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In a pickle: How to solve common baking mishaps

I’ll be the first to admit that I’d rather bake an elaborate cake that takes five hours than cook dinner — even spaghetti. I love to bake — but unfortunately things can go wrong every now and then.

Woman baking in kitchen

Unlike cooking, baking is a science. Measurements need to be exact, flour needs to be sifted, and you can’t just throw in ingredients that sound good (believe me, I’ve tried).

My mother always told me that anyone that can follow directions can bake wonderfully. While this is true, things still manage to go wrong. Let’s take a look at some common baking mishaps and learn how to solve them once and for all!

Baking mishap #1: Overbaking

Yes, when you bake, you are supposed to follow the recipe exactly. One thing people tend to forget about is their oven, though. Each oven is different and typically the temperatures vary by 25 degrees. This means if the recipe calls for you to preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, your oven may actually be heating up to 375 degrees F.

Solution: Learn your oven! Always set the timer 5-10 minutes sooner than the recipe calls for to double-check cakes, cookies and breads. Pay attention to how long it takes your treat to bake as compared with what the recipe says. After a few batches of cookies, you should know your oven fairly well.

Baking mishap #2: Using incorrect baking substitutions

Never take guesses when it comes to substituting baking ingredients. For example, there is no substitution for baking soda, but there is for baking powder (cream of tartar mixed with baking soda). People also tend to think they can eliminate eggs or use less than the recipe calls for. While this can be true, it totally depends on the recipe.

Solution: Study up on baking substitutions or make a detailed grocery list before baking to make sure you don’t need to substitute anything.

Learn more about ingredient substitutions >>

Baking mishap #3: Treats turn out dry

This is usually caused by overbaking the dessert, by not measuring the liquids properly or by letting the dessert cool in an area with a breeze. Part of what makes dessert so delectable is moistness. No one wants to eat a dry cake or crumbly cookies!

Solution: Don’t overbake, always measure the liquids properly and cool the treats at room temperature where there is no breeze. If it’s too late for that, poke holes in the cake with a fork and pour a can of sweetened condensed milk on top. This gives it a wonderfully sweet, moist taste you’ll be sure to love.

Baking mishap #4: Overbeating the batter

Unless you’re kneading dough, there’s no reason to overbeat cake or cookie batter. Overbeating cookies can make them chewy and overbeating pie dough can make it tough.

Solution: Remember that unless the recipe calls for heavy mixing, usually a light blending of the ingredients will work just fine. Most people tend to overmix when adding the flour, so we recommend half a cup at a time and folding the flour into the dough until it’s all mixed in.

Tell us

What common baking mishap do you tend to run into most? Share in the comments below!

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