August – Baking Tips

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.

BakingBESTPoster

• 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.

Eggs In Depth; Baking / Cooking Tips

Always crack eggs open individually in a separate bowl. By this I mean that when  a recipe calls for say 4 eggs, crack the egg in one bowl, inspect it by looking at it to make sure that it is clear, has no smell, then pour it into the bowl where all the eggs will be together. This way, if you have a bad egg lurking in the batch, you do not lose all your eggs.One bad egg in with fresh eggs means you’ll need to start over.Some recipes with meringues or high lift can use up to 12 egg whites, which is when you really  don’t want to have to start over!

When a recipe calls for egg whites this means you must seperate the yolk (the yellow center) from the white. Remember, a little egg white in with the yolk is fine. It will not ruin the recipe. A little yolk in the egg whites will  ruin the recipe. The eggs will not rise or puff up as they should, so pay attention.

Temperature of the eggs : For baking you almost always want your eggs to be at room temperature. Just take out the eggs you will need and set them on your counter for a few hours before you will start baking. Nothing will happen to them, and you will not become sick. Don’t put them in the microwave in an interest to save time, as you will actually cook the eggs. If you are in a hurry and don’t have hours to wait and it’s hot outside, place them outside, out of harms way and /or direct sunlight, and they will come up to room temperature faster.

Brown eggs have as a natural occurrence in many of their eggs, blood specs’. It just looks like a tiny drop of blood in the egg yolk. As long as their is no smell or cloudiness in the egg, it is still a good egg. It really is just a natural occurrence. If it grosses you out, take part of the cracked egg shell and scoop it out. The rest of the egg is good and should be used.

If you have a piece of shell that has fallen into the egg when breaking it, using part of the shell to scoop it out will get the job done quickly. As I’ve learned from experience, any other utensil, including your hands, will take you longer and a lot more irritation, to get it out; the shell naturally attracts back to itself. (Too cool).

While I know veganism is a growing movement, and we do offer vegan versions of many of our products, nothing replaces the taste, texture, and healthfulness that using fresh, room temperature eggs provide in your baking and cooking! So get cracking!… 🙂

Intimitaded by Baking Math?

We are in full baking mode here at the bakery. In ‘normal’ times of the year we are a unique blend of baking our bakery line and baking / decorating wedding and / or occasion cakes. Yet in December it is mostly baking for the bakery line. Which I love and enjoy. It fills your senses with the holiday season. And my youngest daughter who still lives with me loves it because there is always something to ‘sample’.

However, large quantities, and multiple quantities mean a lot of math. Now, unlike a lot of bakers I see highlighted on Food Network shows and the like, I am most definitely not a mathematician. In fact, I told my children’s teachers that I could no longer help them with their math homework after grade 5. Algebra II, Calculus, are all just words to me that can remain pleasant as long as we don’t enter the deep labyrith of their meaning, or worse, application.

And yet, I am very adept and quick at baking math. Somehow the simple fractions and changing from teaspoons to tablespoons, cups to pounds, ounces to cups, are not so or so complicated to me. Which always makes me chuckle when I’m working with people who love math and sometimes struggle with it. Now, before you think I’m bragging or gloating, don’t; their is no ego, just baffled amusement. And I want to help everyone who does struggle with it, so I am putting these notes below, to help you until you’re baking sufficiently that it becomes second hand knowledge.

1 cup of butter = 2 sticks (8 oz) (1 stick = 4 oz, 8 TB)
16 oz = 1 lb
16TB = 8 oz
2 TB = 1 oz
6 tsp = 1 oz
3 tsp = 1 TB
3/4 tsp = 1/4 Tb
⅓ , 0.33 = 5 Tb + a bit
¾ (0.75) cup = 6 oz,
1.5 cup = 12 oz
2.5 cups = 20 oz, 1.25 lb
2 lb = 32oz
5 TB = 2.5 oz

oz = ounces, Tb = tablespoon, tsp – teaspoon, lb – pound,

While fluid ounce and solid ounce are the same equivalents in weight, it is not interchangeable measuring and should be measured in their respective measuring tools.

So be afraid no more; Go forth and Bake!