Pretty much every fortnight at Bake Club I hear someone say “I know, I should have read the recipe first”, The first, and possibly the most important thing to do before you start to bake is to read through your recipe. I’ll let you in on how to prevent some simple Baking Mistakes.
It isn’t hard, it doesn’t take long, and I promise it will be well worth the time. It can make the difference between success and failure in the kitchen.
So, take a few minutes and read
Check the ingredients, method and equipment you need .
- There’s nothing more frustrating than getting halfway through making and realising you don’t have a particular ingredient or not enough of it. Depending on the stage your at and what you’ve already mixed together, you may have mucked it up in the time it takes to run to the shops.
- Take note of any specific mixing methods or techniques and make sure you have the equipment you need. Best not to start a recipe if you don’t have the kit for it or understand the methodology.
- These days I’m finding a lot of chefs will use technical terms in their methods, now’s the time to refer to a baking glossary or google to find out exactly what they mean. Or of course, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, but Google may be quicker if you want to bake right now. I may not be sitting at my PC.
Is there a process or step involved that’s going to add to the overall time it will take you to make and bake your recipe? Do you have the time?
These could include
- Standing or chilling times. Some biscuits or pastries need time to be chilled before continuing. Check out my biscuit making post to find out more.
- Or Proving times for making bread, or yeasted doughs
- At the end of baking, maybe the item needs to left in the tin or mould to cool before removing.
- Or after removing from the tin or mould, it may need to be completely cooled before adding icing, ganache or chocolate decoration and so on.
- Some recipes need some time to be set in the fridge or freezer.
If you don’t have the time, you may need to choose another recipe.
At Bake Club, we have some tips where we work around some of these issues, but others just need to be adhered to.
- Do the butter and eggs need to be at room temperature or softened?
If so, take them out of the fridge now, so they have a chance to reach the desired temperature or consistency before you need to use them. You can take them out the night before (depending on the weather), but if you’re like me, last night you didn’t think you’d be baking today.
If you want to bake and you’ve got fridge temperature butter, DO NOT HEAT IT, if your recipes state “room temp” it means room temp. Room temperature is somewhere between 20° and 22°c. When you melt butter or it is too soft, you change the chemical structure, and you won’t achieve the results you’re looking for. If you’re using a stand mixer and your butter is really cold, grate it, it will cream a lot easier this way.
If you own a Thermomix it’s a different story. I’ve heard too many Thermomix owners say “just pop it in your TM and blitz on 37°c for a minute”. I’m not sure where they got that from, but 37°c is not room temp. While I’m on the Thermomix subject, I actually prefer to have my butter cold from the fridge for most recipes. The Thermomix processes cake batters so fast that when your making butter cakes and the like, you’ll find they’ll emulsify much better when your butter is straight from the fridge. Just make sure you cut the cubes small though. If you have a Thermomix, do this, and you’ll be pleased with the results. I occasionally do a “Butter Cakes For Thermomix owners” class, where I let you in on all my TM cake tips.
A Couple of Bake Club tips
So here’s a couple of methods we use at Bake Club all the time for traditional recipes. Firstly we have a smart microwave at the cooking school; it has a “soften butter mode”. We use it a lot because it literally just softens. Clever hey! I love this microwave so much I have one in the cooking school and in my home. But if you don’t have a Breville “The Quick Touch” another way is to grate your butter. Yes, grate it, use a fine grater and spread it out a little on baking paper. Your butter will be at room temp in no time.
If you need to rest a dough
If you want to make something quickly and your recipe states rest in the fridge for 30 mins, try the freezer for 15. It’s not the ideal, but for most recipes, it will work just fine. We have to follow this in Bake Club because of the time we have to get everything done. I suggest if you’re putting something hot in your freezer make sure you’re not going to bring the overall temperature of the rest of the food down. This may be unsafe depending on what you have in there and how much room you have.