7 Great Tips for Everyday Baking
Baking is an enjoyable endeavor, but it can be tricky if you’re a novice with the oven. However, it’s not impossible to make something at home that looks and tastes like the work of a professional. Whether you’re new to the ways of the whisk or just don’t know how to soften butter quickly, here are baking hacks every home cook needs to know.
1. Remove cupcakes from the pan immediately
It is common practice to let a large cake set in its pan for a few minutes after removing it from the oven. However, smaller cakes, such as cupcakes, can continue to cook if left in a hot pan. This is why it is advisable to remove them as soon as possible, taking great care not to burn your fingers. Leave on a wire rack to cool. When lifting cupcakes out of a hot pan, gently tug at both sides of the paper at the same time for an even, mess-free removal.
2. Filling empty pans with water
There may be times when, even though you are following a recipe, you might end up not using every space in a 12-hole muffin pan. Before baking, carefully fill the empty spaces half full of water. This will help distribute the heat and allow the other cakes to bake more evenly.
3. Water with care
Using a liquid measuring cup, pour the water until halfway up the sides of the pans before gently sliding the tray into the oven.
4. A soft top for muffins
Muffins bake at quite a high temperature, and it is not uncommon to find that the tops are a little overcooked by the time the inside is done. A simple trick to rectify this is to cover the muffins with a clean, dry dish towel while they cool. The resulting steam will soften the tops slightly, making them perfectly moist. This trick works best with simple muffins; those with a crunchy streusel topping should always be left uncovered.
5. Cutting scones straight down
When cutting out scones or biscuits, do not be tempted to twist the cutter slightly to release them. This action will cause the edges to bind together, leading to the scones rising unevenly. A straight up-and-down cutting motion is needed for a perfectly risen result.
6. Moistening muffins with grated apple or pear
Muffins have a reputation for being delicious straight out of the oven, but they tend to taste dry and stale within only a couple of days. To keep them moister for longer, try adding some grated apple or pear, or even a little mashed banana, to the mix.
7. Don’t open the oven!
It is tempting, when baking, to take a peek inside the oven to see how things are progressing. However, opening the oven door results in a sudden drop of temperature that can have serious consequences for your cake. A good rule of thumb is never to open the oven door until at least threequarters of the cooking time allowed for in the recipe has elapsed.