I am receiving too many questions regarding baking, so I decided it is high time to do a separate post on baking tips for beginners. I am not a professional baker or an expert in baking but will share with you what I know and what I learn't from my personal experiences and from various books on baking.
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1.Measurement is very important in baking. Use standard measuring cups and spoons.Also you can invest in a small kitchen scale for weighing ingredients. For example if the recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, do not tightly pack the cup with flour, instead lightly spoon it and level if off with a knife.So stick to correct measurements.
2.Before you start to bake, read the recipe 2-3 times and see if you have all the ingredients. Keeping all the ingredients ready will save you a lot of time,energy and mess. Neatly spread a newspaper on the kitchen platform as it saves the trouble of cleaning the kitchen platform after baking.
3.Bring all the ingredient to room temperature.Keep all the ingredient ready an hours before you start baking to bring it to room temperature.
4.Use fresh ingredients. Using old stock maida (all purpose flour), baking powder will not give you desirable results.Get good quality brands.
5.Prepare the pan before starting.Grease and flour the pan. Grease and flour means take a little melted butter or oil and spread it all over the pan and dust it lightly with flour. Alternatively you can line the baking tray with parchment paper as this will help to remove the cake easily from the pan when it has been baked.Cleaning also becomes easier.
6.If you are using dry fruits or nuts, mix it with a little flour and keep it ready. This is done so that the nuts and fruits will not go and settle at the bottom of the cake.
7.Always preheat the oven before mixing the dry ingredients as once you mix the maida, you have to bake immediately otherwise the cake will become hard. Normally I preheat my OTG oven at 180 Degree C for 10 -15 minutes unless otherwise mentioned.
8.Don’t over mix once the dry ingredients are added. Just fold it gently with a wooden spatula.If using an electric mixer, mix in very low speed until incorporated.
9.Use the middle rack for baking unless otherwise specified in the recipe.
10.Avoid opening the oven door frequently due to curiosity when the cake is baking as the cake will sink.
11.Avoid over baking.Once the baking time is over, check the cake by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cake and if it comes out clean, then the cake is done otherwise bake for a few more minutes.
12.Cool the cake completely before frosting.
Solutions to some problems while baking cakes
Cake is dry - Cake is over baked or you have over mixed or over whipped the ingredients.
Cake stuck to the pan -You did not prepare the pan properly or you have removed the cake when it is too hot.
Cake did not rise - you have opened the oven door frequently thereby allowing hot air to escape or you have over mixed the ingredients.
Cake is not soft - you have to bake immediately after mixing the dry ingredients.If you keep it for a long time, the cake will not be soft.
Cake is soggy - It will be soggy, if you leave it to cool for a long time in the pan.
Cake did not cook properly or cracked - Oven temperature must have been too low.
Readers can add any new tips, they have learn't from their experience in the comments section, so that it will be useful for many newbies out there.
Finally do not give up if you have failed once or twice, with practice you will soon learn the art of baking and enjoy it.
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