Baking doesn’t always go to plan, as shown in my always room for error posts, but don’t loose hope!!! A lot of the time these errors can be solved. Here are a few of my tricks of the trade to help you get the perfect bake every time!
Mixing is a general term in baking that includes stirring, beating, blending, binding, creaming, whipping and folding. Each mixing method gives a different texture and character to the baked good. The utensil you use will also give a different texture to a mixture and impact on what happens during mixing.
- STIR: This method is the simplest, as it involves mixing all the ingredients together with a utensil, usually a spoon, using a circular motion.
- BEAT: The ingredients are moved vigorously in a back and forth, up and down, and around and around motion until they are smooth. This is done with a spoon or fork. An electric mixer can also be used to beat the ingredients together.
- BLEND: Ingredients are mixed so thoroughly they become one with a handheld or a free standing blender.
- CREAM: Fat and sugar are beaten together with a wooden spoon until they take on a light, airy and fluffy texture.
The amount of time you cream the butter and sugar can determine how light and fluffy a particular baked good is (the more light and fluffy the butter and sugar look the more light and fluffy the final product will be).
- WHIP OR WHISK: Air is incorporated into such foods as whipping cream and egg whites through very vigorous mixing, usually with an electric mixer or balloon whisk.
- FOLD: One ingredient is gently incorporated into another by hand with a large spoon or spatula. It creates little aeration – I tend to do a figure of 8 shape in the bowl with a wooden spatula.
- KNEAD: To fold, turn, and press dough with heel of your hand in order to develop the gluten and make dough more elastic
Tips for making…
- When making cupcakes you want to try and get a flat top cake so that applying your icing is easier and neater. I have found that if you use margarine instead of butter it stops the cakes from ‘dome-ing’ when baked.
- When making up a muffin mixture, be v.careful not to over mix otherwise the mixture will toughen up and you won’t achieve the light, fluffy muffins you want. Lumps and unevenness in the batter is ok – do not try to mix these out (even though it is very tempting!!!) The entire mixing process should not take longer than 20 or 30 seconds.
- Before folding chocolate chips in cake/muffin mixture roughly coat them in some plain flour as this will prevent them sinking to the bottom of the cake when baked.
- If your baking a hemisphere cake then the cooking time will be about 10 minutes longer and remember to set it into a baking ring so it doesnt topple over in the oven.
- Dont be afraid of taking your cookies out because they look a little undone. If you want really soft cookies (Millie’s cookie style) then i suggest baking for no more than 8 minutes. Cookies will firm up whilst they are cooling.
- If your making chocolate chip cookies, I tend to add about 5-10g extra choc chips as stated. This is because I like mine extra chunky, but it all depends on opinion.
- If your cake mixture curdles (normally because of ingredients not being at room temp. or eggs are added too quickly) then fear not! Almost always using an electric whisk will bring all the ingredients back together again, use the whisk on a low setting.
- When beating (using a hand/electric whisk) make sure you hold the mixing bowl tilted away from you. The goal in beating is often more than just combining ingredients together, but also to introduce air into the mixture.
- Adding eggs too quickly or adding all the other liquid (milk) to your cake mix at once will cause curdling. Add a small portion of the flour at the start of the mix to help eliminate curdling in mixes with high liquid content. The batter is then mixed slowly until smooth and the flour completely mixed in and wet.
- A white chocolate ganache will not thicken as much as a milk or dark ganache. So use 3/4 parts double-cream and 1/4 part butter to get the thick creamy texture you want.
- Never let leftover buttercream go to waste!! Have a look at my Buttercream Truffles recipe OR freeze it for up to 3 months in a freezable container. To de-frost leave in the fridge to thaw, then before using make sure it is at room temperature.
- If you like your brownies fudgy and not crumbly, remove them from the oven as soon as they begin to crack on top, brownies will cook a little extra when cooling. This will give them that moist chewy centre that you want.