When my daughters were little and the summer break was just beginning to reach the end, I often found it was sometimes the hardest time to keep them busy and re-engage their minds. One of the ways I used to do this was by giving each of them one week in which they had to plan dinner for the week. That included grocery shopping (with myself, of course), taking the lead in meal preparation with supervision and help, as necessary, etc. It was quite an interesting insight into their personalities, as always, food is such a part of who you are, and what they chose certainly reflected that.
As they are MY children, dessert was always part of their meals; requiring much consideration, and it was a great way for me to teach them a lot of the basics in baking. (Though it has been constantly reinforced through out their lives, as I still get calls asking about this or that – much to my delight and occasional chagrin due to distance, when a wild disaster has occurred that needs salvaging).
Being inspired by the start of August and last few weeks of summer, I’ve decided to include in this blog some of my favorite baking tips that I think are essential to mastering the art of baking.
• Always make certain you have all of the necessary ingredients – Baking is not the place for random substitutions or “close enough.”
- Always read all the way through a recipe before beginning
- Clean as you go. This will help you immensely at the end.
- Creaming’ means with an electric beater beating the butter and sugar together, until it is soft and looks like mayonnaise
- For eggs and butter to come to room temperature: leave out overnight or when you leave for work/school in the morning & they’ll be ready for you when you get home later in the day
- Keep your hands as clean as possible! Wash,wash wash (sometimes after every step, if it’s a particularly messy recipe) NOTE: Never dry your hands or wipe your hands on the same towel you use for drying clean pots, pans, utensils, etc. Keep clean- clean! Never clean raw egg up off a counter with anything other an a paper towel. Raw egg rinsed out of a wash cloth and then used to wipe something down can still transfer bacteria / salmonella.
- Dry Measure & Liquid Measure
- Glass Measures are for wet ingredients including frozen or canned pureed fruits or vegetables as well as sour cream, cottage cheese, & ricotta cheese.
- Measuring cup sets = ¼ cup up to 2 cups are for dry ingredients and need to have the flour, sugar, etc. “Spooned” into them and then leveled
- Measuring has to be exact for a terrific outcome
- Measuring Spoons = ¼ teaspoon up to 2 Tablespoons are universal and used whenever a small amount of anything is specified
- • Never measure ingredients over the mixing bowl (especially salt, baking powder, baking soda, flour), as you want a precise amount and not any extra!
- • When measuring a sticky liquid (like honey or oil), lightly grease your glass measure first
- * When a recipe’s baking time is for example 20 – 30 minutes, Always set the timer for the *shortest baking time and check *. Never open the oven door ” to check” before the timer goes off, as it changes the oven temperature!
Happy Baking! And enjoy with limeade or your preferred ice drink and a nice nibble of something sweet this warm August.