Do you know how many times someone tells me that I’m a great baker? I’m not saying this too toot my own horn, I think it’s hilarious because I don’t think I’m that great. I think my sister is a great baker and my grandma was an amazing baker, but I’m just so-so. So why do people think I’m a good baker? I think it’s because I’ve learned to execute recipes well and I know where my baking strengths lie.
Here are some of my rules for baking to get you started:
Read The Recipe Ahead of Time
Take the time to find recipes that you might be interested in trying and read them from start to finish. Before you start baking any recipe you should read every recipe all the way through to make sure you understand the instructions, have all the ingredients and figure out timing of the task (if I’d only followed this suggestion in my labs at University).
Take Your Time
One of my biggest downfalls when it comes to most things is patience. Lack of patience can ruin your baked goods. If you rush through the process you’re more likely to mess things up.
Follow the Instructions (to a T)
The most important thing with baking is that you follow the instructions. Baking is kinda like a science experiment, there’s a reason things are added in a particular way or particular order, so if you are like how I once was, dumping everything in at once, start paying attention to order and methods and I bet you’ll see a huge improvement in your baking.
Find Your Signature Recipe
Of course I think you should always practice and learn new things, but if you are asked to bring dessert somewhere, or just want to bake for others, rely on the recipes you know really well and leave the practice projects for home until you get them right. My own go-to’s are cookies, like these chocolate chip ones. I also rely heavily on The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook where I always go to for the best cupcake recipes and the ever popular Snickerdoodle!
and finally . . . . . . . . . . .
Practice, Practice, Practice!
The most important step you could take to better your baking is simply practice. Practice will not only improve your general baking, but the more comfortable you feel, the more creative you can get with your recipes.
Some extra tips:
- Convection ovens tend to bake stuff faster. I always turn my down 20 degrees lower than the recommended temperature.
- Always crack your eggs in a separate bowl. Trust me on this one!
- You don’t need a fancy stand mixer in order to bake. For the longest time I only had a hand mixer and it worked just as well.
- If a cookie recipe gives you a range of temps, I always pull mine out at the lowest time interval. They sometimes look like they’re not done, but once they cool and set, it’s pretty much a guarantee for soft, chewy cookies!
- Some recipes suck! They just do! And no matter how well you follow them, they’ll never turn out. So if you have something that’s just not working, time and time again, scrap it and find something new.
You CAN bake! I promise! Don’t be afraid! Just get in to the kitchen and do it. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll become in your baking skills. Soon enough you’ll amaze people with your ability to just whip something up on a whim and you can relish in the fact that it really isn’t that hard.