Baking is known to have a relaxing effect and it is a great hobby as well. But for many people, the prospect of baking is unnerving since baking requires more precision and skill than all other forms of cooking. Here are some handy baking tips for beginners.
Follow the instructions: Unlike other forms of cooking where you may add an extra spoonful of butter or an additional pinch of spice, baking requires that you follow the instructions down to a tee. Read the recipe ahead of time and make sure you have all the ingredients and tools neatly arranged before you start.
Keep ingredients at room temperature: This is especially true for butter and eggs, but overall, you’d do well to arrange all ingredients at least an hour before baking so they reach room temperature by the time you start.
Grease the baking pan: To prevent the dish from sticking to the pan, always grease the pan with melted butter and lightly dust with flour. You can also use ready-to-use baking pan sprays.
Measure well: For dry ingredients such as flour, salt and sugar, a graduated measuring cup is essential. For wet ingredients like egg and water, you’ll need a liquid measuring cup. You should not use a liquid measuring cup to measure dry ingredients and vice versa. Measure baking ingredients loosely (except brown sugar) and away from the mixing bowl to guard against spilling. Here’s a handy conversion table to help you measure baking ingredients:
Don’t over-mix: Over-mixing baking ingredients will result in a dry dish. Use an electric mixer for mixing sugar with liquids but never for dry ingredients. It is best to spoon in the dry ingredients manually into the wet mixture.
Preheat the oven: It is very important to preheat your oven before placing the dish inside. If your oven is cold or not hot enough when you start baking, the dish will not develop properly, might not rise and might look odd when it is done.
Control yourself: Yes, it is very tempting to peek inside the oven and look at what’s going on. But every time you open the oven door, you prevent the dish from cooking uniformly.
Take care not to over-bake your dish. After the baking time has elapsed, insert a toothpick in the centre of the dish and if it comes out dry, your dish is done. Baking is an art and it can be intimidating for newbies. But with practice, you’ll discover that baking is fun and does allow a little bit of room for experimentation.