Baking is a unique process that can be fun and beneficial for your mental health. While it’s possible to bake healthy options, it’s usually reserved for comfort foods, desserts, and treats.
Unlike cooking, baking is more precise. While most people can cook a meal using the utensils they already have, baking also sometimes requires specific pans and tools.
For the new baker, baking at home can seem daunting. You may have to learn new terms and buy new utensils that you’re not sure how to use.
Our guide offers the best 12 tips to get started baking at home. By following these instructions, you should be ready to get baking.
1. Buy the Proper Baking Tools
To start baking, you’ll need some essential tools. We’ve put together a quick list of baking tools you’ll need:
- Stand mixer – Stand mixers are the king of all baking utensils. They can accompany large quantities of any mixture or dough and save you time in the kitchen.
- Silicon mats – Silicon mats are usually a great reusable replacement for parchment paper. They prevent your baked goods from sticking to a pan without overcooking the bottom like aluminum foil would.
- Digital scale – Measuring by weight is the most precise way to ensure you’re using the proper amount of ingredients. A digital scale can save you the headache of wondering why your treat came out too dry or too moist
- Cooling rack – Most baked goods have a crucial cooling period after they come out of the oven. Keeping them on a hot pan can increase the overall cook time. A cooling rack increases airflow and helps your treats cool down faster.
- Baking pans – The type of baking pans you invest in might vary depending on the recipes you like to make. You’ll need specific pans if you bake things like bundt cakes, cupcakes and donuts. Anything with a specific shape needs a proper mold to bake properly.
Make sure you organize your kitchen well so your utensils are on hand when you need them.
2. Start Slow and Careful
Especially if you’re a beginner, take every recipe slow and have patience with yourself. We’ll emphasize this throughout our guide – baking is very precise. If you’re rushed or move too fast, you could risk inaccurate measurements or skipped steps.
Read through your recipe before you get started to understand each step. If there’s anything you’re confused about, consider asking for help or researching more. Preparation will help you move faster without skipping steps or doing something incorrectly.
3. Pay Attention to Temperature
You may not pay attention to your ingredients’ temperature while cooking, but it’s very important in baking. Many recipes call for room-temperature butter, while others require cold butter. The same may apply to ingredients like eggs or milk.
You may think a slight difference in temperature couldn’t change much, but it could alter the entire product. For example, flaky pastries like croissants require cold butter because the steam that comes off pushes the dough into different layers. With warm butter, you’d get more of unified dough and none of the signature flakiness.
4. Read up on Baking Terms
Beginner bakers will notice that recipes have a lot of terms you may not be used to. What are stiff peaks? How do I proof dough? These are all common questions that you’ll be asking yourself.
Don’t feel alarmed if you’re confused about what to do – everyone has to start somewhere. Here are some common terms and definitions you might need to get started:
- Stiff peaks – This is a term mainly used to describe whipped egg whites. Most recipes require stiff peaks, which means the foam will stand straight up.
- Proof – If a recipe asks you to proof your dough, it means to step away. Proofing is the process where the dough rises or yeast activates. All you have to do is leave the dough alone and make sure you come back to it in the allotted time.
- Fold – Folding is much more gentle than mixing. To fold your batter, use a spatula or other flat utensil and scoop the bottom onto the top.
- Cut in – Recipes will usually ask you to cut in butter or another solid substance. This means using a knife or fork and cutting the butter into smaller pieces so it incorporates into your mixture.
5. Invest in High-Quality Ingredients
Baking ingredients aren’t a place to cheap out. The higher-quality ingredients you use, the better experience you’ll have with your dough and finished product.
Consider the type of oils, butter, sugar and salt that you buy. Low-quality ingredients show up as bland flavors or disappointing textures. High-quality ingredients will usually get you as close to the finished product as possible in terms of taste and texture.
6. Stock Your Pantry With the Basics
The best part about baking is a little bit goes a long way. Most ingredients call for a few tablespoons or teaspoons of ingredients like baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla extract. By having these products on hand, you’re set for a variety of recipes.
For example, the most common ingredients for baking cake include flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and sometimes yeast. Different cakes call for different ratios and additions like milk and chocolate chips. Keeping these ingredients on hand means you can experiment with different types of cakes.
Many of these ingredients last a long time, but that means we tend to hold on to them forever. Make sure you continually check for expired ingredients that need to be replaced.
7. Set out Your Ingredients First
Take some of the stress out of baking by setting out all your ingredients first. This way, you have a single workstation and don’t need to be running back and forth across your kitchen to find things.
If you want to get even more organized, measure everything out beforehand as well. You’ll be shocked at how easy baking becomes when all you’re doing is mixing and blending.
8. Clean as You Go
The more clutter you build up, the more overwhelmed you’ll feel. Since you’re taking each recipe slow, you should have plenty of time to clean as you go.
It’s important to know that baking can get messy, so don’t try to be perfect. Always wear an apron and know that common ingredients like flour and butter wipe up easily.
Before you get started, set aside a spot for clean and dirty utensils. Keep these areas separate so you maintain a less cluttered space as you work. As you use ingredients, put them away as you go.
Cleaning your kitchen regularly will enhance your baking experience overall. Proper organization can help you work faster while it’s also more hygienic.
8. Measure Correctly
Did you know there’s a proper way to measure ingredients? It’s not as simple as you think. Especially with dry ingredients, it’s too easy to measure an inaccurate cup.
To measure precisely, always sift your dry ingredients first. This breaks up clumps and gets rid of a lot of air. Next, try to scoop your dry ingredients in one try instead of scooping multiple times. The more you scoop, the more you’re adding air that can give an inaccurate measure.
Lastly, make sure to smooth off your measurement so you don’t have any excess. Like we mentioned before, it’s best to invest in a digital scale so you can weigh your ingredients precisely.
9. Leave the Oven Alone
It can be so tempting to watch cupcakes rise or see your cookies golden. Yet, one of the most essential aspects of baking is waiting patiently. Fight the urge to open your oven and spy on your baked goods, even if you don’t have an oven light.
Any time you open the oven you’re letting in air and changing the inner temperature. Altering your baking environment like this can have a big effect on the finished product.
10. Always Butter and Flour Pans
Never forget to butter and flour your pans. This step is in most recipes, but sometimes it’s left out. By using butter and flour, you’re creating a barrier between your food and the edge of the pan.
With direct contact, the edge might heat up faster and alter the texture or even burn your baked good.
11. Get to Know Your Oven
Not all ovens are equal. Get to know your oven by taking note of its actual temperature. It may run cooler or warmer than it says on its display. Furthermore, you may notice that it cooks unevenly. Older ovens might have weakened coils throughout.
While baking, rotate your pans as needed to make sure everything cooks evenly based on your ovens’ design.
12. Taste and Improve
Even though baking is precise, that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment. Always keep in mind whoever you’re baking for, whether it’s yourself or your family and friends.
As you bake more, you can adjust your recipes to alter sweetness, texture, flavor, and more. Add new ingredients or remove them as needed.
Customizing your recipes might seem daunting at first, but it makes the experience much better once you know what you like.
Have Fun While Baking at Home
The best part of baking is enjoying a warm treat. By using these 12 tips, you can bake everything from cookies and cupcakes to cakes and pies. No matter what, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy what you’ve created.
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