Six Rules to Bake By

Preheat. Why? Because it says so! If a recipe asks you to preheat the oven to a certain temperature. Well… you should. What the recipe is trying to tell you is that your cupcakes, or loaf of zucchini bread, or blackberry muffins need to combine with a certain temperature to do their thing. And we all know, we want out baked goods to do their thing. Even if they don’t, we’ll probably still nibble on them on their way from the oven to the trash bin. But everything seems to work out like sunshine and roses if our baked goods do their thing. Right?

You Don’t Need Gadgets. You might want them… but you don’t need them. Is it just me or has baking become kind of trendy lately? I’ve noticed all sorts of intricate, multi layered whisks, and scrapers, and bumper stickers for your Kitchen Aid mixer. It turns out that you don’t really need any of that stuff to produce some killer cupcakes. You’ll need some stainless steel bowls and a fantastic candy thermometer but really, stick with the basics.

Yeast- You Can do It! I know, yeast is a little intimidating. But really- you can do it! There are a few things yeast needs to get going- warm water and sugar. Simple as that. You have live yeast. These cinnamon rolls were some of the first yeasted breads I mastered. They were more approachable to me because the dough has creamed butter, sugar and eggs. It starts off like and cake and finishes as a bread. If you’re scared of yeast, please give this recipe a go!

Oil up– This tip isn’t really a baking tip. If you’re dicing up peppers, before you handle the peppers rub your hands with vegetable oil. This will help make sure that the hot pepper juice doesn’t soak into your hands for you to find later when you brings your hands up to your mouth and nose. Ouch!

Butter is butter. Margarine is NOT butter. I don’t mean to yell. I just really need you to understand that margarine is not butter. Butter is fat, milk solids, water and sometimes salt. Margarine is hydrogenated yellow. And you know what!? They (margarine makers) have to dye it yellow! Margarine is really a dull grey color that they bleach white and then dye yellow to make it look more like butter. Not kidding. Not cool. Google it. Use butter. It tastes good and we know where it comes from. If you’re a vegan- please don’t yell at me, because I like tofu and I’m not listening.

Cool To Room Temperature. Translation- Wait. I tend to be a bit of a rule breaker, which has produced some pretty disastrous baking results. One of those tragedies came when I didn’t let a cake cool properly and I tried to frost it while it was still a bit warm. Fail. Not good. My cake turned into a slip and slide. Frosting was oozing out of the layers and the whole thing wouldn’t stay together no matter how I cursed. Some lessons you have to learn the hard way. I’ll never frost a warm cake again.