A Baker's Dozen Worth Of Tips...
- Read your recipe fully first – to ensure you have all the ingredients, understand the steps and the cooking terms, and note chilling or waiting times, if any.
- Preheat your oven before you start to assemble ingredients. Your oven is ready when the element light turns from red to black again.
- Get all your ingredients ready and measured out in bowls or nappies before you start the recipe.
- Use the proper tool for measuring... Use measuring spoons, not cutlery, for dry or wet teaspoons and tablespoons, metal or plastic stacking cups for dry ingredients such as flour or sugar, and Pyrex® measures for wet ingredients. To accurately measure dry ingredients, spoon flour or sugar into required dry measure until heaping, then use the blunt edge of a knife to scrape off excess. Brown sugar should be packed before levelling. To accurately measure wet ingredients, don't hold, but set the Pyrex® measure down on a level surface.
- Baking recipes assume that: Eggs are always large and at room temperature. Butter is always unsalted, unless otherwise specified. Coconut, if not specified, can be sweetened or unsweetened, depending on taste. Biscuit or Variety Baking Mix refers to packaged pre-mixed dry ingredients used to make biscuits and pancakes (not cookie mix).
- Learn how to read recipes accurately. There is a difference between 1 cup butter, melted and 1 cup melted butter. In the first one, you measure and then melt the butter and in the second, you melt the butter and then measure. This can mean a difference of 1-2 tablespoons and can alter the final product.
- Baking terms are very specific. Combining or Blending* means stirring together two or more ingredients to a specified texture or consistency. Folding is a gentle motion designed to keep aerated foods light and fluffy whereas stirring is a more vigorous action. And whipping is intended to inject as much air and volume into whipping cream or butter. (* if an electric blender or mixer is meant to be used, it will be specified in the recipe)
- Keep your kitchen stocked with basic baking ingredients for quick and easy Eagle Brand® recipes – Eagle Brand® sweetened condensed milk, unsalted butter, graham cracker crumbs, all purpose flour, chocolate chips, flaked coconut, baking soda and baking powder, brown, icing and granulated sugars, extracts, lemons, and nuts (best stored long term in the freezer). Use the best ingredients you can buy –butter, fresh lemons, pure vanilla extract, fresh nuts, and high quality chocolate.
- Always melt chocolate over low heat, either stovetop in a double boiler over hot (not boiling) water or in the microwave, on 50% power, stirring often. And the more finely chopped it is, the more evenly it will melt.
- Always bake in the centre of the oven. If a time range is given for baking, always check on the baking progress at the first time indicated in your recipe.
- Be aware that if you use a glass baking dish instead of a metal pan, you must reduce the oven temperature as well as the baking time. Similarly, if you reduce or increase a recipe or use a different size pan, baking times can be longer or shorter.
- You don't need a pantry full of equipment to bake, just a few high quality essentials: one set of graduated, straight sided dry measures, a set of graduated measuring spoons, a 1-cup and 2-cup wet measure, a set of graduated stainless steel or glass mixing bowls, a small paring knife, wooden spoon, wire whisk, and several rubber spatulas, a heavy-bottomed medium-sized saucepan, one each 8-inch, 11x7-inch and 13x9-inch baking pan, parchment paper, a kitchen timer, cooling rack, oven mitts and hand held or upright electric mixer.
- Parchment paper is your best baking tool, found where waxed paper is sold. Line your pans with parchment for even baking and easy removal of your set cookies, bars or fudge. And it also makes clean-up a snap!