Q. What is the best kept secret to making fabulous baked goods?
Room temperature ingredients is one of the most important steps in baking! There is chemistry behind it, but we won’t go into that here – you can always Google it if knowing is believing! Eggs, butter, milk and any other types of dairy ingredients work best when they are at room temperature before you bake. These items should be slightly cool to touch and shouldn’t sit out for more than an hour or so. Room temperature butter and dairy allow for the ingredients to blend more evenly, such as when creaming with the sugars. Room temperature eggs will give you more volume in the batter. A quick way to bring butter or dairy ingredients to room temp if you’re short on time is to warm them in the microwave for 5 seconds at a time. You only need to do this once or twice, otherwise you’ll have a melted puddle of butter or boiling milk which does not work! You can also quickly bring eggs to room temp by placing them in a bowl of warm water for about 15 minutes.
Q. What is the best way to measure ingredients?
Baking is a science, which means it is very important you use the right types of tools and techniques to measure your ingredients. This ensures the ratio of ingredients is correct and distributed properly into your recipe. Make sure to use measuring cups and spoons to measure dry ingredients. These are the ones that come separated as 1 cup, ¾ cup, ½ cup, 1 tablespoon, 1 teaspoon, etc. Also, don’t forget to level off your ingredients by using the back or straight side of a knife. An overflowing cup of flour is going to result in a dry baked good. Liquids should be measured in liquid measuring cups. These are clear glass or plastic cups with several measurements listed on the side. Occasionally, you’ll come across a recipe that requires you to measure in ounces or grams. Having a small kitchen scale on hand is always a good idea for those instances.
Q. Is it necessary to prep your ingredients?
Yes, yes and yes! Doing a little prep work ensures a successful baking experience! First, make sure you read the recipe and directions prior to whipping up your masterpiece! It can be very frustrating to be halfway through the process and realize you don’t have baking soda on hand (which is a very important ingredient)! Measuring out your ingredients and having them all prepped is essential. Have you ever answered a phone call while scooping out flour and when you were done talking you couldn’t remember if you measured out 2 or 3 cups? Guilty! While prepping, make sure you sift your dry ingredients together with a sifter or strainer, such as flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda and powder. This will ensure an even distribution of ingredients and break up any little clumps that might be in them. Another option is to just put them in a bowl and mix thoroughly with a fork or wire whisk.
Q. How can I prevent my baked goods from sticking to the pan?
Parchment paper is your best friend and can be found at the grocery store. You’ll have to cut it to fit different shaped pans. The best way to use it is to butter the pans, place the parchment and dust with flour. For cookies, silicone mats work fabulous and help to cut down waste because they can be reused. Precut parchment and silicone mats can be purchased on Amazon.