Confession: I love baked goodies but I'm not much of a baker myself. Well, I do (kind of) enjoy it when I do it sometimes, but it's not a stress-buster or passion or a very frequent occurrence in my house. I bake because I (sometimes) like to make my son treats, or bake together with him (though that often turns into more of a disaster than a morning of bonding, as you can read here).
So for mums like me, who bake because they have to rather than want to, I've put together some basic baking tips:
- Always have all your ingredients ready and laid out before you begin. It might seem obvious but it's not the easiest or cleanest task to find something you need or open a jar of sugar when your hands are sticky all over.
- Invest in the right baking equipment – accurate measuring cups and spoons and a kitchen scale. Non-stick bakeware makes things a lot easier.
- Follow the recipe to the tee (at least till you get a hang of quantities and baking) to get the desired end result.
- Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature before you start; this makes it easier to mix. Especially the butter…
- If the eggs and sugar need to be beaten, make sure it is a smooth mixture and there are no lumps left.
- Learn to work the right way with baking powder. It is a magical – and key – ingredient in baking, but too much of a good thing never does anyone any good, correct? Use too much and it will make your goodies rise and fall too quickly, leaving you with a hard, dry centre.
- If you want to layer your cake, use dental floss or a sewing thread to cut it into half or three sections.
- Poke a wooden toothpick or wooden skewer in the centre of the cake to check if it's done. If it comes out clear without anything sticking to it, it's done.
- This might sound silly, but I'm guilty of having done it myself – don't keep opening and closing the oven door! As a novice, it is tempting to keep checking on your cake, to see if it's 'rising' or getting brown or just to marvel at your magic cooking in the oven. But every time a draft of cool air gets in, it messes with the baking time so keep the oven door shut.
- And last but not the least, here's a useful infographic on baking times for different sized cake pans.
Go ahead, put on your baker's cap and have some fun – the end result is a cake of some form so it's a win-win situation anyways!!!
Here's one of my favourite baking go-to recipes – My Mix n' Match Wholewheat Banana Bread. It's delicious and a great (and healthy) snack or anytime treat.
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