I think I’ve always been a baking hobbyist. After a long stressful day of work, often I have taken retreats in baking. The pleasure that a rising cake or a spreading cookie can give is priceless.
But believe me, it’s not hunky-dory for any of us. Sure, practice does make things better but what if I told you that I have some cheat codes for you which can take your baking game from meh! to Awesome! without much effort.
Yes, it’s true.
Don’t believe me? Well, try them out for yourself!
1. Always use Chocolate & not Compound
When I first started baking, I bought all baking supplies from a place nearby who sold me the Dark Compound saying its the ‘dark baking chocolate’. And I believed him for a long time! It was much later that I found out that compound is (for the lack of a better word) fake chocolate. It is made of cocoa powder + oil. It contains no cocoa butter which is what gives the chocolate it’s creamy texture & intensity. It is also less resistant to heat & burns faster in the oven.
Plus when you use the real chocolate or the couverture chocolate as it is called, you get much more intense and deep flavors. So chuck your compound, go get a bar of couverture chocolate and see your recipes turn into Awesome! with no other changes!
2. Always use 70% or more dark chocolate
Well, this might be more about personal preference, but I find using dark chocolate not only gives an intense chocolaty flavor to my baked goods but also balances out some of the sweetness, making it even more delicious. You can buy any dark chocolate you get like Lindt or Amul, or even Morde but do make sure its Dark Chocolate & not Dark Compound.
3. Always weigh your ingredients
Weighing your ingredients is really the only way of measuring them. Measuring through cups will never give the exact measurement. And that's why when measuring through these analog methods, the final result is always changing a little bit. So to be really sure of how much of what you are putting, always weigh your ingredients.
4. Mix well before you put the dry ingredients but not after
Be it for cake, brownie or cookies, all the mixing and aerating of the batter should be done before the dry ingredients are added and not after. Because we don’t want the gluten of the flour to get developed by over mixing the batter. After the dry ingredients are added, mix only till you can’t see any streaks of flour or cocoa powder in your batter and you’re all done. Overmixing can lead to a chewy and hard final product. So, beware!
5. Get an oven thermometer
The use of an oven thermometer can't be overestimated. It is a must-have kitchen essential. And trust me I wouldn’t be saying this again if it wasn’t only the most important thing ever! All the recipes you see tell you to bake at a specific temperature & time. But how would you know whether the temperature inside the oven is what it should be? And that’s why you need this.
6. Use the correct egg-replacer
I’m an eggless baker and have done tons of research on replacing eggs in baked goods. What I have realized over the years is that you cannot use anyone kind of egg-replacer in all the baked goods you make. You have to understand what the eggs do in that particular recipe and replace it accordingly. For example, in brownies & blondies, eggs provide moisture and binding and hence we use flaxseed powder in place of eggs. Whereas in cakes they provide airiness and smoothness and therefore curd or even condensed milk works beautifully. So the next time you have to replace eggs in any recipe, try to see what is it that the egg is doing there & replace it accordingly.
These tips are the sure-shot success formula for any recipe that you might want to make. So do give them a try and if you have any other tips & tricks of baking that you would like to share with us, please tell us in the comment section.