Hudson’s Essential Tips to Baking your Best!
A Beginner’s Guide
Here at Hudson Essentials, we have created our products with chefs, bakers, and home cooks in mind. Moreover, we thought it was time to take this relationship with our customers to the next level. Not only will you be able to peruse and purchase our kitchen tools, but we’re giving you some guidance to help you through the many hurdles that may come up while you experiment in your own kitchen.
Naturally, as we provide precise measuring tools, we figured we would start with something that seems to stump so many home chefs—BAKING! Not to be feared, but to be enjoyed!
Let’s get Baking!
No need to be afraid of the B word. Baking is a funny thing--it’s both seen as an intimidating science to perfect, and something that anyone with a little butter, sugar, and flour can master. The truth is, it can be all those things and more. With a bit of practice, the right set of tools, and a lot of tasting, you can find your way to at least one or two signature baked goods that can be whipped up in any hosting emergency. Heck, with enough practice you might even come to love it! Your taste-testers certainly will!
There are three keys to good baking: Preparation, Precise Measurements, and Temperature Consideration
Always be Prepared!
Mise en place. There’s a reason why cooking and baking instructors will frequently toss around this French phrase. It means everything in its place. If you have all your tools and ingredients ready for you to use when you need them, then you’re less likely to make a mistake.
Read it and then re-read it. If you thoroughly read through the recipe once or twice, not only will it be easier to follow while you’re going through, but you’ll notice if you’re missing anything before you start the process. This way you can make a trip to the store before you’re covered in flour!
A well-prepared baker is a calm baker.
Precision is Key.
Baking is a science.
Just remember chemistry class—if the measurements weren’t right, then something might explode! Luckily, if something explodes while you’re baking, it usually just creates a delicious mess. However, this shouldn’t scare you off from doing it, if you’ve done the prep and you follow the instructions, you’ll have all the right measurements and temperatures, and you’ll be on your way to an excellent finish for your meal!
Flouring with Finesse.
When it comes to baking, the exact amount of ingredients you use is as important as what you’re measuring. We’ve found that one of the biggest questions our customers have is about flour—it’s the most common baking ingredient and yet the most likely to be measured incorrectly. Most people assume they can scoop flour directly into their bakes with their measuring cups and spoons, but this will result in significantly more flour than your recipe calls for. For the correct amount, start by fluffing the flour with a spoon or scoop of some sort. After fluffing, gently spoon the flour into the proper measuring cup until it overflows and level off the top. No need to pack or tap the measuring cup.
Size matters in the oven.
The other measurement that you must be considerate of is that of your baking dish—when a recipe calls for a specific sized dish, it’s essential to use that size. Changing the size will mean that the ingredient distribution, baking times, and oven temperatures may be off. The good news is that most of the common-sized dishes are very easy to find and are often labeled with their measurements.
Turn up the Heat—or Don’t.
The final piece of the baking puzzle is all about temperatures. While you’re reading through your recipe, you want to make sure you take notice of anything that refers to temperatures and highlight them.
Bring your fats to the room.
You should assume that if a recipe calls for butter, eggs, milk, cheese, or anything similar, they should be at room temperature. If a recipe calls for something to be cold or ice cold then you want to be sure that they are, in fact, cold. Broadly speaking, this will impact the way that the dry and wet ingredients bond and will change your final result. The same is true if you’re to add melted butter to your dish—don’t just use warm butter. The other ingredients will know the difference.
Don’t forget to preheat.
It may be easy to disregard the instruction to preheat your oven—you might think that it doesn’t matter if you’re going to be cooking your dish in the heat anyway. But, as you shouldn’t use warm butter when you’re asked to used cold butter, you don’t want to put your dish into an oven that’s not hot enough to start the cooking process as soon as it gets there. Instead of cooking, things will start melting, and who wanted to serve melted goods?!
Trust the clock.
Once your dish is in the oven, it can be hard to resist checking on this new creation of yours. However, you want to keep that oven door shut. Every time you open it, you let some of the heat out, changing the temperature inside. If you’re concerned about the actual temperature inside your oven, then you might want to invest in an oven thermometer so that you know its true temperatures.
Practice Makes Perfect.
Finger-licking homework. Finally, the best way to learn any new skill is to try, try again. Most of us don’t know how to make the perfect dinner on our first try, so we shouldn’t expect to be the best bakers on our first pie! If you would like to serve something sweet at your next dinner party, fundraiser, or Friday night, then practice the recipe first. Moreover, if you nail it on the first go, then your family, neighbors, or co-workers will surely be happy to help you finish off the final product. OK—they’ll probably be glad to help even if it’s not perfect!
This is just the beginning.
Once you’ve got these three essential skills down, and you’ve made some baked greats, then you may be ready for some more culinary chemistry. Be sure to follow along as we offer more tips for the growing, learning baker within!