Additional Baking Tips

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

Photos of items for More Baking TipsAdditional Baking Tips are a few more things I have found to enhance your baking.  If you spend enough time doing anything, I think it is inevitable that newer, better or faster ways will be found without sacrificing quality.

Much of the success of my bakery was due to the fact that I was always on the lookout for anything that would make the product faster, easier or better without compromising the integrity. If one of my employees found a better way to do something, I couldn’t be happier.

While these items are in my cupboard, there are others just as good.  I am not particularly endorsing any of them.

Here are  additional baking tips I have discovered that I think might help you.

    1. Sift cake flour and cocoa before adding to other ingredients. Both of these lump like crazy. What is worse not all of the lumps come out with whisking or when mixing in the batter. I usually sift the flour directly into mixing bowl wherever it is called for in the recipe. Also, baking powder and baking soda can lump if subjected to moisture.  These also need to be sifted into the flour so they combine uniformly throughout the batter.Cocoa and Flour for A Few Additional Baking Tips

This doesn’t mean you have to drag out that old triple sifter, just use a strainer and it will do the same thing.Container of cake flour for Additional Baking TipsContainer of cocoa for Additional Baking TipsCake flour and cocoa sifted for Additional Baking Tips

  1. Vanilla and coffee enhance the taste of chocolate. However a little goes a long way, especially the coffee. I often add one or both to a chocolate recipe that does otherwise call for them.Coffee and vanilla for More Baking Tips
      1. Softened or room temperature butter. This wordage can sometimes be misleading and cause problems. I use the word “softened” because my room temperature can swing considerably depending upon the season. My ideal temperature for softened butter, is72 degrees. It will still seem rather firm but will combine well with sugar, eggs or other ingredients without the mixture become too soft. I have seen suggestions of 65 to 68 degrees. However, at this low  temperature the butter will not combine well. When beaten with sugar, it has a sandy consistency and will not become “light and fluffy” without mixing it for an exorbitant amount of time.Butter for Additional Baking Tips
      1. When mixing flour into cakes or cookies, it should be mixed on low to avoid developing gluten which will toughen the product.  While we’re on the subject of flour, for any batter or dough to mix completely the bowl should be one half or, at the most, two thirds full.
      1. When making cookies with add in’s, save a little of them and stir them in when you get to the bottom of the bowl and there aren’t many there.Chocolate chips for More Baking Tips

6. Lemon Juice – I find I use more rind or zest from lemons than juice most of the time.  Rather   than get rid of the lemon, I juice it and freeze the juice in ice trays.  I then bag it in a freezer proof bag and have lemon juice whenever I need it.Tray of lemon cubes for Additional Baking TipsLemon and lemon juice cubes for Additional Baking Tios

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6 thoughts on “Additional Baking Tips

  1. Rockyrd

    Hi Helen,
    Thanks, as always all good info.
    Yes! On # 4 . I see people using tiny little bowls to hand mix things. Dough falls out of them onto the counter or not all of the flour gets mixed in cause its flying out.
    I would rather use a bowl much bigger than the job requires. I figure I have to wash it anyway, so why not make it easier?
    If I am using the mixer bowl and have a lot to do, I will divide it into halves or thirds then mix and combine together. Like for instance, cookies with lots of additions- choc chips, nuts, dried fruit, coconut etc
    Any suggestions about that?
    I am forwarding this to my baking pals.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Rockyrd – Dividing a large batch is a great idea. Then you can get it mixed properly. At the bakery we used to make a lot of almond macaroons in the food processor. We would process one batch after the next without cleaning the bowl in between, adding them to a single bowl to pipe out.

  2. Marianne Ward

    I look forward every week to your recipes and commentary. Always very informative. Today I read what you had to say about the different types of flours commonly used. It happens I made a buttermilk sandwich loaf for the first time and substituted KA bread flour for ap flour thinking it wouldn’t make a difference. When it started spilling out over the edges of the 3x4x9 loaf pan I didn’t know what I had done wrong. Then I came across your comments about the different types of flour and I had my answer. The bread is delicious, light and flavorful, but next time I’ll make two smaller loaves or use a bigger pan.

    I’m catering an art gallery reception in two weeks and plan to make and serve your opera bars. I’ll let you know how they turn out. I can’t wait to make them.

    Thank you. Marianne, Modesto, Ca.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Marianne: Flour is tricky. And KA flour is all higher protein than Pillsbury or Gold Medal so I can only imagine how much your bread rose.

      The L’Opera petit fours are hands down my favorite sweet of all times. I could easily eat half the batch by myself. I am so shamelessly in love with them, I ate them out of the freezer.

      I’ll be looking forward to hearing how they went for you.

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