Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Guide for Novice Bakers

Many people think that baking is simple.  They get a recipe, follow it and if they don’t have the right equipment or the patience to wait, they often make horrible mistakes.  I’ve had coworkers complain that they followed my recipe to a T, only it turns out that they microwaved the butter and didn’t use the right kind of mixer.  

To make life simple for you, our hungry readers, we’ve outlined some of the most typical blunders that the novice baker makes.

PS. with input from the best baker of all, my mom :)

-Softened butter does NOT mean melted butter... waiting a bit longer for the butter to soften will make the difference between successful and fail cookies, don’t be impatient and just stick the butter in the microwave
-Baking soda and baking powder are NOT the same thing... both are used for a rising effect but they’re not interchangeable. more info found HERE
-Unless specifically stated, do not use ANYTHING straight from the refrigerator.  Let it equillibrate to room temperature (this means eggs, water, milk, etc)
-Let cream heat to just under boiling.  Don’t boil it unless you’re trying to make lumps.
-Never bake anything without greasing the pan first... it will stick miserably and its probably going to be somewhat burnt on the bottom/sides.
-Never completely trust your grandmother’s recipes
-Never bake cookies directly on the baking pan... always use parchment paper or silpat
-Double boilers are important.  Don’t think that using any old sauce pan is an option if a recipe calls for a double boiler. You can however place a bowl on top of a pot of boiling water as a substitute but never use only a sauce pan.
-Never measure liquids and dry ingredients using the same equipment... 1 cup of milk is not equal to 1 cup of flour
-There are different types of sugar... granulated sugar is NOT confectioner sugar, they are NOT interchangeable.  If you are using bakers sugar, sometimes the measurements are different than they are with granulated...sometimes they are not.  Read the package.
-When using brown sugar, you have to pack it. 1 cup of packed brown sugar is very different from 1 cup of unpacked brown sugar.
-Use the exact size of the pan the recipe calls for. If not, you must remember to adjust the baking time or whatever you’re baking will not rise correctly
-There are different types of flour... all purpose flour is NOT the same as cake flour, they are NOT interchangeable
-When the recipe says to fold in a particular ingredient, it does NOT mean to just mix it. Folding and mixing are two completely different things.

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