If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, it’ll come as no surprise when I tell you that my abilities to make cakes disappear if a lot better than making them appear. This however, doesn’t mean I stay away from the kitchen as much as possible. In fact, on the off chance I’m not in there, pretty much sitting in the cupboard munching away on something, I could very well be standing in front a mixture of flour and butter, trying to pretend what I’m making will be desirable (edible).
Previously, if the product of my creation didn’t collapse, it was of a very average level; it wasn’t going to start me a baking Instagram account with thousands of followers, but it wasn’t going to kill me. I started thinking about this after spending a considerable amount of time staring at chocolate cake I’d made and wondering what Betty does that I don’t. What takes Mrs. Crocker’s creations from year 5 bake sale to mouth-watering moisture? So, I did what any normal person in the 21st century would do and asked my good friend Google.
Google, usually I love how much information you can give me and that with you in my life there is a world of knowledge a mere click away. However, this time you just filled my screen with thousands of articles saying the same things, things I already knew. I didn’t want the simple tips, such as ‘Wash up all your bowls and spoons as you go’. I could’ve guessed that. Also, boring. No, I wanted the King of tips, the tips that the contestants on The Great British Bake off give you as they whisk away and talk into the camera as if they’re not annoyed by the distracting mic hanging dangerously close to their pavlova. I can’t write these tips down as they say them because, let’s be honest, watching all those goodies be baked into existence, my sweet tooth starts stirring and my hands are thus preoccupied with some chocolate bar or bowl of ice cream, probably both.
Anyway, I decided to do some serious detective work and have manage to compile a list of twelve baking tips that I reckon Betty C would be proud of.
1, Use room temperature ingredients. This makes the mixture fluffier and stops the ingredients ‘seizing’ together, meaning they don’t mix properly.
2. Prepare everything. This is super fun because feel like you’re making a Buzzfeed Tasty video with all those little bowls, it stops youforgetting things and it’s quicker. Triple threat this one.
3. It also brings me to the next point. When wet ingredients are mixed with dry ingredients, the ingredients start reacting with each other. Therefore, don’t put them all together and then go faff elsewhere. No, mix straight away and leave the batter for a just few moments just before baking to ensure it all mixes and fuses together
4. Do. Not. Rush.You will make mistakes – I’ve proven that point myself.
5. Let your cake cool before icing. This means the cake has settled and the icing wont melt straight off turning your cute smiley faces into terrifying snarls. You can even put it into the fridge to speed up the process.
6. When the cake has cooled, add a crumb layer – a very thin layer of icing that before you put on the main icing. Think of it like your primer before your foundation. This stops the crumbs from crumbling and bulging through the icing, messing up thatflawless fondant
7. Preheat the oven. Turns out, heat has to be built up and it’s not like press on button, wham 200-degree heat. Probably a good thing, thanks physics, but it means you have to think ahead so your cake is cooking away at just the right temperature to create that fluffy outcome we so desire and not a sticky, undercook in the middle, burnt on the outside mess because the temperature was not right.
8. Use the right typesof sugar and flour. Seems straight forward enough, but apparently, cake flour, pastry flour and all-purpose flour are all different. Therefore, you might need to add extra things to a recipe if you’re using a different ingredient to the one called for.
9. Eggs should be added one at a time and should be completely beaten in before the next one is added. This is to allow the creamed butter and sugar mixture to hold onto its trapped air.
10. Chilling cookie doughbefore baking allows the fat to solidify (ew) to stop cookies turning from 12 cute little balls into one big giants fused cookie.
11. Sift. No one likes lumps. And this isn’t just flour, by the way, I told you no simple tips. No, I’m talking cocoa powder, baking powder. Anything that can fit through a sieve should pass through a sieve.
12. Ever tried to make something like a blueberry cake but when you excitedly take it out of the oven, all you’re greeted with is a sad sponge with a soggy layer of fruit at the bottom? Well, before adding nuts or berries to a mixture, lightly toss them in flour before you add them into the batter to ensure they stick in place and you can enjoy them all the way through the cake.
I hope these tips help and I can certainly say my bakes have benefitted from taking a little bit more time to think about why and how I’m doing something. Let me know how you get on and yes, I will be accepting samples of baked goods through the post. My favourite are white chocolate and raspberry muffins. Thanks, in advance.