The holiday season is quickly winding down amid baking successes, failures and frustrations. Even if you’ve already presented your family with a mostly burnt pie or sugar cookies that leave much to be desired, you can still benefit from gaining new baking know-how.
Here are five tips and tricks to help you perfect your baking skills.
1. Get to know your oven
Even if you set your oven to a certain temperature, it may not distribute heat evenly. If you notice that certain parts of your dishes turn out differently than others, you likely have “hot spots” in your oven. Iowa State University Extension AnswerLine has the solution: Set a cookie sheet of slices of bread in your oven and set the temperature to 350 degrees for several minutes. Wherever a slice of bread is getting too dark, you know you have a hot spot, so don’t push your pots and pans into those areas.
2. Make half a recipe
Found something you want to make but don’t need as much as the recipe yields? The University of Nebraska-Lincoln explains how to reduce the size of a recipe. The good news is you don’t have to use any complicated math equations; there’s a handy chart on the website that breaks down the measurements for you.
3. Create perfect pie crusts
The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension offers a factsheet that details everything from ingredients to pan size, but the tips about pie crust are essential. Place the dough between two pieces of wax paper, then roll it out until it’s ⅛-inch thick. Carefully pick the dough up and turn it one quarter of the way around, then roll it again. If the dough tears, add another piece of dough and attach it with water. Do not re-roll the entire piece of dough. Repeated rolling will make the dough tough.
4. Substitute ingredients
If you’re baking and realize you don’t have one of the ingredients that the recipe calls for, it’s possible that there’s a substitution available in your pantry or refrigerator. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has a list of common ingredient substitutions, although there are many more that aren’t on the list.
Note: There might be a slight difference in how the food turns out, but otherwise the results should be acceptable in appearance, texture and taste.
5. Easily separate eggs
When a recipe calls for just the yolk or just the whites, you have the tedious task of carefully cracking eggs. Although there are several ways to successfully separate egg whites from egg yolks, Food Network shared this video that shows how to use an egg separator or a spoon to quickly complete the task.
Have any other baking tips and tricks? Share them in the comments section below.
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