Ever since I can remember, I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen, trying to recreate all sorts of deliciousness. Sometimes I fail (badly) and sometimes the finished product actually looks (and tastes!) like something that a professional has made. That doesn’t happen very often though.
I first fell in love with baking, thanks to my nan (paternal grandmother). She was always in the kitchen, making such amazing breads, cakes and biscuits… Every time we (my parents and I) used to visit, the smell of freshly baked goods would wander through the house. It really was a little kids dream.
When I was old enough to hold a wooden spoon, that was when the baking lessons would begin. My nan would make sure that I always had my own bowl and ingredients, and she’d let me do everything myself. Yep. Even from a baby. The only thing that she wouldn’t let me do by myself was the oven… Until I was about 5 years old, then she taught me the safest way to put in and take out the baked goods.
Most of what I make now are tried and tested family favourites. The recipes that I use have been passed down from my nan, and I’m so proud to say that Gning is following in his my and his great-grandmothers footsteps by enjoying baking too.
Along my baking journey, I’ve picked up so many hints and tips to make it easier, but for my first post, I thought I’d give you just 5 of the quickest tips for baking.
At number 1 – I’ve lost my jug!
Oh no!!!! That’s not actually a problem though… If you need to measure out X amount of ml (millilitres) then just use your scales! Did you know that 1ml is equal to 1g (gram)? Mind Blown.
Number 2 – My cakes are always heavy
So, there’s actually 3 reasons why your cakes could be so heavy (dense).
1. You’re not measuring your ingredients correctly. Measure twice, cut once… Ok, ok, this is actually a sewing saying, but still has the same context. Always use a separate bowl from your mixing bowl for weighing the ingredients. If you have a feeling that you may have weighed too much flour (for example), you probably have. Put the whole lot back in the bag and start again. Make sure your scales are correctly aligned!!
2. Your oven isn’t preheated properly. A very common mistake! An oven can’t get up to 180C in just 5 minutes… According to several websites, an oven can take 10-15 minutes to fully preheat. If you reckon your oven can preheat in just 5 minutes, please tell me what make and model it is, because I need it!
3. You’re actually using the WRONG ingredients. If a recipe calls for caster sugar, don’t use granulated. If a recipe states “two large eggs”, don’t use two medium eggs, and substituting for a third medium egg isn’t going to work either. Sorry.
Coming in at number 3 – Scrape the bowl!
I’m not talking about scraping the bowl when you’re adding the mixture to the cake tin (or paper cases, etc.), I’m talking about whilst you’re mixing the ingredients!
It is really important to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl at regular intervals, to ensure that you don’t end up with any inconsistencies in your batter. You may leave only 1g of butter stuck to the very bottom of the bowl whilst mixing, but that 1g could be the end of your cake! Ok, I got a little over-dramatic there 😂
Several sites recommend that you actually use a flexible spatula for the scraping, before continuing with the wooden spoon, whisk or mixer.
Number 4 – Room temperature
This is quite a big one! Unless the recipe states “cold butter”, etc., always make sure that your butter and eggs are at room temperature before adding to your other ingredients. The average room temperature is 17-22C (64-73F).
And last, but certainly not least, coming in at number 5 – DON’T TOUCH THE DOOR!
I know how tempting it is to do it… I’ve done it so many times, and I’ve watched, what would have been, beautiful cakes sink lower than the Titanic (too soon?). If you really must open the oven door, please allow the cake, biscuits, or whatever is in there the recommended minimum amount of time to pass first. Then you can open and close the door every 3 seconds if you must.
“If in doubt, bake a cake!”~Unknown