10 Simple Baking Tips to Help You Become a Pro Baker

Ah, baking. It's a fun hobby or career for some folks, but for others it's can be a chore. As a young girl, I guess you could say I was a natural in the kitchen. If I wasn't watching the next episode of Emeril Live on Food Network, I would be cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. However, I was passionate about baking. Whether it be whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough or meringues to homemade pie crust, that's how I wanted to spend my time as a kid.

Even if you don't consider yourself the greatest baker (hey, I still have a lot to learn too!) with a few helpful baking tips and tricks, you can feel more confident in the kitchen, especially when it comes to baking.

Check out some baking tips that are sure to make you a pro baker. And now that we have the holidays coming up, keeping these tips in the back of your mind will help you conquer holiday baking!

1. Mise en Place is Key

 

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I can't tell you how many times I heard the phrase Mise en place in college. Mise en place is a French culinary phrase which means "everything in its place" or "to put in its place". Sure it was super repetitive and I hate to say it, but even annoying at times, it's extremely important and makes for a more enjoyable baking experience.

Before you get started, make sure to have everything you need ready like: your ingredients at room temperature, measured out, baking sheets set, equipment ready to go, etc. If you have everything in its place before diving into the recipe, you're less likely to mess up and you'll feel more at ease and organized.

2. Read Through the Entire Recipe Beforehand 

It's one of the worst feelings when you're in the zone baking up a storm, but then the recipe calls for an ingredient you don't have on hand. Or you're in the middle of a recipe and it asks you to complete a step you're unsure of. Yikes!

Reading through the entire recipe at least one time will help you know exactly what you have to do. This extra step only takes a few extra minutes and will save you from a failed dessert.

3. Room Temperature Ingredients are Important 

When making your favorite cookie recipe or cake recipe, almost always the recipe calls for room temperature butter and room temperature eggs/egg whites. The reason why is room temperature ingredients are way easier to blend together rather than cold butter and cold eggs. It will also result in a smoother batter and a better texture to your baked goods.

I like to take out cold butter and eggs the night before, so they get to room temperature before I start baking the next day. I usually take out dairy products such as milk, heavy cream, or sour cream about an hour beforehand. If you forget to take out butter the night before, check out these tricks. If you forget the eggs, just run them under warm water for a few seconds.

4. Measure Ingredients Properly

As the saying goes, baking is a science, so that means measuring cups and measuring spoons are a big help. Keep in mind when you're measuring dry ingredients, it's best to use measuring cups or measuring spoons. With liquid ingredients, you want to use a glass or plastic measuring cup that's designed for liquid ingredients only.

Also, remember that when you're measuring dry ingredients like flour, cocoa powder, or powdered sugar, use a wooden spoon to gently scoop the ingredients into the measuring cup and then level it off with something flat like a bench scraper. This way is more precise and you'll avoid packing down the ingredients. Something like brown sugar, on the other hand, is an ingredient you want to pack down.

5. Invest in a Digital Scale

 

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One of my favorite kitchen gadgets is my digital scale. I still have the one they gave out in college and it's been going strong since then. Don't get me wrong, I still use my measuring cups and spoons from time to time, but I prefer using a scale since it's more accurate. 

My finished baked goods taste better and are more consistent when I use a scale. It's also less clean up for me-those measuring cups can be pretty tricky to clean! 

6. Buy and Oven Thermometer 

 

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I've just discovered we own 5 oven thermometers, seems excessive.

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We rely on our oven and the correct oven temperature when baking, but honestly, your oven isn't as accurate as it might seem. Turns out it can be completely off. Having an oven temperature that's a few degrees off can seriously affect your baked goods. 

Oven thermometers are inexpensive and sit right in your oven so you always know the exact temperature. Another tip to remember: take out cookies, layer cakes, brownies, cupcakes, and bars, a few minutes early since they do continue to bake once out of the oven. 

7. Don't Open the Oven Door

 

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I know it's hard and sometimes I can't resist watching my cakes rise, but opening the oven door while something is baking is not good. Every time you open the door, you let out heat which drops the oven temperature. This affects rising and the baking time. 

Instead, turn on the oven light or quickly take out the baked goods, test for doneness, and immediately put back in the oven if needed. 

8. Invest in Quality Bakeware 

 

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This one is super important. When you love to bake and you're pretty serious about it, even if you're just getting started, invest in some quality bakeware. Sturdy baking sheets, cake pans, a reliable mixer, Silpats, high-quality kitchen tools, and gadgets will give you a better baking experience and might just save your life in the kitchen (Silpats, I love you).

9. Sift Dry Ingredients 

 

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Cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and powdered sugar tend to settle in the bag or container and become clumpy, which can show up in the finished product. Sift dry ingredients so that doesn't happen. If you don't have a sifter, whisk the dry ingredients together. 

10. Don't Let Baked Goods Cool Off in the Pan

Like I mentioned before, I take out my baked goods a few minutes early to prevent dryness. I also allow them to cool off in the pan only for a short amount of time. For cookies and bars, about five minutes after they come out of the oven, I like to transfer them to a cooling rack. For cakes and quick bread, it's best to wait around eight to ten minutes. You want to make sure the structure of the cakes is stable enough to be able to flip out of the pan. If they're too hot, you'll risk them crumbling and falling apart. 

Watch: We Tried Vegan Food For the First Time

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