Temperatures are finally dropping after a long, hot summer and kitchens around the globe will be cozying up to the idea of baking warm goods. Baking in the kitchen not only fills the kitchen with a satisfying aroma but can fill the soul with the warmth of the oven and the general coziness that comes with it.
A drop of water can ruin an entire bowl of melted chocolate? A dark vs. light baking pan will achieve different results? While these little nuggets of baking wisdom might be common knowledge to experienced bakers, those of us who are trying to up our baking skills might benefit from these small tweaks to our recipes.
It's about that time to throw some cookies in the oven and warm up the kitchen. Looking for some tips? Here are 8 Common Baking Mistakes and How to Fix Them.
1. Opening the oven repeatedly to check on baked goods
Its normal to want to take a peek inside the oven to check on your baked masterpiece, but opening the oven door while baking can really affect certain baked goods. Some delicate desserts, like sponge cakes, can collapse in the oven if the temperature isn't maintained. The sudden drop in temperature could cause some of your baked goods to sink and ruin the final presentation.
Most foods will be fine if you check on them in the oven, but try to keep in mind the recipe you're making and try to limit the number of times you open the door.
2. Dark and light baking pans require different temperatures
Dark and light baking pans are no different than wearing light or dark clothing when its hot outside. The darker color will absorb more heat and warm things up a little faster. Darker pans are generally good for things that you want to brown, like roasted vegetables or crispy appetizers. For delicate baked goods, however, this can result in the outside getting too brown or burnt.
A general rule of thumb is to decrease the baking temperature by 25°F when using a dark pan. The darker the pan = the more heat that will be absorbed.
3. The eggs and butter aren't at room temperature when the recipe calls for it
A recipe will call for room temperature eggs and butter for a reason. Room temperature butter blends with other ingredients more swiftly, and room temperature eggs also whip more easily. The result? Creamier and fluffier baked goods. Microwaving your butter at the last minute typically isn't a good idea either because it heats from the inside out and results in melted butter that can screw with your recipe. Simply let your butter and eggs sit on the counter for 30 minutes to warm to room temperature to avoid this.
Low on time?
Eggs - Put your eggs in a bowl under slightly-warm (not hot!) water for a few minutes. You can let the water run continuously to speed up the process, or let them soak in the bowl for 2-5 minutes or until you can feel the chill of the refrigerator has gone.
Butter - This is where your microwave will come in handy. Cut the stick of butter into several slices, place onto a heat-proof plate or bowl and set aside. Pour 2 cups of water into a microwave safe bowl or cup. Microwave it for about 2-3 minutes until boiling, then remove the water from the microwave. Place the butter in the microwave and close the door to trap hot steam inside. Your butter should be soft in about 10 minutes.
4. Cutting into cakes and bread before they are completely cooled
Slicing into a hot baked good releases steam, which is actually a sign that something is losing moisture. Cutting into baked goods while they're still hot releases the steam all at once and can significantly dry them out. It will also cause your cakes and bread to "tear", making for a messy presentation in the end.
Surely it smells delicious, but its worth it to be patient and let goods come to room temperature before slicing.
5. Using wet and dry measuring cups with the wrong ingredients
Wet and dry measuring cups don't result in the exact same measurements, and although the difference is small it can make a big impact on the results of your baking. Dry measuring cups should be used for (you guessed it) dry ingredients like flour or sugar. Wet measuring cups should be used for all things liquid, like oil, water, honey, or corn syrup.
6. Differently sized eggs produce a different result
Eggs sizes can range from medium to jumbo, and these several sizes of eggs can all be pretty different. Using the wrong size egg can mess up the ratio of your baked goods, so this a step that is worth paying attention to. Most recipes call for large eggs, so if your recipe doesn't specify what size eggs to use its generally best to use large eggs.
7. Melted chocolate will clump in a wet bowl
When water is introduced to melted chocolate, it seizes up, resulting in a clumpy mess that will disappoint those looking for the perfect bowl of smooth chocolate. Make sure your bowl is completely dry before you get started because even a single drop of water can ruin an entire bowl of melted chocolate. Dry, dry, and dry again! Now, who gets to lick the bowl...?
8. Butter and sugar isn't creamed together for enough time
Creaming together butter and sugar is about combining the ingredients, but its also about adding air to the mix, which is a very important step. Some recipes call for over 5 minutes of creaming and a quick mixing won't be enough. A recipe that calls for "light and fluffy" butter and sugar should result in a light color of the two ingredients. That's how you know that air has successfully been incorporated into the blend.
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