When baking, it's the little things that make all the difference. Everything from the tools you use to the brands you choose will affect the end result. To ensure your next baking adventure turns out a success, we've rounded up the best of the best of baking tips – including some from Martha Stewart – to share with you today!
In order to be the best baker on the block, it's important to not only follow the recipe exactly, but also know how to measure ingredients properly, place pans in the oven correctly and more. Essentially, there are some tips and tricks of the trade that every baker should know before volunteering to make dessert or even a batch of cookies. One thing's for sure — dessert shouldn't just be good, it should be great.
Let's start with the tools…
Obviously, in order to bake, you need cookie sheets, cake pans and measuring cups. But there are some other essential tools you'll need to invest in to make your life a little easier:
- A rolling pin. Invest in a good one — one that will keep your dough from sticking to the pin. This helps you avoid using too much flour, which can sacrifice the taste of the dough.
- A sharp, high-quality knife. We know, you're not carving a turkey here, but you may need to slice a bunch of fruit for a pie or chop chocolate. A high-quality knife allows for a more beautiful presentation.
- A sifter. Sifters are used for lightening flour after it's sat awhile, removing any clumps and mixing dry ingredients together. If a recipe calls for sifting, it's best not to skip this step, even though it seems minor. The pastry (or baked good) will wind up fluffier if you've sifted.
Essential tools by Martha Stewart
Martha says… "Baking and decorating a great cake starts with having all the right tools," such as:
- Parchment paper. Provides many uses, including lining pans, practicing piping and making cornets, parchment paper should be in every baker's kitchen.
- An oven thermometer. This is used for gauging the accuracy of your oven. We love this tip, as oven temperatures can vary significantly from one oven to the next. It's always best to be precise when baking.
- Toothpicks. Who knew you needed toothpicks when baking?! According to Martha, toothpicks are used "for marking cakes to split evenly and tinting icing with food coloring." Nice!
A little on measuring…
We all know it's critical to follow the recipe exactly when baking, but if you don't know how to properly measure ingredients, how will you know if you're following it exactly? To make sure you measure correctly, follow these crucial tips:
- Use dry measuring cups for dry ingredients and a liquid measuring cup for liquid ingredients. This makes a huge difference when talking accuracy.
- Pack brown sugar firmly into the measuring cup and level off with a knife. When you place it into the bowl, it should retain the shape of the cup.
- When measuring liquids, place liquid measuring cup on a flat surface to guarantee accuracy. Pour into bowl and scrape the liquid cup with a spatula to get any excess ingredients out.
Essential measuring tips by Martha Stewart
Martha says… "Since baking is a science, too much or too little of any one ingredient can throw off the balance of a cake recipe." She recommends:
- Using stainless steel graduated cups for measuring dry ingredients.
- Always measuring flour correctly.
- Storing dry ingredients in wide-mouthed canisters for neat and easy measuring. Place measuring cup in canister and lift up one large, overflowing scoop. Level off with straightedge knife, scraping excess back into canister.
For more fabulous baking tips from Martha Stewart, be sure to check out The Best of Martha Stewart: Cakes and Cupcakes. Here, she shares more than 50 recipes for her most beautifully decorated desserts and provides detailed tips and instructions on how you can make your own creations look just like hers! Available now through May 13.
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Photo credit: Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.