Whether you’re a seasoned baker or just starting, there’s always a room for improvement when it comes to baking. Here are a few tips, tricks and activities you can try to develop your skills and create better cookies, cakes, pastries and breads.
Use Quality Ingredients (at the Right Temperature)
Don’t settle for low-quality goods – the cook indeed matters, but at the end of the day, “No combination of bad eggs has ever made a good omelette”.
Quality ingredients should also be utilised properly for the best results. While it might be quicker to use eggs and butter straight out of the fridge, cold ingredients might result in overspreading and uneven cooking – not to mention it is way more difficult to mix in chilled eggs and rock-hard butter in the dough!
Follow the Recipe Properly
While it might be tempting to skip steps or ditch the scale, baking is a form of science. Skipping steps that might seem unimportant will provide you with non-optimal results. For example, if you skip folding in butter and sugar before adding eggs (and just mix them altogether at the same time), your pastry will end up heavy rather than fluffy. This is where the importance of trial and error becomes clear – if following the recipe completely doesn’t give you the best result, it’s time to modify it or try a better recipe.
Understand Your Material
If you have mastered the ability to follow a recipe to a T, it’s time to learn what function each ingredient serves in the baking process. There is a lot to study about the chemistry between different ingredients and the processes, equipment and tools needed to make the best baked goods. You can learn more about this by reading up on blogs and cookbooks as well as taking professional lessons at a culinary school.
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. “Bake. Every. Day,” award-winning pastry chef Jenny McCoy told Kitchn. “Bake the same thing over and over until you get it just right. And when it doesn’t come out as well as you would like, remember that failure is just an early attempt at success.”