Tag Archives: baking tips

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. Continue reading

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.

Ten Ways to Become a Better Baker

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

Strawberry Rhubarb PieBecoming a better baker is a matter of patience and repetition,  but there are practices that will help speed the process.  Here I have listed some that I hope will help you – even if it is just one thing you may need to work on to become the baker you always wanted to be.

1.  Read the recipe from  start to finish.  Make sure you have all of the ingredients without substituting.

2. The first time you make a new recipe make it exactly as it is written.  It’s fine to change raisins to dried cherries or use dark brown sugar instead of light.  However, if it calls for buttermilk, don’t substitute regular milk.

3. If you want to change the recipe, change one thing at a time.  If you change more than one you will not know which one worked, or didn’t work. Continue reading

Sharing 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.
Miniature Wedding Cakes

Miniature Wedding Cakes by Truffes,Inc.

With the start of the new year, I like to take a few days off to plan the upcoming year.  Actually, I have been doing this for several weeks, but a few days of leisure helps me put it all into prospective.

I have an ambitious plan for the year – I’ll see how much I get into practice.  In addition to this blog, I blog for a local magazine, appear regularly on TV and am the pastry chef for Tony’s – the most acclaimed restaurant in St. Louis.  In fact, I am very proud that we have recently been named one of America’s top 100 restaurants.

But I digress.  To give you something to think about while I ruminate , I’ve collected some sites that offer baking tips I think would interest you.  Please disregard the pan preparation tips they give and stick to the Cake Pan Prep for Flat Cake Layers here.  These have been selected as  each baking tip has something to say the others didn’t so there isn’t a lot of repetition.

If you have a particular baking tip you would like to share, please post it in the comment section.  I know we would all love to hear them.

I wish for all of you  the very best in  2014 and that it will be your best year yet!  Baking and otherwise!

http://sweetapolita.com/2010/11/50-tips-for-baking-better-cakes/ – This is an ambitious 50 tips for baking better cakes.

http://whatscookingamerica.net/Cake/bakingtips.htm – Nice collection of basic baking rules.

http://allrecipes.com/howto/top-10-cookie-baking-tips/ – Especially for cookie makers.  This has some useful cookie tips.

http://southernfood.about.com/od/cakerecipes/a/cake_tips.htm – Some useful information not addressed by others

http://www.cookinglight.com/cooking-101/techniques/cake-baking-00412000067467/page12.html – I like Cooking Light magazine because they are the only consumer magazine that gets baking.  They use scales, and other good baking techniques and write their recipes with weights.  They have a particularly good tip, “How to factor in Higher Altitude.  Although I don’t live in a high altitude area, I learned what to do if I did.  For those of you who do, you will find this particularly interesting and helpful.  It is their number 10 tip out of 10.  All are interesting however.

http://sherisilver.com/2011/03/03/baking-basics-my-top-ten-tips-and-tricks/- I  found two tips here that bear mentioning.

“10. I came across this muffin/cupcake do-ahead tip over 20 years ago and it is, hands down, my favorite: line your tins with foil cups. Follow the recipe, fill the tins and place the unbaked muffins in the freezer. When frozen, pop them out and store in ziploc bags. Note the item, oven temp and baking time (as well as the date) on the bag. You can now make as few or many freshly baked muffins as you like – a lovely treat on a weekend morning or after school. Pre-heat the oven according to the recipe, place the frozen muffins in the tins and bake for 10-15 minutes longer than suggested. As in tip #9, fill the empty cups half-way with water to ensure even heating.

9. One of my favorite baking tools is my mini-loaf rack. Often, a pound cake or tea bread recipe is more than I need for the occasion – a friend coming for tea or a thank you for a neighbor. Here’s an easy conversion that yields several small loaves for the price of one: a recipe calling for a 9×5 loaf pan will yield 3 mini loaves, and one using an 8×4 pan will yield 2. If you are not filling all the pans on the rack, fill the empty pans halfway with water to ensure even heating all around. These mini loaves freeze well and are so nice to have at the ready.”

I also like King Arthur Flours site, http://www.kingarthurflour.com  but they push their products so aggressively and suggest adding products they sell to recipes that I don’t think are necessary for home bakers to achieve excellent results.