Beginner's Guide in Baking

More and more people are learning how to bake these days. For some, it could be a way to relieve their stress, to get their mind away from the stressful lifestyle. When you are baking, you have to focus and concentrate on the recipe and the outcome of the cake can be rewarding and self-satisfying. For some, baking is a bonding process, a way to spend quality time together with your loved ones.   Be it baking with your child or baking for the one you love; baking provides a great opportunity for parents, children and for couples to participate in an interactive activity. Baking can be fun and entertaining at the same time brings joys and therapeutic effect to your senses.  Baking is all about bringing people together over food and winning their hearts.

Studies have shown BAKING, in general, can help to relieve stress, increased mindfulness, and can be a productive form of self-expression and communication.  

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New to Baking?
You may be new to baking, have never baked before and would like to start somewhere, but are at a lost of where and how to start it?  Fret not, you don't have to spend a bomb to take up expensive baking lessons.  With a few baking tools and guides, you can get started in no time.  
Here are some baking tips that help you get started.

 sweet baking at my Bake Store

Baking Tip #1: Choose an EASY Recipe
As a beginner, choose a recipe that is simple and easy to follow. Start with a simple recipe that calls for 10 or fewer ingredients in the list with clear and simple directions.  A complicated recipe with 10-20 ingredients and with different mixing methods that take up whole day process will only discourage you.  Follow a simple recipe that will encourage and set you up for baking success.

Baking Tip #2: STOCK UP your kitchen, prepare your ingredients
Mixing bowl and spatulaBefore you get started, ensure you have all the right tools and ingredients set right before you.  A lot of beginners find baking frustrating because they did not prepare tools and ingredients in advance.
Your baking tools such as egg whisk, mixing bowl, spatula or scraper have to be thoroughly clean and dry before baking.  Always use room-temperature ingredients, unless the recipe calls for cold or melted butter. You want room-temp ingredients for consistency in your recipes. Most recipe call for beating butter and sugar together. When butter is at room temp, it is easier to cream and mix well with the sugar, thus creating nice fluffy baked goods. If butter is too cold, it won’t cream properly with sugar, which can impact the softness and fluffiness of your cake or cookies.   Just like adding cold eggs to your butter-sugar mixture means all your hard work has gone down the drain. It will make ingredients 'seize' into chunks which never fully mix with your dry ingredients because COLD ingredients do not incorporate together as easily. 

Baking Tip #3: Use the RIGHT TOOLS to measure your ingredients
Kitchen Digital ScaleRead the recipe thoroughly and measure your ingredients properly. Make sure you are using the right tools to measure your flour, butter or sugar. (eg. measuring cups/ measuring spoons with proper marking or use a kitchen digital scale to weigh them).   Example: When it comes to measuring flour, loosely scoop the flour/sugar into a measuring cup using a spoon and then level the measuring cup off with a butter knife. measuring cupThis tip will ensure that you get the proper amount of ingredients into your recipe. 

Baking Tip #4: SIFT Dry ingredients
Flour SifterUse a Flour Sifter to sift your flour and other dry ingredients (eg baking powder/baking soda, salt or cocoa powder) properly before adding to your wet ingredients. Sifting flour is a basic in baking. It helps to filter out impurities and aerate the flour so that it is easier to mix into other ingredients when forming a cake batter.  Aerating the flour helps to break up clumps of flour and thus creating a light, airy and delicate texture in a finished baked good.

Baking Tip #5 DO NOT Overmix your batter
Mix wet and dry ingredients until just 'evenly combined' means STOP mixing as soon as you can’t see the ingredient that you just added. For example, if you are adding flour into butter and sugar, immediately stop mixing once you no longer see any white powder.  If you overmix, the gluten in the flour can form elastic gluten strands, resulting in a more dense, chewy texture in your baked goods.  Depends on the recipe calls for, spatula sometimes it is good to use a spatula to fold in your flour into the wet ingredients instead of using the electric beater which may overmix your batter.

Baking Tip #6: Prepare your pans and preheat oven
baking panUse a proper pan or correct size of bakeware (example: if a recipe calls for 8-inch removable pan, make sure you are using an 8-inch removable pan. Or if a recipe specifies 6-inch round pan, make sure you are using a 6-inch round pan). You may think it is okay to use a pan that is larger or smaller than the recipe calls for, but this will lead to failure. Your baked goods may either come out underbaked or overbaked.

parchmentBefore pouring batter into the pan, ensure your cake pan is properly grease or line with parchment paper.  This prevents the bake from sticking after baking.  

Baking Tip #7: Use an Oven Thermometer 
As a beginner, you may not know your oven yet, as this comes from experience. Every oven is different and it might take you a while to get used to your oven. The temperature gauge might say 160degrees but in reality, it may be slightly more, which is why sometimes we realise that our bakes come out cracked/burnt on the surface or underbaked.
Oven ThermometerAn oven thermometer is not expensive, it is advisable is to invest an oven thermometer to save you from an undesirable result and much pain.

Baking Tip #8: Use a Kitchen Timer  
Do not assume that you can remember the time to take your bake out of the oven. More times than not, we become busy doing something else and lose track of the timing.
kitchen TimerA Kitchen Timer is a baker’s best friend because it allows them to work on other things while the recipe bakes. A timer also ensures the proper doneness of the recipe.

Baking Tip #9: DO NOT OPEN Oven Door 
It's always tempting to open the oven door to take a peek when there's a cake in there, esp for a beginner.  But please, please refrain from doing so, opening the oven's door can create great fluctuations of heat in the oven, which cause your cake to collapse. Hot air from the oven gushes out causing the temperature in the oven to drop suddenly and thus causing the structure of the cake sink. This is especially important for flourless cake and cheesecake. 

Baking Tip #10: DO NOT Feel Discourage 
Baking is a science as well an art, and the key to better baking is understanding the chemical forces at play.  Even seasoned baker has a recipe that doesn’t turn out quite right.  It could be the altitude, the humidity or the wrong ingredients used.   
DO NOT let this STOP you.  Think about what could have gone wrong.emoji Did you measure the ingredients correctly, did you follow the recipe exactly? Did you overmix or skip any steps? Did you bring the Cold ingredients to room temperature before mixing them? 
Learning from mistakes is what’s important.  Just remember to try again and never give up. 

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