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Best Practices in Baking

Baking is not only about skill and right ingredients but also about the right approach. Read some basic tips to make your baking ventures fruitful.

Every once in a while we get the urge to make something with our hands instead of buying it readymade from the shop. Baking can be a very meaningful and shared experience, if made into a group effort. Involve your kids in some stages of the baking process so that they can learn, have fun, and lend a helping hand—all at once. Here are some cooking tips that ensure that your day of baking will have a fruitful and tasty end.

Before you begin

  1. The road to a successful baking venture starts with preparation. The first step is to read the recipe thoroughly and understand the requirements and the ingredients that you will need.

  2. Gather all the ingredients in one place. Remember to check the expiry date of your ingredients before beginning. Take into consideration the temperature of the ingredients. Eggs yolks, for example, separate out well when cold but the whites of the egg whip well only at room temperature. If possible, pre-measure all the ingredients that will be needed and keep aside before the actual baking process. If ingredients like nuts need to be toasted, do so before the mixing of the final ingredients. This will allow the nuts to cool.

  3. Use metal measuring cups to measure dry ingredients and glass measuring cups to measure liquids easily. Glass measuring cups are known to be easier and more accurate when it comes to measuring liquids as they can be easily seen. Equipment such as an oven racks, baking mitts, and cooling racks should be kept ready for when the baking begins. Pre-heat the oven for 10-15 minutes. Once the cake or baked product is done, let it cool for 10-15 minutes before trying to release it from the pan.

  4. Wash your hands in warm water for 20 seconds with soap prior to any baking. Dry your hands well with a towel. Ensure that your hair is tied back or use a hair net to ensure that you do not have any unwanted hair or dandruff dropped unintentionally into your ingredients.

  5. Ensure that your work area is clean. This may require cleaning or sanitising the kitchen counter with bleach. When storing eggs, ideally keep them in their cartons rather than using the refrigerator rack. This helps keeping them fresh.

  6. The environment also affects certain preparations. For example, if you want to melt chocolate, you would do good to choose a cool and dry day. Humidity causes chocolate to tighten up, and become stiff and grainy. Chocolate pieces should be broken into small pieces before melting to speed up the melting process. Chocolate melting for toppings should be done with very low heat, in a heavy pan and with constant stirring.

The Baking Process

  • We all feel the urge to tweak the recipes from time to time. This is definitely a no no, as each ingredient is proportionately measured. Be careful when substituting baking pan sizes because a different size may have an effect on baking time.

  • While baking, remember to turn the pan to give an even bake. This is necessary for ovens that do not have an automatic turntable.

  • Do not overcrowd the oven with pans. The more pans in an oven, greater the possibility of uneven baking due to lack of proper heat dissipation.

  • Apart from relying on the recipes time guide, use your nose and instincts to figure out if something is burning. In fact, it is better to slightly undercook a recipe than to risk burning it.

  • A cake is well baked when the top springs back slightly when pressed in the centre. Another test is a knife or toothpick piercing that comes out dry.

After you are done

  • Clean utensils as you proceed through the baking process. Soak utensils in warm water to clean away any baking dough easily.

  • Cool the cake completely on a wire rack before attempting to store it anywhere.
Now get your family together and bite into those delicious homemade bakes. Mmmm…fruits of your own labour definitely turn out very tasty.

Does the average Indian family delve into baking often? Do you feel that there are no good baking recipes that suit the Indian palate? To share your views and experiences, click here.

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