Fall marks the start of baking season, and we want to help you avoid painful baking fails. We searched for smart baking tips that we hadn't heard before. Now we're excited to share them with you in this three part series.
Today's post is Part 1, and it covers some do's and don'ts regarding your ingredients. We hope it's helpful. Happy baking!
Avoid Baking Fails: Use What's in the Recipe
First and foremost (and this should go without saying), use the ingredients called for in the recipe. The funniest comments on food blogs are from readers who make all sorts of ingredient substitutions and then complain about the recipe results. Save the tweaks for the second time around, even if you know what you're doing. How will you know what you want to change, if you haven't tried it as-is first?
Avoid Baking Fails: Use Room Temperature Ingredients
Next, you may have heard about bringing cold ingredients to room temperature before mixing, but do you know how and why? We can't explain it better than this post on Sally's Baking Addiction. In a nutshell, room temperature ingredients blend together easily, which makes all the physical and chemical processes run smoothly. We urge you to read Sally's post if you want to know all the ways you can ruin your cakes and cookies by mixing cold ingredients with room temperature ingredients.
To bring butter, eggs, milk, and cream cheese to room temperature, simply take them out of the refrigerator an hour or two before you plan to bake. If necessary, you can grate butter or cut it into smaller pieces, and place eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot!) water. But please don't microwave any ingredients.
Avoid Baking Fails: At High Altitude, Omit the Baking Soda
Living in Colorado, we're always looking for high altitude baking tips. What's Cooking America offered one suggestion we'd never heard before: omit baking soda from cookie dough at high altitude. Lower air pressure at high altitude makes cookie dough spread; baking soda makes it spread even more.
Avoid Baking Fails: Sift the Dry Ingredients
Finally, we're intrigued by this tip from Priyanka of One Geek of a Parent. She recommends sifting all the dry ingredients together to combine them more evenly than merely whisking. She also notes that sifting helps aerate the flour, especially if it has settled while sitting in the bowl, waiting to be added to the batter. Be sure to measure correctly too, especially flour.