Baking tips and tricks

A table filled with plates of cookies from one of our Bake Club sessions.

I’ve got loads of helpful insights to share, even though I don’t consider myself a genius. As a chef and pastry chef, I’ve learned a lot form others and through my experiences. No matter what your field, experience always brings learning opportunities. So, I’m excited to pass on my knowledge to others.

Every other week at our beloved Bake Club, I often hear folks say, “I should’ve read the recipe first.” So let’s dive into the world of baking with some useful tips and techniques that’ll help you avoid the pitfalls and turn you into a baking superstar!

Classes if you are local (Melbourne) or Zooms from anywhere 🙂

Reading the Recipe: It’s a Must-Do First and foremost, take a few moments to read the entire recipe before you start. Trust me; it’s worth it. Doing this simple step can make the difference between baking success and a kitchen catastrophe.

Why You Should Read the Whole Recipe:

  1. Know your ingredients, method, and equipment. Don’t let a missing ingredient or the wrong equipment ruin your baking. Check the list and ensure you have everything you need before diving in. If you’re unsure about certain techniques or terms, do a little research before you start. You can consult a baking glossary, Google it, or even reach out to me at rebecca@becs-table.com.au. I’ll be happy to help you out!
  1. Be mindful of the time commitment, and consider the entire process, including;
  • Chilling or resting times for doughs and pastries.
  • Proving times for bread and yeasted doughs (like letting your sourdough work its magic overnight).
  • Cooling times, whether it’s in the tin, mould, or on a wire rack.
  • Setting times for items that need some fridge or freezer love.
  • If you’re short on time, you may need to pick a different recipe that fits your schedule better.

At Bake Club, we share tips to help work around some of these time constraints, but there are certain steps you just can’t skip. So, embrace the process and get organised before you start. These simple tips and techniques will up your game.

If you don’t have the time, you may need to choose another recipe.

Doe butter and eggs need to be at room temperature for baking?

Butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.

Pay close attention to your recipe and ensure your ingredients are at the temperature it recommends. If it calls for softened ingredients, take them out of the fridge 30 minutes before you start baking (depending on your location) so they can reach the desired temperature and consistency. If you’re eager to start baking immediately, there are ways to soften your butter, but be cautious not to overdo it.

For those who want to bake with fridge-cold butter, resist the temptation to heat it. If your recipe calls for “room temperature” butter, it doesn’t necessarily mean it should match your room’s temperature. I know it’s a confusing term; I’d prefer to call it “creaming consistency”. Melting or softening butter too much can lead to disappointing results. Hearing some of the tips that get passed on makes me cringe sometimes.

In many recipes (i.e. Butter Cakes), the first step is to cream the butter and sugar together. Achieving a light and fluffy texture won’t be possible with overly softened butter. If your butter is too soft when making a butter cake or most cookies, they may turn out heavy, greasy, and potentially separated. If you’re using a stand mixer and your butter is very cold, grating it beforehand can make creaming it much easier. Check out this post if you have issues with oily cakes or cupcakes.

For Thermomix owners, using cold butter straight from the fridge for many recipes can actually be beneficial. The Thermomix processes ingredients quickly, so butter cakes and similar recipes often emulsify better with fridge-cold butter. Just make sure to cut the butter into small cubes. I’ve created a standard method for this in my Thermomix Butter Cakes Online Course that includes a template so you can adapt or create your own recipes.

If you have a Thermomix and struggle with butter cakes or similar recipes, you might want to learn more about the science behind baking to improve your skills. Our Perfect Butter Cakes courses provide detailed information on using butter, with separate methods for Thermomix and stand mixers. These courses will help you understand what each step should look like and make butter cakes foolproof in your Thermomix.

Remember, knowledge is power. By understanding the science behind baking and how ingredients like butter affect the outcome, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better baker.

I go over the butter subject in detail in our Bake Club Series, where you can choose Thermomix or Standmixer options because, yes, I’ve created a method that is different for the Themomix; it explains what you need to do and what each step should look like. This course makes butter cakes foolproof in your Thermomix.

Here are some baking tips if you are short on time…

If your butter is too cold?

So here are a couple of methods we use at Bake Club all the time for traditional recipes made in a stand mixer.  Firstly we have an intelligent 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 at my home.   But if you don’t have a smart Breville microwave, 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 temperature by the time you’ve finished grating it.

Shavings of butter using a grater.

Do you need to rest the pastry dough?

In short, Yes; If you’re short on time and your recipe calls for a 30-minute rest in the fridge, consider using the freezer for 15 minutes instead. While not ideal, this quick fix will work for most recipes without compromising the end result. We often use this approach at Bake Club, as we only have a two-hour window to complete our creations.

However, be cautious when placing hot items in your freezer. Ensure that doing so won’t raise the overall temperature to unsafe levels, as this could spoil other stored food. Your fridge or freezer’s efficiency plays a crucial role in maintaining the appropriate temperature, so be mindful of its capabilities before opting for this time-saving method. Happy baking!

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