Baking is one of life’s greatest joys. Nothing beats the comforting scent of fresh, homemade cookies wafting in the air or that first bite of a warm and gooey brownie fresh out of the oven. With more and more people turning to baking in recent times due to stay-at-home restrictions, we’ve seen a massive boom in home bakers sharpening their skills and whipping up some amazing, restaurant-worthy bakes. If you’re someone who is new to the baking game and are feeling slightly overwhelmed, this is the article for you. Today, we have a look at 6 tips for getting into baking for the first time, so read on to find out more!
1. Get Some Basic Tools
Baking is a science, which is why it is important to ensure you have the right “apparatus” before attempting to make a new recipe. Some baking essentials include mixing bowls, hand mixer, baking scales, sieves, measuring cups, baking trays, parchment paper and of course, cake/muffin/tart tins. These are just the basics that you will need and we highly recommend investing in quality bakeware in order to ensure the best results, rise and texture in your baked goods.
2. Follow The Recipe
“Baking is a science, cooking is an art”. Unlike cooking where you are free to improvise and add or remove from a recipe, baking recipes need to be followed to a tee. If the recipe calls for you to preheat the oven to 180C or to sift your flour 3 times, chances are there is a good reason for it. Similarly, it is important to stick to your recipe’s given quantity of sugar, flour, eggs and butter if you want your cake to turn out fluffy, moist and delicious. Most recipes have been tried and tested numerous times before being published, so trust that the order, quantity and techniques hold a lot of significance!
3. Choose Grams over Cups
If you want to ensure that your recipes turn out perfect, we highly recommend weighing all our ingredients in grams over cups. Most professional pastry chefs even insist on using food scales over any other measuring options as weighing your ingredients is something that ensures you have the precise amount of ingredients each and every time. Measuring cups all over the world differ in their quantities (1 American cup = 0.95 Australian cups) and using the wrong cups can result in a less-than-subpar result. The way you scoop or pack ingredients into measuring cups can also add or take away from the optimal amount of each ingredient required in a recipe, thus affecting your overall bake quality. Whenever in doubt, choose grams over cups!
4. Room Temperature Is Key
Have you ever tried creaming rock hard butter with sugar? Chances are you have and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. In fact, ensuring all your ingredients come to room temperature prior to making your doughs or batters is baking 101. Having different temperatures of various ingredients can result in cake batters curdling, doughs separating or ganaches turning into an oily mess. To avoid any of these baking hiccups, we highly recommend bringing all ingredients to room temperature (unless otherwise specified) for at least an hour before you commence your baking sessions. This will also ensure that your ingredients mix easily and don’t end up giving you a week-long sore neck or arm ache!
5. Start Small & Work Your Way Up
As a newbie baker, one can easily get carried away with the plethora of recipes on the internet. It is important to remember that baking is something that people get good at only with regular practice, and no one starts off as a Michelin star pastry chef on day 1. When choosing your recipes, we recommend starting with simple ones such as basic Yellow Make, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Muffins and Scones that don’t require too many special skills, tools or ingredients. As soon as you start feeling more confident, you can work your way up towards recipes such as Tarts, Buttercreams and Roulades. The most important rule is to not rush and to enjoy the process of learning new things at your own pace.
6. Use The Right Sized Baking Tins
Trying to bake brownies or a cake in a tin that is either too small or too big is going to result in a cake that is either overcooked or undercooked and wet in the middle. This is why using the correct sized baking pans and tins is so important. If a recipe calls for two 8inch round cake tins, chances are there is a good reason for that. Similarly, when making traybakes, brownies or slices, it is important to use the proper tins in order to ensure that your slices aren’t overly flat or overly thick.
Baking is something that should be a therapeutic and rewarding experience for all who engage in its wonders. We hope that this article has given you all the tips and tricks you need to start your baking journey. Remember – Rome wasn’t built in a day and practice makes perfect, so don’t feel disheartened if your first few bakes turn out less than satisfactory. Keep at it and we promise you’ll succeed. Bon Appetit!