Baking hints & tips: 20 tips to help you achieve perfect cakes every time!

I didn’t intend for this week to turn into an hints and tips one, but with today’s post, it looks like it has!  I said in a previous post, that there’s always “World Day this”, “National Day that”, and this week is no exception.  This week in the UK is National Baking Week.  Since the launch of the Great British Bake Off television series three years ago, the UK has gone baking mad, and I firmly put myself in that category!  During the last few years, I’ve picked up some great hints and tips on the baking front – some I’ve learnt through my vast array of cook books and some through my own trial and error.  The advent of the National Baking Week galvanised me into collating all the hints and tips I’ve collected over the years.  And today, I’m sharing some of them with you (I have way too many to put them all into one post!).  Oh, and as usual, they’re not in any particular order.

  1. Always read through the whole recipe before starting!  (Just recently I didn’t do this, and missed a vital step).
  2. Pre-heat the oven.
  3. To fully understand your oven, invest in an oven thermometer.
  4. If using a fan-assisted oven and an oven temperature has only been given for a standard oven, reduce the temperature by 20C.
  5. Weigh all the ingredients out prior to starting – doing this reduces the chances of you leaving an ingredient out.  Also, be sure that you accurately weigh your ingredients.  A few extra grams here and there, WILL make a difference to the result.
  6. Check that all your ingredients are in date.  An out of date baking powder, could be the cause of a sunken cake.
  7. All ingredients should be at room temperature, unless stipulated otherwise in the recipe.
  8. Unless the recipe calls for a different type of sugar, always use caster (super fine) sugar.  Caster sugar has finer granules than regular table sugar, and therefore dissolves easier, producing a lighter bake.  If you don’t have any caster sugar in your cupboards and are still yearning to bake, whizz some table sugar in your food processor (if you have one).  If not, just plough on!
  9. If a recipe calls for self-raising flour, but you only have plain (all-purpose), add 1tsp of baking powder for every 110g of plain flour.
  10. If using treacle, golden syrup, maple syrup or honey in a recipe, oil the spoon first – this will help these viscous ingredients slip right off!
  11. Always line a loose-bottomed tin, otherwise your oven will be wearing most of the mixture!
  12. If making cookies or biscuits, make sure you chill the dough for 30 minutes prior to rolling, cutting and baking.  If you miss this vital step out, you’ll run the risk of your cookies and biscuits spreading and being all flat and squishy.
  13. Minimise the number of times you open and close the oven door during the baking stage.  Too much opening and closing will result in a sunken cake.
  14. For an even bake, turn the cake/biscuits/cookies, around half-way through the baking process.
  15. If a cake is cooking too quickly, cover with a sheet of foil for the remainder of the baking time and turn the oven temperature down slightly.
  16. Check to see how the cake is doing about 10 minutes before the end of the baking time.
  17. Always let your baking completely cool down, especially if you are icing it / them.
  18. When cooling cakes, pop a slice of bread on top to absorb the moisture.  Your cakes will remain most and the slices of bread will be rock hard.
  19. When making buttercream, if you don’t want to look like a ghost, make it in your food processor.  If you don’t own a food processor, use a very deep bowl and add the icing (powdered) sugar a small amount at a time until it’s all incorporated.
  20. If piping icing on top of your cake, make sure the icing is very soft.  Don’t fill the piping bag up too full, go slowly and ice vertically onto the cake.

So, there you have it!  Twenty tips to help you produce perfect baked goods every time.  I’ll be posting again with some more hints soon.  If you have any tips that you’ve picked-up over the years, please share them in the comment box below.
With much love

The Domestic Princess


P.S. Apologies for posting today, instead of yesterday, but I’ve been laid up with an hideous migraine.

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