Baking Tips for the Upcoming Holidays

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2017. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Photo for Baking Tips for the Upcoming HolidaysI feel like the internet when they can’t find something – “Well, this is embarrassing…..”  Well that’s me this week.  I promised you the Pina Colada cake but it is TV week so you are getting baking tips from my segment.  While I will be demo-ing only four of these, there are a whole lot more.  I  may have posted some of these baking tips before, but my TV audience hasn’t seen them.

So please forgive my lapse of memory and look for the cake next week. And without further adieu, here is the list of baking tips. 

To Make Cake Flour –When cake flour is called for in a recipe and none is to be found in the pantry, remove 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour per cup and substitute 2 tablespoons cornstarch. Whisk together to combine completely. Use as called for.

To Make Self Rising Flour – Sometimes a recipe calls for self rising flour. I don’t stock it in my kitchen and I bake a lot. It can easily be made by combining 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk together completely and use in the amount called for.

Measuring Flour – There are dry measures and liquid measures. Dry measures are meant to be filled to the very top for the correct amount. Liquid measures usually have a lip on them and they are marked with measurements. They are not usually filled to the top. The lip aids in pouring. Unfortunately, there are many ways to measure flour. In a professional bakery scales are used as the only true measure. Four ounces is always four ounces. However, many households don’t have kitchen scales so another method has to be found. However, with scales costing as little as $20.00 everyone should have one.  If you get a new baking book, check their index for the method they use. The most frequently accepted method is to stir the flour in its canister or bag, dip the dry measure cup in overfilling it and with the flat side of a knife or spatula, sweep off the excess. Whatever you do, do not tap the cup to level it or tamp it down. Too much flour will make for a heavy, leaden outcome at best, a failure at worst.

Parchment Paper – As a professional baker for over 25 years, I was very happy when I finally saw parchment paper on grocery the shelf. It is indispensable in a bakery. We used it to line all the pans so there is no need to grease and butter the baking sheets or cake pans. Simply tear off enough to cover a cookie sheet. If lining cake pans, no matter what shape, draw around the bottom of the pan on the parchment paper and cut out. Line the inside of the pan. It makes a world of difference in baking.

To Prevent Over browning of Cookies: Items made with brown sugar, honey, molasses or cornsyrup brown very quickly in the oven. Cookies, because they are small and relatively thin, can over brown or burn before they are finished. To prevent this, double pan each baking sheet. Simply put one cookie sheet on top of another and bake according to the directions. The double panning slows the heat to the bottom and although they usually take a few minutes longer to bake, they will be perfect when finished.

To Make Buttermilk or Sour Milk – To make a substitute for buttermilk or sour milk called for in a recipe, remove 1 tablespoon milk and add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of whole or 2% milk. It will probably curdle but that is fine.

Toasted Nuts – A great flavor boost when using nuts is to toast them. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, spread the nuts out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 7 to 12 minutes depending upon the nut. Be careful not to burn them. Toasted nuts make a world of difference in a baked product especially.

Cookie Add InsWhen making chocolate chip cookies, or any cookie with add ins, save about 1/3 cup chips out of the batter. When you get to the bottom of the bowl where there aren’t so many chips, stir them in.

Overwhipped Cream If you overwhip your cream, you can bring it back by stopping the machine as soon as you notice the cream is overwhipped and adding a bit more cream. Ok, so what is ”a bit”. It depends upon how much you started with and how overwhipped it is. Add the cream, mix on low. If you have turned it into butter, nothing will bring it back.

Lining a Pan with FoilTurn the pan upside down and form the foil over the upside down pan. Remove the foil gently in order to preserve the shape, turn the pan right side up and place the foil liner in the pan.

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Pastry has not only been my profession, but my passion. If there is anything in particular you would like to see or any questions about baking or pastry, please let me know. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a post.

2 thoughts on “Baking Tips for the Upcoming Holidays

  1. Manisha

    Very helpful tips indeed! I will be using self rising flour tip very soon :)

    Such simple things but can make hell lot of difference in the final product. One thing which fails me often is toasting the nuts. O jeez! How many times I have burnt them is unblievable. i feel really stupid about it as I keep repeating the mistake of over roasting them. Though I have found a good way of using the overbrowned (not burnt) nuts by making a praline of it, break them into tiny pieces and add them to yellow cake and no one will ever taste the over roasted Flavour.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Manisha: The praline is a great idea. More important is finding a use for them and not discarding the nuts. The advantage of a small kitchen is I am close to everything. Caramel is my nemesis. I get busy doing something while waiting for it to come to temperature and sometimes over do it.

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