I’ve got plans for you. My plans mostly involve you making an absolute mess of your kitchen with butter, flour, chopped pecans and chocolate chips. Are you ready for all the fall and winter baking I’m going to talk you into over the next three months? If you’re not ready now, not to worry. There’s time to prepare. Here are my top 5 baking tips to prep now, and have a deliciously successful baking season.
• Replace your baking powder and baking soda. Once open, these two common leavening agents have a shelf life of six months to a year. After they’ve been in the pantry for over a year, they just lose their luster and won’t create the rise they’re capable of. Without the rise you could end up with a more dense baked good and that’s never what you want, right? It’s an easy fix. Just add baking powder and baking soda to the grocery list and pour any excess expired baking soda down the kitchen sink with a bit of vinegar – it’s a little bonus clean! Oh, while you’re checking on pantry items, take a peek inside the flour and sugar canisters. Make sure you have as much as you need for an impromptu baking project (and make sure no icky critters have taken up residence in your canisters).
• Test for hot spots in the oven. One big key to your baking success is knowing your oven. It’s a relationship! You can put together the most lovely cake batter but if you don’t know what’s going on in your hot box, things could go sideways (and my sideways I mean cakes can overcook). Here’s how to test your oven for hot spots. Also, grab a, oven thermometer so you know if your 350 degrees F on the dial is the same inside the oven.
• Make your own pumpkin pie spice, like… now. I know the calendar reads September but it’s basically October. And while I was typing that it flipped right on over to November. I like to make my own pumpkin pie spice because I can add a few extra pinches of the warming spices I like the most – cloves and nutmeg. It’s nice to make a blend more personal. I feel like it makes all pumpkin baking a touch more special.
• Stay stocked on buttermilk because so many good things come from having buttermilk in the refrigerator. You’ll want it on hand for homemade pie crust, biscuits, waffles, and maybe even this Apricot Buttermilk Pie made with dried apricots. If you feel like you can’t commit to baking through a jug of buttermilk I have these clever buttermilk substitutions OR you can keep a canister of powdered buttermilk in the pantry.
• Treat yourself to pre-cut parchment paper. I don’t have much need for kitchen gadgets that claim to make various kitchen tasks easier BUT I will admit to splurging on precut parchment paper for my half sheet pans. It makes all the cookie, cake, and loaf baking so much easier. I recycle the sheets, using the same piece over and over again for cookie batches. 10/10 recommend.
If you want more than my top 5 baking tips, brush up on my Baking 101 series. We talk about which whisk is best, why we use large eggs, and all sorts of baking knowledge you didn’t know you need to know.
Happy Baking, friends. Let’s do this!