First baking tip to have the best cooking experience is to have no fear!
“Take a deep breath, close your eyes and imagine that delicious triple-layer chocolate cake. Honestly, what is the worst thing that could happen? Even lopsided cakes are delicious, and you’ll do better next time.”
“Depending on how much you beat the batter after the eggs are added, this crust [on brownies, pound cakes and even chocolate chip cookies] can be barely noticeable or a dramatic crisp, shiny crust.”
Take one minute to mentally walk through what you’re cooking.
Before you start cooking, taking just one minute to think through what you’re about to do makes all the difference in the world. If you’re making multiple dishes, you can pick out what takes the longest to cook and the exact order to prep and cook things, seeing where there are opportunities to prep things while something else is cooking. It’s a lot more efficient to have a mental game plan so you don’t hit any bumps, like forgetting to get water boiling.
“Let the batter sit for a few minutes before pouring it into the pan. This allows the flour and other dry ingredients to fully combine with the moist ingredients. It really does make a difference in the way the cake bakes and the texture of the crumb.”
Use wide, shallow pans.
Instead of saucepans, try using wide, shallow pans for cooking instead. The wider surface area means there’s more of the pan directly touching the heating element. More surface area also means that liquids reduce faster and you can brown more food at once in a single layer.
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“Check before the indicated cooking time for doneness. Ovens may be the exact same temperature, but surprisingly, each can cook differently. Chocolate cakes and other desserts are notoriously finicky, and usually benefit from under baking rather than over baking.”
Some recipes call for creaming butter and sugar. Here’s the deal, creaming butter and sugar means that you’re beating butter and sugar together (usually using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment) in order to aerate the mixture. For the best results, butter must be softened to room temperature. Cold butter will be too tough to aerate. Beat the butter and sugar for 3 to 5 minutes on medium speed. If the butter is at room temperature, after three minutes you’ll notice that the mixture is pale in color and slightly fluffy.
“Spend time creaming your butter and sugar together. Not to get too much into the science of baking, but the sugar crystals help aerate the butter by creating air bubbles as they cut into the fat. If you cream the butter and sugar correctly (about 10 minutes), you’ll get evenly baked, fluffy cookies.”
“For light and fluffy baked goods, it’s important not to over stir. First, make sure your dry ingredients are completely mixed together before you get them wet. Next, instead of stirring vigorously like a cartoon chef, gently scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl and mix with a folding motion, constantly incorporating a new section of batter.”
Pay special attention to key instructions like “cream until light and fluffy,” “mix until just combined,” and “fold in gently.” Overmixing overdevelops gluten and deflates the air pockets you worked so hard to create, as does a vigorous or overzealous folding motion. A note on sifting ingredients: Unless it’s ultralight, ultra-delicate cake flour, or powdered sugar that needs as much aeration as it can get, it’s a step you can skip.