So many Americans bake to deal with periods of stress or uncertainty. During the height of the pandemic, the hashtag #stressbaking received thousands of mentions on social media every day.
Baking is a great pastime that can help you gain self-confidence and help you communicate with (and spoil!) your loved ones.
And if you first started baking as a way to deal with stress, you might find you are passionate about it and want to improve your baking skills further. You could even start a side hustle or teach your children how to bake.
But what are the key baking tips that every good baker needs to know? Keep reading and you will discover exactly how to become a better baker.
Invest in the Best Baking Equipment
Let’s start at the most logical place. If you are serious about being the best baker you can be, you need the best baking equipment.
There are tons of different baking accouterments available. But it is better (and tidier) to have fewer, versatile, and high-quality tools. Consider getting these items for your baking cupboard:
- Liquid and dry measuring cups/spoons
- Rubber scraper
- Metal spatula
- Pastry brush and parchment paper
- Wire whisk
- Mixer and bowl
- Rolling pin
- Wire sieve
- Knives and a pair of kitchen scissors
- Baking pans with different sizes, shapes, and depths
- Muffin pans
- Wire racks
And of course, a cute apron to wear while you bake.
Having the right equipment will stop you from questioning your baking skills when something goes wrong. You are not a bad baker because your muffins went flat, but you do need a muffin pan!
And if you feel worried about where parchment comes from what you need to know is that it is no longer made of animal products.
Use the Best Ingredients
Next, if you want to level up the taste and texture of your bakes then you need to use the best ingredients possible. Head to your local farmer’s market or farm store for your dairy products, jams, and grains.
Use the best Belgian chocolate you can find for chocolate bakes. Use vanilla pods over vanilla essence and extra virgin olive oil over any other oil.
Follow the Recipe
Learning basic baking skills also includes learning about why you use certain ingredients in bakes.
Many keen chefs will substitute vegetables, spices, and liquids all the time with their cooking. But cooking is an art and baking is a science. Every ingredient listed in a recipe is essential to making that recipe work.
There are five types of essential ingredients in most traditional baking recipes:
- Thickeners = flour, cornstarch, etc.
- Sweeteners = Sugar, muscovado sugar, honey, cane syrup, etc.
- Chemical leaveners = baking soda and baking powder
- Shorteners = butter, lard, vegetable oil, etc.
- Binders = eggs, milk, gelatin, etc.
When a recipe calls for one of these types of ingredients and you skip it, the whole recipe will likely fall apart. You can often substitute one thickening agent for another, for example, but it will still affect the taste and texture.
There is nothing wrong with adapting recipes, making your own recipes, or being creative with your baking. But prepare for them not to work!
Test and Learn How To Use Your Oven
Are you doubting your baking skills because they look great when they go in the oven but look terrible coming out? It is likely your oven’s fault and not yours.
Always turn your oven to the correct temperature before you start baking so it has ample time to reach the right temperature. Then, check the actual temperature of your oven. It may not be working to its full capacity.
While you are turning your oven to 320°F, it might only be hitting 300°F. Exact temperature and timing are essential in baking. Invest in an in-oven thermometer so you can test this for yourself.
A couple of other top oven baking tips is to never open the oven to check on your bakes. Get an oven with a glass, see-through door, and don’t disturb their rise.
And you may have the space and shelves, but do not overcrowd your oven. Your bakes will not get all the heat they need.
Do Not Over Mix Your Batter
This is one of the most crucial baking skills to learn and one of the hardest. Different types of dough need more mixing, beating, or stirring than others. Your recipe should give you some insight into how much mixing a bake needs.
But as a general rule, pizza doughs need a lot, cakes need some, and pies need as little as possible.
Over-mixed doughs have too much air and excess gluten development. This results in bakery items that are chewy and tough to eat.
Measure Your Ingredients
It is so easy to find great baking recipes on the internet. But if they use a European system, you may need to convert the measurements for your ingredients often.
Download a conversion chart online, laminate it, and stick it to your kitchen tile. Then you will be able to convert with sticky baking hands and you won’t have to use your phone.
It may be worth investing in measuring spoons with grams and milliliters as well as cup measurements. And it should go without staying, but always stick to the precise measurements on the recipe.
Preparation, Patience, and Persistence
Baking is fun when it goes right and it can be disheartening when it doesn’t. But all that time, effort, and expense are not wasted as you learn a new lesson from every bake.
Set yourself up for success by laying out all the equipment you need on your workbench and measuring all your ingredients before you begin. Read through the whole recipe first so there are no surprises.
If you are persistent and don’t give in, your baking skills will reward you with far more yummy bakes than gross ones.
Practice Your Baking Skills To Make Perfect
Knowing all the top baking tips in the world will not improve your baking skills unless you practice. Set yourself challenges and bake different types of bread, cakes, cookies, and more.
You will surprise yourself with exactly how capable, versatile, and skilled a baker you are.
Want to check out some recipes to put your baking skills to the test? Browse our website for tons of ideas and more culinary tips!