10 tips to make you a star baker...

  10 tips for your best baking - no matter what time of year or season, these tips are the building blocks of good baking every time...

Tip 1 use rice flour to help when cutting out soft dough...

If you're working with a soft dough, such as these spiced Scandinavian biscuits, dust your surfaces and cutter with rice flour and not wheat flour - its slightly more granular texture helps to stop sticking...

 

Tip 2 read the recipe

Read the recipe - all way through!  Baking requires more precision than other kitchen antics; understanding what the recipe requires will help prevent those all-too-familiar oversights such as leaving out the eggs, or baking powder, or forgetting to preheat the oven...

 

Tip 3 weigh your ingredients

Weigh your ingredients!  Cup measurements vary with brands, weather, cooks and even countries; weights are much more reliable and consistent...

 

Tip 4 Measure your liquids carefully

Measure your liquids - carefully!  A tablespoon in Australia = 20ml, UK = 15ml, and the USA = 16ml; not necessarily huge differences, but it helps to know...

 

Tip 5 dip your cutters in flour

Dip your cutters in flour  before each cut (rice flour if you have it), and don't twist the cutter before you lift it!  Twisting will seal the edges of the dough together and prevent even rising...

 

Tip 6 Use fresh butter for your baking

Use fresh butter for your baking!  And keep it in an airtight container in the fridge until needed - butter will not only pick up odours from other foods, but the exposed edges will turn a darker yellow, begin to spoil, and lose the natural fresh sweetness of good butter...

 

Tip 7 Use fresh spices

 

Tip 8 make baking paper your best friend

Make baking paper your best friend!  Recipes for biscuits and pastries instruct us to make the dough, form it into a disc and refrigerate, to make the dough easier to handle.  I've always struggled with that; I take the dough from the fridge, it's a hard lump, and then I have to wait for it to soften to roll it out - no more!  Simply roll your dough between two sheets of baking paper to your desired thickness, slide the baking paper with the dough onto a tray and refrigerate.  Then, all you have to do is peel back the top sheet, cut out your shapes and either lift them onto another tray or gently pull the dough away from the shapes and straight into the oven; or you could of course bake the whole tray as is, which will give you both your desired shapes and a baked version of the negative space...

Tip 9 Check your eggs

Check your eggs!  Try to buy free range, they're better in every way.  Store in the fridge, round end down and remove to room temperature before use (if you forget 10-15 minutes in a bowl of warm water will do it).  Eggs that are a few days old will give your meringues more ooomph; if in doubt, use the float test - sideways is pretty fresh, vertical is older, bobbing on the top makes it an undesirable friend for your baking...

Tip 10 Use a timer

Use a timer!  Phones ring, kids need you, someone pours you another champagne; all manner of things happen to distract you...

Happy baking, if you have any questions or queries, send me an email - see you next week!