TypeRecipes Cooking Articles Entertaining Articles
OccasionsValentine's Day Easter Mother's Day Summertime Father's Day Graduations Tailgating Fall Halloween Thanksgiving Christmas Birthday's Wedding Showers Baby Showers Supper Clubs
Entertaining 101Party Planning Basics Preparing Your Party Menu
Ambiance and DécorFlower Arranging Centerpieces Tablescapes
Etiquette AdviceInvitations and RSVPs Saying Thanks Table Setting Being a Good Guest
To bake is akin to being a craftsman: someone who makes home baked foods skillfully, one building block at a time. While a craftsman is usually one “who does something with great skill and expertise,” a home baker needs only to pay attention to each stage of the process and the expertise will come.
Our grandmothers had a repertoire of biscuits, cookies, pies, and cakes they baked by adding a pinch of this and a teacup of that. They could tell by the consistency of the batter when there was too much flour or they’d forgotten the sugar or poured in extra milk. You will get to that point, too, if you bake daily. But for novices and intermediate bakers, choosing ingredients and measuring properly, mixing ingredients well at the proper temperature without overbeating, and baking at the correct oven temperature, all contribute to the symphony of a luscious chocolate torte, fluffy coconut cake, or a batch of tender, moist muffins or chewy chocolate chip cookies.
Most importantly, a home baker must thoroughly read the recipe and know the game plan before the ingredients are assembled.
Gathering and Prepping Basic Ingredients
Your sense of smell and taste is key to ascertaining freshness; smell the spices and sample the nuts and chocolate. If you are toasting nuts, they will be done when you barely smell the aroma from the oven.
Unbleached all-purpose or unbleached bread
When recipes call for
Mixing and Baking
Start by preheating the oven before you mix the batter or dough. The slap of a hot oven activates the leavening and sets the structure of the baked food.
Mix dry ingredients well before incorporating them. You don’t want lumps of baking soda in your cake; stirring the dry ingredients before you measure them helps to prevent clumps. When you have the flour, leavening, and spices measured together, whisk them well to distribute them evenly.
When you initially cream the butter and sugar together, you are beating in fine air bubbles and making it ready to accept the eggs, flour mixture, and liquids. When you are finished, the butter/sugar mixture should be fluffy and several shades lighter in color. Hand mixers can take longer to do the job than stand mixers; it is important for any mixer to reach around the sides of the bowl and for you to scrape down the sides several times.
If you can trust the source of the recipe, have all your ingredients ready, follow clear instructions in the method, and your oven is calibrated, you are all set to bake successfully.