We talk a lot about doughnuts and waffles. We talk about my cat a bit too much. We talk about New Orleans and beignets and parades, and beads. We could, if you’re at all interested, talk about how many peanut butter cups I just shoved in my mouth. That conversation would be short and barely interesting. 6. That’s the number.
Today let’s talk about 7 ways to be a better baker. A few small tweaks and little nuggets of advice to build confidence in the kitchen. Read through and leave a comment below if any questions come up for you! I want us to be the best bakers we can be.
Cookie dough above: Vanilla Bean Confetti Cookies.
1. You’re only as good as your relationship with your oven.
Well, unless you’re a raw pastry chef, in which case, cheers to you. No need to have the fanciest, latest and greatest oven. It’s more about your relationships, how well you know each other, and how readily you accept all the quirks.
Some ovens have hot spots, little zones in that hotbox that are hotter than others. Get familiar the hot spots by seeing how a cake browns in the oven. Is one side more golden or burnt than another? Take note and rotate the your cakes and breads during baking.
Stop what you’re doing right now and invest in an oven thermometer. A gauge inside the oven is the only way to know how hot the hot is. Sometimes the dial doesn’t reflect the actual heat correctly.
2. Yes you have to follow the directions, mostly.
Baking is a delicate balance of flours, moisture, leavening, and heat. A recipe is there to hold your hand, lead the way, and give you a high-five at the end. You’ve got to trust the recipe to be good. Sometimes they’re not, but you have to trust the process, cold butter, buttermilk and all.
Here’s how to read a recipe. It’s nice to know how to read a map.
3. If you’re not using a scale, here’s we measure flour. It’s important.
4. Waste Not, Want Not
So often I end up with a container full of egg whites after making ice cream, a small handful of pecans, and leftover fresh herbs from various baking projects. Don’t throw these things away or let them languish to death in the refrigerator. Delicious treats come from leftovers! Don’t let em go!
• Turn egg whites into crisp Vanilla Bean and Cocoa Nib Meringues!
• Toss pecans, and whatever other nuts you have on hand into a batch of Oatmeal Cookie Granola!
• Smash leftover herbs into butter with lots of salt and call it Super Herb Butter. Delicious done!