BAKING TIPS FOR THE HOLIDAYS OR ANY DAYS
With the baking season quickly approaching, here are a few tips to help you succeed.
To Make Cake Flour –When cake flour is called for in a recipe and none is to be found in the pantry, remove 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour and substitute 2 tablespoons cornstarch per cup. Whisk together to combine completely. Use as called for.
To Make Self Rising Flour – Sometimes a recipe calls for self rising flour. I don’t stock it in my kitchen and I bake a lot. It can easily be made by combining 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk together completely and use in the amount called for.
Measuring Flour – There are dry measures and liquid measures. Dry measures are meant to be filled to the very top for the correct amount. Liquid measures often have a lip on them and they are marked with measurements. They are not usually filled to the top. The lip aids in pouring. Unfortunately, there are many ways to measure flour. In a professional bakery scales are used as the only true measure. Four ounces is always for ounces. However, many households don’t have kitchen scales so another method has to be found. If you get a new baking book, check their index for the method they use. The most frequently accepted method is to stir the flour in its canister or bag, dip the dry measure cup in overfilling it and with the flat side of a knife or spatula, sweep off the excess. Whatever you do, do not tap the cup to level it or tamp it down. Too much flour will make for a heavy, leaden outcome.
Parchment Paper – As a professional baker for over 25 years, I was very happy when I finally saw parchment paper on grocery the shelf. It is indispensable in a bakery. We used it to line all the pans so there is no need to grease and butter the baking sheets or cake pans. Simply tear off enough to cover a cookie sheet. If lining cake pans, no matter what shape, draw around the bottom of the pan on the parchment paper and cut out. Line the inside of the pan. It makes a world of difference in baking.
To Prevent Overbrowning of Cookies: Items made with brown sugar, honey, molasses or cornsyrup brown very quickly in the oven. Cookies, because they are small and relatively thin, can overbrown or burn before they are finished. To prevent this, double pan each baking sheet. Simply put one cookie sheet on top of another and bake according to the directions. The double panning slows the heat to the bottom and they will be perfect when finished.
To Make Buttermilk or Sour Milk – To make a substitute for buttermilk or sour milk called for in a recipe, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of whole or 2% milk. It will probably curdle but that is fine.
Toasted Nuts – A great flavor boost when using nuts is to toast them. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, spread the nuts out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 7 to 12 minutes depending upon the nut. Be careful not to burn them. Toasted nuts make a world of difference in a baked product especially.