While baking can be a lot of fun, it also requires a hell of a lot of precision and attention to detail. Make one tiny mistake, or miss one small ingredient and you can bet your bottom dollar that the dish will be a disaster.
I have always said that baking can be easy and fun, if you play safe and do it right. Home bakers tend to take a few seemingly unimportant aspects of baking for granted. This is exactly where they falter.
When it comes to good baking, using common sense can save you a lot of hassle. Apart from that practice, the tools you use, and an understanding of the science and the artistic elements of it will help you produce delicious results.
A few common baking errors that can and should be avoided are mentioned ahead. Go through them and improvise.
Using Plastic Bowls and Utensils
Yes, the utensils and tools that you use to prepare/mix your batter or dough are crucial to the result of your baking experiments. Do not use plastic bowls, spoons, and spatulas. Plastic may contain petrol which can interfere with the frothing and peaking of your egg whites, for instance. Use a metal or a glass bowl instead. Mix with wooden or silicone spatulas.
Taking Measurements for Granted
There is a reason baking is considered part-art and part-science. Here’s the science of it – measure your ingredients properly using measuring spoons and cups for more accurate proportions, thereby multiplying your chances of successful baking.
Making Assumptions about Substitutions
This is a big no. Many a time, people assume it is okay to substitute one ingredient with another without understanding the science of it. For example, never make the (common) mistake of using baking powder in place of baking soda. Do follow your recipe to the letter for prefect results.
Over-mixing the Batter and Dough
Be mindful of how much you mix, beat, and knead the batter or dough. Overmixing it could lead to a more glutinous finished product and you can be stuck with a chewy, cracked, or tough cake. As far as possible, mix the ingredients until they have just combined.
Not Sifting the Flour
This is a very important step, but unfortunately, it is often considered trivial. Sifting can help resolve clump formations in the flour, ensuring a lump-free cake. Apart from that, it also ensures an even rise of the batter when it is cooking.
Not Greasing the Baking Pan
Whether it’s a sweet or a savory dish you’re baking, greasing your baking pan before pouring in the batter is a must. It prevents your cake from getting stuck to the pan, helping it come off easily from it. That means a good-looking cake!
Not Using Parchment Paper
At times, it takes more than just greasing and flouring the baking pan to help the cake fall of it in a hassle-free manner, without sticking to the bottom or the sides. It is best to line your pan with parchment paper for a dense, moist cake.
Being Stingy with the Ingredients
If you want the taste, you will have to use good, high-quality ingredients generously when baking. Do not even think of compromising on the quality and quantity that go into baking a great recipe.
Not Understanding Your Oven
Have you ever noticed how the same temperature varies in different ovens? It is best not to depend on the oven temperature, and use an oven thermometer to get a clearer picture. This will prevent your dish from getting overcooked or remaining undercooked.
Repeatedly Opening the Oven Door
When you open the oven door, the inside temperature drops and has to heat up again, which takes time. Avoid opening the oven door before the prescribed time to ensure even cooking.
Using Ingredients at Wrong Temperatures
Sometimes, raw materials may need to be used at room temperature to be able to provide the desired result when baking. Conversely, many pastry recipes may require you to use cold ingredients to achieve the preferred texture. Do make it a habit to use ingredients at correct temperatures for a superior finished product.
Not Letting the Baked Items Cool Properly
Your baked item is bound to stick to your pan if you try to slide it out even when it hasn’t cooled adequately. Let it cool, but not all the way. Remove it while it’s still slightly hot and place it on a plate to cool it down completely. The air circulation will keep it moist. This especially applies to cupcakes and muffins.
Overfilling the Baking Molds/Pan
Overfill your baking pan with batter at your own peril, as doing so will lead to the rising and spilling out of it, resulting in a mess.
Not Smoothening the Top of the Batter
To make an evenly-baked, smooth, and an air- as well as mound-free cake, make sure you smooth out the top of the cake batter after pouring it into the pan.
Removing the Cake from the Oven Too Early
So how do know if your cake is done? Simply insert a clean knife or a toothpick into the center of your cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Always perform this test before removing the cake from the oven and allowing it to cool.
Not Reading through the Entire Recipe before Beginning
To avoid unpleasant surprises and twists in the tale during the baking process, make sure you read the entire recipe before you begin prepping for it.
Every ingredient that goes into baking cakes or other recipes has a purpose to serve. The raw material you use, the extent to which you mix your batter, the temperature at which you bake your dish, are all but a few of the many factors that can make a difference to the outcome. Do keep the above tips in mind for error-free baking.