Baking is a delicate process where every detail matters, from temperature and ingredients to techniques and other tricks of the trade. From the baking experts at Ne-Mo’s, here are the most common baking mistakes that every baker can easily avoid:
1. Don’t bake at the wrong temperature
If a recipe calls for you to bake at a certain temperature, keep in mind that not all ovens are the same in terms of heating power. You need to make sure that you bake your goods at just the right temperature, so don’t rely on the number displayed on the oven. For a more accurate temperature, use an oven thermometer, which will guarantee the best results every time. Also, never bake your items in a cold oven. Always make sure to preheat and wait until the oven reaches the correct temperature according to the directions.
2. Don’t bake with cold ingredients
When it comes to ingredients, a good rule of thumb is to keep them at room temperature unless the recipe says otherwise. According to Katie Askew from Reader’s Digest, cold ingredients can ruin an otherwise delicious batch of cookies: “Take sugar as an example. When mixed into room temperature butter to make cookie dough, its jagged edges carve out tiny air pockets in the butter. These air pockets allow the baking powder or baking soda…to expand and create a light texture. If the butter is too cold, the sugar can’t create those pockets as easily, which can affect the fluffiness of the end result.”
3. Don’t over-knead your dough
If you knead the dough for too long, your bread or pastry will turn out tough and unappetizing. Alternatively, if you don’t knead it long enough, your bread loaves will have a doughy and undercooked texture. Bread baking experts at Red Star Yeast suggest kneading the dough until it is smooth on the outside and then springs back when you touch it.
4. Don’t skip the crumb coat
If you make this common baking mistake, your frosting will look crumbly with bits of cake stuck on it, or you might over-frost the cake, which will overwhelm the overall flavor. The editors at Cooking Light suggest starting with “a thin base-layer of frosting that holds loose crumbs in place so your frosting isn’t mixed with the crumb of the cake.”
After you finish frosting the cake, they recommend placing the cake in the freezer for 15 minutes, which helps set the crumb coat and also primes the next layers of frosting to spread smoothly and evenly. This extra step will give your cakes and pastries a pro decorating look.
5. Use the Right Type of Pan
Editors at The Spruce Eats advise using a light-colored baking pan to keep your cakes, pies, and cookies from burning. In fact, darker colors always absorb more heat and warm things up faster. When you want ingredients to brown, such as roasted vegetables or appetizers, darker pans are the best option. But for baked goods, a darker pan can cause them to over-cook and burn. If you’re using a dark pan, decrease the baking temperature by 25°F.
6. Wait Until Fully Cooled Before Cutting into Cakes or Bread
When you slice into a cake or loaf of bread straight out of the oven, it will release the greatest amount of steam, which is a sign of a significant amount of moisture loss. Once all the steam is let out, it can dry out your bread or pastries. It can also cause your delicate bread or baked good to tear apart, which makes for a messy presentation. Instead, be patient and let your baked goods get to room temperature before indulging.
7. Grease your pans properly
Nothing is worse than a Bundt cake stuck in the pan. To avoid this major baking disaster, go beyond cooking spray and also add butter, flour and parchment paper. Katherine O’Malley at Spoon University shares her fail-safe method: “For cake pans, I butter each pan, then put a circular parchment round down, then butter the parchment, then flour the pan…it always works perfectly.”
8. Don’t forget to sift dry ingredients
This extra step is essential if you want fluffy, chewy and absolutely delicious pastries and other baked goods. In fact, when it comes to powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and flour, they all have the tendency to get lumpy, but sifting helps smoothen the powdered texture to avoid any lumps in the mixture.
Baking can be a delicate process, but the extra effort is definitely worth it, especially when your home becomes filled with the intoxicating aromas of baked goods, the ultimate comfort food.
If you don’t have time for baking, you can still indulge in the taste of homemade goodness with Ne-Mo’s treats.