I've come a long way in my baking journey. Looking back, I want to share some helpful tips that I've learned that will help you become a better baker!
I’ve come a long way in my baking journey. A long, long way.
Just a few years ago, I hesitated to make cakes from scratch, and I would shy away from making anything I hadn't attempted before. There is always room for improvement, and I will be the first one to admit that!
After going to pastry school, I now have a lot more confidence in my baking skills. However, I firmly believe that anybody can become an excellent baker—no school required. All you have to do is keep working on improving and seek out advice wherever possible.
To help with that, I have compiled a list of ten baking tips that I wish someone had told me a long time ago, and I hope that they might help you in your baking journey. These tips barely scratch the tip of the iceberg, so please let me know if you want to hear more!
1. Invest in a kitchen scale and use recipes with weights.
This helps improve the accuracy of the recipe and ensures a consistent product each time. I didn’t start doing this until I went to culinary school, but now I struggle to go back to using measuring cups. As a bonus, you also have less dirty dishes at the end! I really like to try a lot of recipes from King Arthur Flour, and you can choose to view their recipes in volume, ounces, or grams.
2. Get in the habit of doing your mise en place while baking.
The French word 'mise en place' translates to 'put in place,' and in a professional kitchen setting, it means to assemble and prepare ingredients and equipment before cooking. When you have all your ingredients prepared before you start baking, you become more efficient and ensure that you aren’t forgetting anything.
3. Bake everything on parchment paper.
Before I went to pastry school, I used to spray PAM on my sheet pans and bake everything like that, but I found that my baked goods always stuck to the pan and oftentimes burned easily. Parchment paper ensures easy release of the baked goods and helps yield a consistent product.
4. Invest in a digital food thermometer.
A digital food thermometer is an actual lifesaver, and I use one almost every day. From making Swiss meringue to caramel, it can give you an alert when you reach the desired temperature, which means you can spend the waiting time working on something else. It’s also really handy to have when you need to test the internal temperature of meat.
5. When you are making a recipe, really start to think about the science behind the baking.
As you are going along and making a particular recipe, think about why you are using baking powder or mixing the dough until just combined. As you start to understand what role each ingredient plays, you truly begin to understand the science of baking, and you reach a whole new level in your baking journey.
6. Clean as you go.
Whenever you find a lull in the baking process, take a minute to quickly clean up and wash any dishes that you can. Having a disorganized kitchen will only add to your stress, and your future self will appreciate you that much more.
7. Rotate your pans while baking items like cookies.
Rotating your pans helps ensure even baking, especially if you have an oven that likes to act up like mine. However, be careful not to open up the oven when baking items like cakes because this can cause them to collapse.
8. Always flour your work surface before rolling out dough.
Sprinkling a bit of flour on your surface can prevent the dough from sticking and helps ensure that you don’t waste any of the dough when rolling it out.
9. Prepare doughs in advance.
You can always make cookie dough or pie dough days in advance and freeze them to save you a lot of hassle later. This is a really helpful trick during busy times like the holidays!
10. Try everything!
When you are out at a bakery or restaurant, always make an effort to try different desserts and meals. Take note of the flavors you enjoy, and try to make recipes with those flavors at home. The more you learn what you like, the more inventive you will get in the kitchen.
I hope these tips have been helpful! In case you're interested, I have also made a video that explains these tips in more detail. Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think.