How many times have you had grandiose holiday baking plans that include an elaborate pastry just to impress your in-laws, only to have one minor mistake ruin the whole mission? There is quite possibly nothing more upsetting. Holiday baking projects just seem to carry so much more weight than something you whip up in the middle of August. Who knows why, but it’s the case. So, naturally, every tip and trick you can get your hands on that will help you execute that perfect pie is a welcome suggestion.
Thankfully, there is one chef in San Antonio who has packaged the essential holiday baking tips into a simple list that is nearly foolproof. Mexico City-native David Cáceres Galicia grew up with breadmaking in his DNA. In 2014, he and his brother Jose moved to San Antonio and opened the popular bakery and café, La Panadería.
As an international traveler and classically trained pastry chef, David has gathered inspiration, and learned world-class baking techniques from bread masters from around the world. And he was kind enough to share some secrets.
Here are Chef David’s top 5 tips to help the home cook master the art of baking this holiday season.
1. Always use real butter.
Even if a recipe calls for lard, oil or margarine, always opt for real, high-quality butter. The results and taste are incomparable. He highly recommends using European-style butter if available.
It is typically churned longer and has slightly higher butterfat than traditional American butter.
2. Sifting is key.
Always use a sifter to blend your dry ingredients and eliminate those pesky lumps in your batter or dough.
3. Let pies sit overnight.
After letting pies cool to room temperature, put them in the refrigerator overnight. Letting your pies chill for 12-24 hours allows the flavors to settle and become more intense.
4. Silpain mats are a cookie’s best friend.
For the best possible results, cookies need to bake in a “dry” environment. Humidity is the enemy of cookies!
To create better air circulation and a higher quality cookie, I recommend using a perforated Silpain mat.
5. Be precise, and patient.
With baking, it is extremely important to measure and/or weigh all of your ingredients and follow your recipe to a T. Don’t try to change things up, especially if you’re new at it.
Also, be patient. Baking is supposed to be fun and the results are absolutely delicious. It definitely gets easier the more you do it!