Every day in January I am sharing my best Tips for Better Baking. These are tips that have made my kitchen life easier and helped me become a better baker. Follow along on Facebook or check back here each Sunday for a roundup of the week’s tips.
If you’re just joining us, be sure to check out Tips for Better Baking Week One and Tips for Better Baking Week Two.
Tips for Better Baking #12 – Zest Citrus onto Parchment
For easy clean up, zest citrus right onto a piece of parchment paper, then easily slide or shake it right into your mixing bowl. The best zest comes from a microplane (pictured below) and I highly recommend investing in one.
Tips for Better Baking #13 – Soften Brown Sugar in the Microwave
We’ve all gone to the cupboard looking for brown sugar and instead found that it had turned into a rock. I used to think I needed to throw it away once it reached that stage, but there’s an easy solution.
Tips for Better Baking #14 – Cold Eggs are Easier to Separate
Separate your eggs as soon as you pull them out of the refrigerator and then let them come up to room temperature. Cold eggs separate much easier than those at warm temperature and you’ll save your self the frustration of breaking yolks. If you’re separating a lot of eggs, you may need to take a short break and run your hands under hot water to warm them up because they will get cold.
Tips for Better Baking #15 – Store Dry Goods in Clear Storage Containers
It’s easy to bake in an organized kitchen. Storing your most used ingredients in storage containers will make your baking process quicker and cleaner. I recommend having labeled containers for flour (all-purpose and bread), sugar (white, brown, and powdered), baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cornstarch.
Tips for Better Baking #16 – Mise En Place
Mise en place is French for ‘putting in place’ but is used in professional kitchens to refer to the organization and set-up before you start cooking. If there is one restaurant trick that will make you a better home baker, this is it. To successfully get your mise en place ready for a recipe, you want to prepare all of the ingredients you need when you start baking. This means weighing out dry goods, measuring liquids, cracking eggs, heating your oven, and getting your equipment ready. Once you start to bake, everything is ready for you and you don’t have to worry about distractions or forgetting something.
I prefer to use plastic deli containers and soufflé cups to weigh out my ingredients. You can buy these at restaurant supply stores or even order them on Amazon. When you’re done, run them through the dishwasher and you can re-use them over and over.
Tips for Better Baking #17 – Proof Bread in a Marked Container
Bread recipes often say something like, ‘Cover bowl and let dough rise until doubled in size.’ This is easy enough, but after two hours it may be hard to remember where exactly your bread started as compared to where it is now. The solution is to use a marked container (such as the cambro container shown below) or create your own markings with tape.
In the example below, the dough started just under the 4-quart mark and needed to double in size. I put tape just under the 8-quart mark so I knew that the dough was ready when it hit the green line. Better than guessing!
Tips for Better Baking #18 – Always Use Fresh Citrus
It may be tempting to save time and purchase bottled lemon juice or a jar of dehydrated orange zest. It’s not worth it. Nothing compares to the flavor of fresh citrus juice and zest and it’s worth the time to prepare these ingredients yourself. The store-bought stuff will not come close to replicating the flavor of the fresh fruit and you’ll be disappointed in your finished baked goods.
What are your best tips for better baking? Do you have any baking problems that you would like to fix? Comment below or get in touch via social media. Happy Baking!
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