Use These Tips to Avoid Common Baking Failures

Use These Tips to Avoid Common Baking Failures

Sooner or later, anyone who loves baking will experience a total disaster in the kitchen. Maybe it’s the brownie recipe that comes out of the oven as hard as a brick, the cake that deflates or the muffins that crumble into a total mess.

Although there could be any number of reasons for your baking mishaps, we at Mother Rucker’s Sweets have narrowed down a list of our top baking tips that’ll help you steer clear of the most common baking mistakes.

Know your recipe

Before you even preheat your oven, always read the recipe in full to make sure you have all the ingredients and utensils you’ll need. Double-check the quantities of each ingredient, too — few things are as frustrating as getting halfway through a complicated recipe and finding out you’re a cup short of powdered sugar or low on vanilla extract.

Check the oven temperature

Household ovens are notoriously inaccurate when it comes to baking temperatures. You can compensate for your oven’s inaccuracy with a stainless steel oven thermometer, which will also help you map your oven’s hot and cool spots. Each oven is unique when it comes to temperature distribution. With your over thermometer, you may find that the bottom rack may be too hot for your cookie recipe but perfect for cakes, or that one side of the oven is noticeably cooler.

Prep all ingredients first

Before you start baking, get all your ingredients out on the counter and prep everything you need before you begin. This means rinsing berries, melting butter, or chopping and toasting nuts so that all of your ingredients are ready whenever the recipe calls for them.

Also, prepare your baking pans and muffin tins before you start your recipe by either greasing and flouring them or applying cooking spray, whichever the recipe calls for. If you’re using parchment paper, cut it to size and lay it in place so there will be no delay once your batter or dough is ready.

And, unless the recipe specifically calls for chilled butter or frozen berries, let each ingredient reach room temperature before you begin to mix ingredients.

Chill cookie dough

If you’re making cookies, pop your prepared dough in the fridge for an hour or two before spooning it onto the baking sheet. By chilling your dough, you’ll bake cookies that keep their shape with no burned bottoms.

Measure accurately

Whether you’re adding just a teaspoon of extract or several cups of flour, make sure you’re measuring everything precisely. Weight is a far more accurate measurement for dry ingredients than cups and tablespoons, so consider investing in a kitchen scale and look for recipes that specify grams or milligrams rather than conventional measurements.

If you don’t have access to a kitchen scale, be sure to spoon your dry ingredients into the measuring cup to avoid packing them too densely. If the dry ingredients are packed, then they’ll throw off your ratio of dry to wet ingredients, resulting in dry, cracked cakes and pastries.

Rotate your baked goods

Halfway through the baking time, rotate pies and pastries 180 degrees so they’ll bake evenly.

Keep the oven door shut

Every time you open the oven door — even for just a second — you’re letting heat escape and reducing the oven temperature. To compensate, your oven boosts the temperature back up, and these fluctuations of hot and not-so-hot take their toll on how evenly your baked goods bake. Many burned cookies or deflated cakes are the result of the baker peeking into the oven one too many times.

Of course, you’ll need to open the door to rotate your pastries and pies, but if you’re checking for doneness, go ahead and remove what you’re baking from the oven and shut the door while you check.

Don’t overcrowd things

To avoid another major cause of uneven baking, leave at least an inch between your baking pans and the side of the oven, and never let pans touch each other. Leave plenty of room between cookies on your cookie sheet, too.

Allow for cooling time

Let cakes and pastries cool completely before you reach for the frosting. When it comes to presentation, your patience can make the difference between a melted disaster and a dessert that really takes the cake.

Happy baking!