Whether baking is a second nature to you or not- it’s always great to stumble upon a new tip that makes your effort more worthwhile. Here are a few tidbits I have picked up along the way that have helped turn ordinary baking into something better!
1. Your recipe is your base. Choose a recipe that you feel confident and comfortable with! It’s easy to search through your favorite blogs and find fun recipes- but don’t forget about the treasures that may be right under your nose. Some of my very favorites are the ones jotted down on recipe cards that have been passed down for generations. Where ever your recipe comes from- always read every step of the instructions and ingredients to be sure you have everything you need before you begin. There is nothing worse than finding out you are missing a vital ingredient halfway through mixing!
2. The best of the best. When it comes to ingredients quality truly does matter. The image above demonstrates the difference between low quality and high quality vanilla extract. These bottles both boast that they are “Pure Vanilla Extract” (no imitation here!)- but the color speaks volumes. For a rich balance in your baked goods- splurge for the good stuff! A few favorite ingredients of mine are Nielsen Massey vanillas, Williams Sonoma Espresso Powder, Frontier Cocoa Powder, and Ghirardelli Baking Chips.
3. Parchment Paper is magic. Most older recipes call for greasing the pan before you begin baking. With Parchment Paper, you simply cut a sheet to fit the pan, drop cookies, bake, and then watch as they can be lifted right off the sheet- no spatula required. Parchment paper also helps cookies maintain their thick chewiness by not adding excess oil to the base of the cookie. Awesome.
4. Room Temperature Ingredients. Any butter, eggs or milk that go into a baked recipe need to be room temperature to incorporate most evenly. At room temperature, they bond and form an emulsion that traps air. During baking the air expands and produces the light, even texture that we strive for in cookies, cakes and breads. No time to wait? Place eggs in a bowl of fairly warm water while you mix the other ingredients and microwave butter in 5 second intervals until temperature is achieved.
I love finding simple ways to ensure consistent results. A few changes in the way something is prepared can take the taste and texture to new levels! Please share your tips and questions!