If your experience with baking is anything like mine, sometimes you follow a recipe word for word, you painstakingly measure ingredients, you cook for just the right amount of time and.... the cookies run and are flat, or the bread won't rise as it should. It's infuriating. You do everything right and the baking Gods just aren't on your side.
Well, I talked to Greg, our head baker here at Britain Loves Baking, and below you can find some of his tips to make sure that your bakes come out looking Top Baker-ready every time:
1. Coat things like fruit and chocolate chips in flour before adding them to your mix. This prevents all the bits from sinking to the bottom and ensures you’ve got an even distribution of flavour.
2. If you need to used chilled butter, grate it and freeze it for about an hour beforehand. Since it's already quite cold and in itty-bitty pieces, you'll handle it less which will prevent the butter from melting and it keeps the fat molecules intact, resulting in flakier pastries.
3. Know that a lot of the time, you shouldn't over-mix things. Very rarely should you ever mix dough or batter until all of the lumps are gone? Most recipes say “until incorporated” and they mean just that. Too much mixing can aerate the dough, or over-develop the gluten leading to an unpleasant texture in the end.
4. Measure out your ingredients before you begin I know it sounds silly but I can't tell you how many times I've read 1/2 as 1/4 or put ingredients into the mixing bowl out of order. I've found that if I measure everything out before I begin baking I make far fewer errors and I can really focus on specifics. This is also a good way to get daily items like butter, eggs, or milk to room temperature (if the recipe calls for it).
5. Speaking of measuring... It's worth noting the difference between measuring wet and dry ingredients. To measure dry ingredients, always use a dry measuring cup fit for the amount of dry ingredient you're measuring, spoon in the dry ingredients, then scrape across the top. To measure wet ingredients use liquid measuring cups (equipped with a spout) and measure to the level called for. However, to be as precise as possible, Greg recommends using a digital scale to measure the dry ingredients. The weight gives the best indication of the quantity that accounts for variations in weight and density of dry ingredients, like flour.
Remember, baking is chemistry! Proportions of ingredients, temperature, time, and mixing must work together precisely to result in just the right bake. I hope you find these tips useful in your kitchen– if you have any baking questions feel free to pop them below and we'll get Greg's expert opinion. Whether you're a seasoned baker or just starting out, our baking boxes are a great way to practice some of these tips!