Do you remember that weekend when your grandmother came to visit and brought that amazing cake? Can you recall the fluffy deliciousness melting in your mouth? Did you ever wonder how she made it that good? Have you ever failed to make it yourself?
There’s an undeniable truth and it’s that grandmothers know a lot when it comes to baking. And cooking, for that matter. With years of experience and collecting little tricks, they somehow make every meal delicious.
Baking cakes wasn’t my strongest skill for a long time, something was always a bit off. But then my granny gave me some amazing advice and today I will share some of her baking tips with you.
#1 Start with a clean oven
I remember when I made my first carrot cake. It turned out amazing, or so I thought before I tried it. When I served my beautiful carrot creation, cut a piece and tasted it, I was really surprised. I wasn’t quite fond of the result, mostly because it smelled like fish. Yes, that’s right, I didn’t clean the furnace after cooking the night before. That’s when I finally understood one of my grandmother’s baking rules – never cook in a messy oven. It’s a shame that I had to waste a good looking cake in order to remember this.
So please, learn from my mistake, and from my granny’s advice, and bake only in a clean oven. If this task seems too hard and, like me, you don’t want to do it, just hire some professionals.
I’ve been baking for quite some time now, and I’ve hated cleaning the oven for even more time, so I always turn to a local trusted company. An oven cleaning team deals with this task instead of me.
#2 Good preparation is essential
Half of the baking process is about preparing well, says my granny. And this includes more than a clean cooker. You need to have your recipe and you need to read it really well. Then you have to get all the tools and proper ingredients and remember that you should always go for the best stuff you can afford. You should pick the proper flour for the certain recipe and if you truly want to achieve greatness, don’t go for cheap products. If you don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised in the end, make sure to follow the recipe. You can make a big cooking mistake if you don’t do that.
#3 Measure everything properly
Apparently, measuring ingredients is one of the key steps that almost all of us are getting wrong. Baking is not like the other types of cooking and ingredients are measured with level measurements. There are measuring cups made for liquids and other ones for dry ingredients. You have to sift the flour before you measure it, then when you fill the measuring cup use a spatula to level the excess amount off the edge of the cup. When you did well with the measuring you’ll worry less that something will go out of hand and you’ll mess up the recipe and the furnace.
#4 It’s all about the chemistry
Every ingredient has its own purpose and you need to know them if you don’t want a hot mess in the oven. Let’s look at the basics:
- Eggs – they are the ones that help the dough set in the oven and make an even mixture. Although, you should always follow the recipe about the number of eggs. If you go overboard, you may end up with a thick result. For an extended explanation on how to use eggs see this article.
- Flour – with its gluten and protein, flour is the ingredient that gives a structure to whatever you’re trying to bake. Again, if you add too much or you over-mix you will achieve a harder dough.
- Baking soda – it forms air bubbles in the dough which expand during the baking. The dough turns fluffier, airier and the baking powder cause it to rise. Check the expiration date before you buy baking soda because it’s sensitive to moisture.
- Fats – they are the ones that help achieve a tender texture by providing moisture to the dough and slowing down the gluten formation.
- Sugar – also help with the texture by breaking up the gluten and adding more moisture. Sugar helps with the browning and enriches the flavour.
#5 Let the baked goodies cool off
This is always problematic in our family. We just can’t wait for delicious stuff to cool off and apparently, that’s not a good thing. My granny says that if you want to keep the structure and firmness of the cookies (and the other baked goodies) you need to let them cool a bit before serving. You can use cooling rack and whatnot, that doesn’t matter as long as you follow the instructions on the recipe.