Are your cakes turning out too hard or do they sink once they cool down? Is your frosting too soft or your cookies hard as stone? Read on and find out what mistakes you’re making to become a better baker!
Baking is not everyone’s cup of tea, not because it’s difficult but because it needs precision. Unlike cooking, which is mainly instinctive, baking is very much like a science lab experiment. Every ingredient has a role to play in the recipe so you cannot just throw one of them out without suffering the consequences. This makes baking intimidating for a lot of us. And even if we gather enough courage to get up and bake, most of the times we just don’t get it right. Sometimes, the cake is too hard, other times it’s too soggy. Or our frosting is too soft to hold shape or sometimes it’s so hard that it tears our piping bags. Our cookies just don’t taste the same as that bakery’s or something is just not right! Well, to ease all those panic attacks and to help you become a better baker, I’ll point out the 5 most common baking mistakes we amateur bakers do and how you can avoid them in your next baking session! Let’s see how many of you can relate to it!
- Not using the correct tools: I cannot stress the importance of right tools enough. If you’re serious about baking and want to genuinely be good at it, please please please invest in a good set of measuring cups and spoons. They will make your life so much easier and will save you all that math trouble you have when you read a recipe. You will suddenly feel so liberated. You may feel like you’re doing alright without them but the truth is you’re not, not getting the correct amount of ingredients is one of the major reason you’re screwing up the recipe. You will not believe how many emails I get where people ask me why the recipe went wrong, and the reason turns out to be them not using the correct tools. Trust me on this and buy them already, the pain of Googling how many grams are in a cup and then carefully using your “measuring” skills to get the right amount will vanish..and you will finally enjoy baking! P.S. – 1 cup does not mean 1 teacup, it means 1 measuring cup! Teacup is roughly half of an actual US measuring cup so imagine you’re putting almost half the quantity the recipe is asking for, if you use a teacup. P.P.S – some people might even suggest you to go one step further and invest in a good weighing scale, I won’t. It’s important but if you’re a home baker who bakes occasionally, it’s not worth it.
- Whisking too much or too little – I understand how unnerving it can be to figure out exactly how much whisking is too much so today I’ll break it down for you. There are two types of people – some who just go crazy with the mixer and others who are just too scared to whisk. Both are bad for your cake. What you should be doing is THIS -> whisk your butter and sugar like a mad person, go all in, treat this as your cardio and just move your arms. How much you whisk your butter and sugar will ensure how crumbly and airy your cake is, so do it with all your heart. Whisk the eggs in but not for too long, a minute of hard whisking will suffice. BUT as soon as you add the dry ingredients to the wet ones, ditch the whisk and use the spatula. This way you’ll ensure that no extra air gets into the batter. Mix your ingredients as long as you no longer see dry flour and then just bake it. I understand that the feeling of whisking is almost therapeutic (at least for me) but please please please refrain from over doing it. If you whisk the batter too much, you risk incorporating too much air which will rise in the oven giving you the impression that your cake is rising but will collapse as soon as you take it out. Similarly for under whisking, if you don’t whisk your butter and sugar enough, your cake will be dense and really heavy, and no one likes that, remember!
- Opening the oven door to peak: This is a SIN. Do not open the oven door even if your life depended on it. If you open the oven door in the middle of baking what you end up doing is stopping the baking process, the cake will collapse and will not rise again. If you’re so keen on checking how your cake is doing, you can open the door after 2/3rd of the time has passed, which means if your recipe says bake your cake for 30 mins you need to wait at least 20 minutes before you can safely open the door.
- Age and temperature of the ingredients: If a recipe says use softened butter or room temperature eggs (like mine do), please use that! It’ll make your life so much easier and baking so much fun! If the ingredients are all not at the temperature the recipe suggests, you will not get the best results. For example, you need to use soft butter to make cake but to make pie the butter has to be cold otherwise the pastry won’t be as flaky so follow what the recipe says because these things matter. Also, you must always use room temperature eggs because cold eggs won’t mix properly. Quick tip: If you have cold eggs and cannot wait for it to come down to the right temp., put the cold egg in a bowl full of warm water, it’ll quickly get the egg back to room temp in no time. 🙂 Also, make sure the ingredients you use are not too old, use the freshest ingredients to get the best results.
- Substituting ingredients without proper research: Last but definitely the most common mistake, substituting ingredients without proper research. Baking is all science, every ingredient has a purpose to be there. Butter and sugar provide tenderness to a cake, whereas, flour and eggs provide structure. Milk or buttermilk are binding agents that get the batter together as well as provide moisture, so DO NOT reduce or increase the quantity because you feel it’ll work. Believe me when I say this that baking is all maths, I use formulas to create recipes and it is not easy to make the ingredients work together. So please research before you substitute something to understand what it does. If you’re into eggless baking and are looking for egg substitutes, follow this really helpful guide by Chef in You, I follow it and it has never failed me.
So, at the end all I can say is you learn from your mistakes so don’t be disheartened if your cakes don’t come out the way you wan them to in the beginning. It’ll take some time and practice but you’ll eventually learn and when you do you’ll realize that baking is actually really fun.
These are the 5 most common baking mistakes that I feel people make! Comment below and let me know if I left something out or if there’s something you would like me to cover! 🙂
Write to me for any queries!