the same as 150 strokes by hand.
  9. Best Eggs: Unless a baking recipe calls for a specific size of egg, choose medium to large. Large eggs can cause cakes to fall while cooling.
  10. Shine On:Shiny aluminum pans reflect heat away. When baking cakes this will result in a soft, golden crust.
  11. Chocolaty Dust: When a recipe calls for dusting the tins with flour, try something tastier instead – use a little of the dry cake mix or sifted cocoa powder.
  12. Cracking Up: Does your cake crack when baking? This means your oven is too hot or the rack is placed too high in the oven.
  13. Baking Powder Basics: Did you know baking powder loses its strength? Test yours – pour hot water into a small bowl and add 1 teaspoon of your baking powder. It should fizz like crazy. If it doesn’t, it needs to be replaced.
  14. Butter Means Butter: Butter, margarine, and shortening are often not interchangeable in recipes. The fats are different and may change the result of the recipe.
  15. Extract Or Flavoring:What’s the difference? Extracts are required to contain the natural flavor. Flavorings and imitations may be made artificially.
  16. Cold Concoctions: When using extracts for cooking, add them when your mixture is cold. If added when the mixture is hot, some flavor may be lost due to evaporation.
  17. Pack It In: Brown sugar should be measured by packing it in a dry-cup measure, whether specified or not. With brown sugar, packing is always assumed.
  18. Trade-Off Cakes: Missing the right size cake pan? Two 8-inch square baking pans will work instead of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
  19. No Peeking: Don’t open the oven door while your desserts are baking. Each peek lets out 20% or more of the heat.
  20. Repurposed Tools: A chopstick or broken kitchen tool handle can be stored in the flour container as a measuring cup level. This prevents dirtying another utensil each time.
  21. Cool Off: Run out of cooling rack space for pies? Use an upside-down muffin pan as an extra cooling rack. The middle space between molds allows free airflow.
  22. Parchment Pointer: When rolling piecrust, place dough between 2 sheets of parchment or waxed paper. This avoids the flour mess and makes for a more tender crust.
  23. True Trifecta: Chocolate, vanilla, and salt are made for each other. Use vanilla to give chocolate a smooth taste, and salt to enhance the chocolate taste and balance the natural sweetness.
  24. Muffin Mastery: If you want your muffins to slide from the pan without sticking, place the hot pan on a wet towel first. They should slide right out.
  25. Take The Cake: For parties, don’t pre-slice your cake more than 20 minutes ahead or the cake will dry out.
  26. Embrace The Brown: When bananas turn brown, don’t toss them out. Peel and freeze them to use in banana bread later.
  27. Bounty Of Berries: Buy berries in season at a cheaper price. Freeze them on a cookie sheet and then place in zippered freezer bags. You’ll have perfectly frozen individual berries rather than a mushy mess.
  28. Soaking For Success:If raisins are called for in a recipe, try plumping them first. Measure the amount of raisins required by the recipe, cover with very hot water (not boiling) and allow them to soak and plump for 2 to 5 minutes.
  29. Rockin’ Raisins: Try soaking raisins in cola instead of water. Cola plumps them up and adds a delicious spiciness.
  30. Raisin Ratio: Raisins often sink to the bottom of the cake batter. When adding raisins to batter, stir only 1/4 of the recipe amount into the batter. Pour the batter into your pan and topit with the reserved raisins.
  31. Floating Fruit: When making blueberry muffins, toss fresh blueberries with a tablespoon of flour to keep them from sinking to the bottom. The flour helps them stick to the batter.