8 essential tips for new bakers from Canadian cookbook author Amy Ho
This piece was written for Daily Hive by Amy Ho, the Vancouver-based blogger of Constellation Inspiration and cookbook author of the newly released Blooms and Baking.
Baking in stressful times is nothing new, and it is no surprise that #QuarantineBaking is trending on social media.
Creating sweet eats can bring joy and comfort during this stressful time in two different ways — through the meditative process of combining ingredients as well as the sense of accomplishment one gets when achieving a successful bake.
If you are a first-time baker or newer baker, here are some tips to help you find success on your next baking adventure.
Before you start baking
1. Make sure you have all the ingredients you need for your baking project
There is nothing worse than realizing you are out of baking powder while you are making your cupcake batter. Carefully read the ingredient list of your chosen recipe before you begin combining all your ingredients.
If you are having trouble finding certain ingredients required for your baking project at the grocery store, try looking at your local bakery, smaller independent grocery store, or independent restaurants that may be selling pantry essentials during this time.
In Vancouver, Matchstick Coffee and The Federal Store are keeping up with flour demands, and Livia is selling bottles of yeast, an ingredient that is always sold out at regular grocery stores.
Medina Café is selling flour, butter, and sugar in addition to its take-out menu. Beta5 Chocolates is selling high-quality chocolates they normally use to for their own products.
2. If a recipe calls for an ingredient to be at room temperature, follow suit
Recipes don’t just do that for fun – room temperature ingredients emulsify much easier into batter, which creates a uniform texture throughout your baked good. Many cake and cookie recipes will call for the butter and eggs to be at room temperature.
When you are ready to bake
3. Measure your ingredients properly
If you have a kitchen scale, use it! If you do not, make sure you use measuring cups and spoons for dry ingredients. Flour is one of the ingredients that is the trickiest to correctly measure. You should use a spoon to fill the measuring cup instead of scooping flour directly from the bag, which packs that ingredient down. That could leave you with much more flour than what’s actually needed, resulting in a dry baked good.
4. Do not overmix your dough or batter, this can result in a tough cake or cookie
If a recipe calls for mixing until no more dry ingredients are seen, do not go beyond that and continue mixing for another five minutes.
5. When making cookies, chill your cookie dough
One of the questions I get the most is “why did my cookies spread so much in the oven?” Chilling cookie dough in the refrigerator firms it up, decreasing the possibility of them spreading and becoming one large cookie on the pan. Chilling cookie dough not only ensures a thicker cookie but enhances flavour as well. Chilling is especially important for roll-out cookies like shortbread or sugar cookies, when you want to retain the design and shape of the cookie cut-out.
6. Use an ice cream scoop to portion out chilled cookie dough, cupcake batter, cake batter, and more
Using a cookie scoop to divide up batter and dough ensures that each portion is the same and will bake evenly. Generally, one cookie will be one scoop of batter and one cupcake will also be one scoop of batter.
When your baked good is in the oven
7. Keep your oven door closed
You can completely throw off the oven temperature by constantly opening and closing the oven door to peek inside. Opening the oven door can decrease the oven temperature up to 50 degrees and that can make a huge impact on how your baked goods turn out. Instead, use your oven light to see what is happening inside of your oven.
When your baked goods are out of the oven
8. Allow your baked goods to rest.
Let your treats cool on the baking sheet or in its pan for at least 10 to 15 minutes before removing them. Cookies and cake are very tender and prone to breaking if you start handling them straight from the oven.
Bonus tip: Most importantly, be proud of what you just made!
About Blooms and Baking
Blooms and Baking features baking recipes inspired by flowers. You can expect to find recipes like Jasmine and Honey Éclairs, Chocolate Bundt Cake with Orange Blossom Ganache, Peach Galette with Lavender Whipped Cream, and Cherry Blossom Sablés. In addition to floral recipes, there is a large chapter on decorating with fresh flowers and creating buttercream flowers.