Those who loves baking and desserts would know that baking requires a lot of patience, plenty of reading and practice, practice, practice. That said, sometimes, some of the error made could have simply been avoided if you follow a few tips and techniques you sometime don’t see in recipes (book or videos). Here are 20 baking tips I collected from some of world’s best pastry chefs and celebrity bakers, to help you out in times of need (like.. when you cannot figure out why your choux looks like a mudcrack).
Some might say these tips are common sense, but believe it or not, when you first started venturing into the world of baking, you just don’t know what to expect! It took me 11 times of failed-shitty doughnuts attempts before I made a decent batch. So these baking tips and techniques will give you a lightbulb moment.
When mixing your ingredients during bread-making, always add the salt and yeast to opposite sides of the bowl as the salt can kill the yeast – Paul Hollywood
The most common mistake people make when attempting to make puff pasting is not getting the temperature of the dough and butter right: Both should be chilled when you fold them together – Dominique Ansel
If your meringue won’t or takes too long to stiff peaks, there are probably fat or oil residue on bowl, beaters or measuring cup. So before starting, clean equipment with warm soapy water, rinse and dry with clean paper towel. Avoid plastic bowls as they trap oil. – Adriano Zumbo
To create a thick and uninterrupted layer of icing, brush the cake mixture with a jam coating first.
This seals the cake and acts as a base for icing to be added, meaning a constant top level that doesn’t have bits of cake or crumbs lurking within – Mary Berry
Sometimes the top of a cake becomes brown before the center is cooked. To prevent this, check the cake three-quarters of the way through the cooking time and, if necessary, fit a protective circle of double greaseproof paper (with a hole about the size of a 50p piece in the center) over the top of the cake – Delia Smith
A digital thermometer is indispensable when making an Italian meringue to accurately measure the temperature of the sugar syrup – Pierre Hermé
Before baking cakes, breads and brownies, toast nuts to intensify their flavor. Spread nuts in an even layer on a baking sheet and toast in a 350-degree oven until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Do not brown or burn. – Martha Stewart
Ever wonder what temperature your baking ingredients should really be, since some recipes call for cold ingredients while others call for room temperature? Let your butter be your guide. If the recipe calls for room temperature butter (think pound cake, chocolate chip cookies, etc) then your other ingredients should also be the same temperature. If the recipe calls for cold of cool butter (scones), then so should your eggs and liquids – Anna Olson
Measure carefully. The worst thing you can do is approach baking like it’s cooking. While you might just toss in a little of this and a little of that when you’re making dinner, doing so when baking throws everything off. There’s a lot of physical and chemical reactions and you need to have proper ratios. Measure everything precisely and you’ll have great results. – Duff Goldman
Madeleines are simple to make, but can easily go wrong. So if you’ve never made madeleines before, it’s best to stick to the recipe, be very precise with all the ingredients. To get a great shape, chill your filled piping bag in the fridge. This is what’s done in restaurants – when you’re ready to serve, throw the mixture into the tin and into the hot oven, and five minutes later you’ve got fresh madeleines – Eric Lanlard
Freezing a freshly baked cake is one of the best things you can do. It seals in the moisture (cakes tend to dry out in the refrigerator) and if you plan to ice and/or decorate the cake, you’ll have an easier time because freezing will keep it firm. For optimum trimming texture, cakes should be frozen for one to two hours. Don’t try to trim a cake that’s hard as a rock because the knife can slip—be sure the cake has a little give to it before trimming – Buddy Valastro
To keep brown sugar soft, put sugar into a plastic container or similar and just put one or two marshmallows in with it. It will stay as soft as when you put it in. If sugar not used for ages the marshmallows will just dry out and you can replace with a fresh one – Nigella Lawson
Oven temperature is everything,A good oven thermometer is key. Oven temperatures may vary by as much as 50 degrees; rely on a stand-alone thermometer for accuracy instead.- Eric Kayser
When making shortcrust pastry for tart shell, make sure that the dough is not worked for too long, this is a possible factor which results in dough shrinkage during baking – Hidemi Sugino
When making jam/jelly which is thickened with pectin. It is important thing to note is how pectin is added into the boiling fruit mixture so that it doesn’t clump altogether from the heat – Cédric Grolet
Brioche dough should be made the night before intended use. It can be frozen and used at a later time. Dough is best to knead in small quantities by hand for 15 minutes – Gaston Lenôtre
When baking with chocolate, the best you can do is add as little additional sugar as possible so the chocolate stands out. Sugar is the enemy of chocolate! – Alain Ducasse
Recognise and understand the ingredients. Know the ingredient’s exact function in the process of baking – Janice Wong
Salt has a very important function in choux paste recipes.It helps avoid cracks. Generally, the more salt you add to the dough, the fewer cracks you will end up with in your éclairs (but not too much or you will end up with salty eclairs!) – Sadaharu Aoki
Piping doesn’t have to be a technique left to the professionals. The secret is to hold the bag completely upright and keep the pressure constant by twisting the top – Lorraine Pascale
If you feel like cookies, but you are lazy and cannot be arsed – cake mix is a great way to whip soft doughey- Subway like cookies. I tend to add stuff like choc chips, cornflakes , nuts, seeds and fruits to give it more ‘hold’. Since then, I never made my own recipes and people around me were just baffled to see how I always have beautiful, yummy and different flavoured cookies on tap at home all the times – Ida (not a pastry chef, just a lazy bum who loves all types of life hacks)
Some of the baking knowledge and tips I now know comes from baking school (my sister goes to pastry school, so I made her tell me). Knowing some of these tips helps tremendously, especially when you are about to f**k up your mixes or simply could not figure out why your goods didn’t turn out the way it was suppose to be. Most of the times, it is over the simplest error. My personal favourite dessert maker is Martha Stewart, bo-ring! some might say. But her videos, recipes and books provided some of the best baking and cooking insight and she is out there to teach, not just to create, hence I tend to get more value and better results out of watching her.
That said, I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it and eating desserts!