When it comes to baking, there are a few tried-and-true secrets that will lead you to sweet success. Even if you are building your baking skills or a natural Betty Crocker, the more information you have in your baking brain, the better!
While simple tips, like "follow the recipe" and "use the correct" ingredients are always helpful, my detailed secrets will make your sweet stuff a true success. Don't forget to share these tips with your baking buddies!
Tip #1: When creaming together butter and sugar (like when you're making cookies), in a kitchen mixer, set the speed on medium (5-6) and set a timer for 12 minutes.
Why? When you are combining butter and sugar, you are also incorporating air. The extra addition of air will add lightness and fluffy-ness to your sweet treat. Don't believe me? Think of it like whipped cream: using a whisk to add air to the heavy cream, it becomes super light and cloud-like. Same thing with combing butter and sugar. The more air, the more tender of a crumb.
Tip #2: Forgo the pastry cutter, and use your best tools: your hands.
The main function of a pastry cutter is to 'cut' the butter into dry ingredients, like flour. This can easily be done with your hands. The act of cutting and rubbing butter into ingredients is a skill learned. Keep on making pie crust or biscuits and, soon, you do not have to use a pastry cutter.
Hands and fingers make it super easy to scrape kitchen mixer attachments and spatulas. In baking, every gram of batter or dough counts!
Tip #3: Store dry pantry ingredients in dark room or cabinets.
Excess light and sunlight (even though, in Seattle, we get a low amount) will eventually damage dry ingredients. Yes, they have a longer shelf life versus persshible and dairy ingredeints, but excess light will the food's nutritional value and qulaity. The temperature needs to be around 50-70 degrees F with a humidity of less than 15%. Don't forget to rotate your food and use the oldest, first. (AKA, FIFO for you industry workers.)
Tip #4: Bake on lightly colored baking sheets.
Lightly colored baking sheets, versus dark colored baking sheets, will not caramelize the sugars (natural or artifical) to a dark level. Thus, that is why when I am baking a recipe that calls for baking sheets (think: cookies, brownies, sheet cakes, etc), always use a light colored baking sheet. Don't burn the bottom of your delicious chocolate chip cookies with dark colored baking pans!
Tip #5: Add a touch of salt to your eggs.
No joke! The addition of salt will tenderize the proteins and make 'em extra soft and tender. Thus, when adding eggs to say, cookies, brownies, or cakes, add a grandma's pinch to the eggs before adding them to the batter. Oh, and when you're scrambling eggs at home, put a pinch of salt in the whisked eggs before you cook them. Trust me, they will be so, so soft and tender.
What do you think of the tips? What is your favorite tip to share?