One of the things I like to do is clip magazine articles that appeal to me—I think I will write about them or at least tell my friends about them, and what actually happens is that the magazine articles usually end up buried in the box of clippings that stack up and become “out of sight, out of mind”.
I have written about some of my own favorite baking tips, based on years of experience – but the other day I found an article in a 2012 Good Housekeeping magazine, titled “OUR 25 BEST BAKING TIPS” – I will try to provide you with an abbreviate copy of thelist—if this is appealing to you, you might want to do a Google search for the entire list.
1. It may sound like a “duh” thing to say but using proper tools to measure ingredients can prevent baking flops. (I can’t imagine baking without using my favorite measuring cups and measuring spoons) so this is an excellent tip.
2. In a nutshell, if the word “chopped” comes before the ingredient, chop it before measuring. My thought to this suggestion is -also have a good sharp knife to use for chopping; it will make the job a lot easier–and work on a good chopping block.
3. If you’ve suddenly been inspired to bake (and good for you!) your flour’s likely been left alone awhile. (I use flour too often for it to get too “old” but what I would add to this tip is – keep a bay leaf or two in the canister with the flour. Bay leaf will prevent any little creepy-crawlers from showing up in the flour canister).
DO’S AND DOUGHS
4. Biscuit dough isn’t as needy as you think.
5. Take a lesson from Grandma: To knead bread dough by hand, turn it onto a lightly floured surface.
6. Frozen bread dough can help you to turn out beautiful breads in less time.(I’ve been using frozen bread loaves for years–but went back to ‘scratch’ bread dough when I realized I liked it a lot more).
7. Stop feeding the trash can faulty bead when you bake your favorite quick breads. (The article goes on to explain how to prevent quick breads from disappointing; they also tell you –and this is something I didn’t know–for best results, use a good quality heavy loaf pans…disposable baking pans may cause the bread’s exterior to bake faster than the interior).
8. Cookies, while sweet, are sensitive creatures. (According to the article, for softer cookies, measure flour carefully; too much flour can make cookies dry and tough. Also avoid over mixing the cookie ingredients–check for doneness at the minimum baking time. They also suggest that you try making cookies with brown sugar or honey, that white sugar produces a crisper cookie).
I’d like to add–as often as I have been baking cookies–which is most of my life–I’ve only recently discovered that our altitude, which is over 3,000 feet but less than 4,000–DOES affect my baking time. One new cookie recipe I began using calls for a baking time of 18 to 20 minutes. I have gone from 18 down to 10 with these cookies. #8 also advises that butter melts faster than margarine, giving cookies more time to spread before they set up.
9. Waiting for butter to come to room temperature is like waiting for water to boil. To soften 1/2 cup of butter quickly, place ant unwrapped stick on a microwave-safe plate in an 1,000 watt microwave. heat at 30% power for 15-20 seconds or until softened.
(Or do as I do–when I get up in the morning and know I am going to bake some cookies today, I take the needed amount of butter out of the refrigerator and unwrapped it, and put it into the Kitchen Aid mixing bowl. it will be soft by the time I am ready to start baking).
10. Let’s dish this out; baking pans are made of metal. Baking dishes are made of ovenproof glass or ceramic. (I didn’t know there was a difference).
11. Yup, quick rise and regular active dry yeast can be substituted for each other in recipes but remember, quick-rise yeast doesn’t need to be dissolved in water before mixing and requires only one rise. (I didn’t know this, either).
12. In the case of light brown vs dark brown sugar, the choice is yours, sugar!
13. Quick cooking oats and old fashioned oats can be interchanged in baked goods. (*I personally like the texture of old fashioned oats when I am making oatmeal cookies).
14. You can use unsalted butter without adding more salt to the recipe.
15. Soy much for milk! Soy milk can be swapped for dairy milk in equal parts.
16. Here’s a sweet substitute: Evaporated skim milk can replace whipping cream. (I like having a supply of evaporated milk on hand for baking–it never occurred to me to buy evaporated skim milk. just saying…)
17. Baking soda and baking powder are both leaveners that cause baked goods to rise and give them a light texture. (The article explains how to test both baking soda and baking powder. You can find the directions for both on Google. That’s where I found the directions and took the time to test both baking soda and baking powder).
18. Bonus tip! Much success with baked goods depends on your baking powder and baking soda’s freshness. (And you know, both products are fairly inexpensive. I buy baking soda frequently from our 99c store. It’s a good idea to change the boxes you keep in the refrigerator every so often.)
19. Unless a recipe states otherwise, cakes baked in fluted tube pans should cool for 10-15 minutes before you move them to a wire rack to cool completely.(didn’t know this either!)
20. Most cookie doughs may be refrigerated or frozen, then baked later. (I’ve been doing this for years. A lot of time, by the time I have mixed the cookie dough and cleaned up after myself, I’m no longer in the mood to bake–so I refrigerate the cookie cough until I am in the mood again).
21. Unfrosted butter cakes and ones iced with butter cream frosting freeze well.
22.To keep a pie crust’s tender edges from burning, fold a 12” square or foil into quarters.(truthfully, then wrap the foil around the pie edges–I didn’t understand the instructions given in the article–but it’s easy enough to wrap them with foil).
23. There’s more than one way to curl chocolate for a decadent adornment to pies or cakes.
24. Decorating cookies with piped frosting gives them a festive look.
25. If you don’t think the mess is half the fun of frosting a cake try this method. Before transferring cooled cake layers to the plate, cut waxed paper into narrow strips and place around the plate’s edges. Center the cake on the plate over strips. When you’re finished frosting, carefully remove the waxed paper by pulling out one pieces at a time from underneath the cake. Voila! You’ll have a beautifully frosted cake and a clean serving plate, too! (I have to confess, I didn’t ‘get’ all of this either. I have several lazy susan’s that are made of wood and are easy enough to use when decorating a cake
Ok, some of the 25 tips are fairly self explanatory and a few are not. I cheated a little and added all of #25’s tip –the first sentence didn’t make any sense without it. But apparently we are advised to visit Taste of Home.com/baking for more great tips and delicious ideas. You might also visit the Good Housekeeping website. Tips and suggestions can be found everywhere!