Baking tips

Create edible cookie ice cream bowls using a muffin tin.

This is like the sourdough bread bowl of desserts. Both are great on their own, but so much better together. This delicious cookie bowl also has the added benefit of helping you control your ice cream portion without thinking. Your muffin tin seen better days? Pick up one for less than $5 here. (via Dreyer’s)

Use a potato peeler and a chocolate bar to make a gourmet chocolate garnish.

This may be my favorite of the baking tips and tricks. The chocolate peel garnish looks so fancy and it couldn’t be easier! I can’t wait to use this on my next homemade dessert. (via Krazy Coupon Lady)

Use unflavored dental floss to evenly slice cake or baked goods.

(via Real Simple) This baking tip is especially helpful for the difficult task of cutting cake layers in half: (via WikiHow) Make sure to stock some unflavored floss in your kitchen as well as your bathroom. It is sure to come in handy when cutting cakes, cinnamon rolls, and cookie dough. This may not be what your dentist had in mind when he told you to put your floss to good use, but hey it is pretty brilliant!

Throwing Out Old Starter

Many recipes call for discarding half of your start before activating it. You can follow this advice, but why? I have never needed to throw anything out and I find ways to use it, including just putting more of it into a loaf I am making. You can use it for pancakes, waffles, pizza crust, cornbread, biscuits, baguettes, and nearly any other thing you might be baking that day. On our site, we have recipes every Saturday that can use up extra if you have it. Besides this list, there are all your own favorite recipes you might try adding it to. PJ Hamel offers this easy formula to use when adding sourdough stater your favorite recipes:

“Here’s the rule of thumb: sourdough starter is equal parts (by weight) flour and liquid. Say you want to use 1 cup (8 ounces) sourdough starter in your favorite sandwich bread recipe. If your recipe calls for 3 cups flour (approx. 12 ounces) and 1 cup water (8 ounces), reduce the flour in the recipe to 2 cups (8 ounces), and the water to 1/2 cup (4 ounces).
“This works pretty seamlessly for any recipe including both flour, and water or milk. Don’t substitute sourdough starter for eggs or oil or butter or honey or other liquids; it will change your recipe’s character.”

Forget Perfection!

I gave up trying to be the perfect gluten-free baker a long time ago.  Well, I still feel bad sometimes about my failings, but for the most part I've accepted that I am aiming for health--not perfect replication of fake-food goodies. Case in point: The other day, I made gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.  Not sure what went wrong with these.  They were kind of gritty (I'm now wondering if my Blendtec didn't really get the flour so fine after all :-(.) and they fell completely apart after baking. The ones I let cool longer in the pan held together better, but still--we're talking crumb city. Anyway, I'd made them for a charity dinner function we were going to so the "men" in my family ate them up regardless of the fact that they were crumbs (I was a little embarrassed as they ate crumbs at our table.  It was a casual event--but still :-).) The Homemade "Almond Joy" Bars I made the next day are disappearing faster than the "crumble cookies" but they'll be eaten at some point. They weren't the greatest, but that's OK ;-). Ready to use your new Gluten-Free Baking Techniques to make some Gluten-Free Goodies?  How about trying:

Take your Time

I’ve watched so many seasons of The Great British Bake Off on which the contestants must always bake cheesecake at some point. My favourite baking show cheesecake episode is however from The Great Australian Bake Off S1-E6. So shocking that they only had 2,5 hours to make it though! If you rush yourself to make a perfect cheesecake, I can guarantee that a whole lot of things will go wrong!

Cheesecake is like good American BBQ – LOW AND SLOW.

I actually LOVE the fact that cheesecake takes such a long time to bake. My recipe typically bakes for 1 hour, then I turn it and bake it for another 40 minutes. That gives you two massive brackets of time to do something else while the lazy cheesecake just hangs out in the oven. It might be a tad irresponsible, but I’ve gone grocery shopping so many times while the cheesecake is baking. Who has time to watch a cheesecake bake? It would probably take less time to watch paint dry. So to clarify; perfect cheesecake takes a long time to make yes, but 75% of it is PASSIVE time in which you can do something else. Don’t let the long baking time put you off making it.

Room Temperature Ingredients

If your ingredients are not at room temperature, they will struggle to combine into a smooth batter. Perfect cheesecake is made with room temperature ingredients. Cream cheese can be especially difficult to smooth out when it is cold because of its higher fat content. Butter, for example, is solid fat. Have you ever tried creaming ice-cold butter? Impossible. Also be sure to use room temperature eggs.

If I am being honest, I always use the cream/sour cream straight from the fridge because I don’t want it to go off while standing at room temperature. But room temperature cream cheese and eggs are essential.

Make Neapolitan Pizza In A Frying Pan

This method mimics the high temperatures of a wood fired oven which cause the pizza to take on a different style – the Neapolitan.

  • Preheat the top heating element in your oven (i.e the broiler/grill from above).
  • Put a frying pan on high heat on the hob.
  • Stretch the dough and place it dry in the frying pan.
  • Add toppings and cook for a minute or two until the bottom of the base has browned.
  • Transfer the pan to the highest shelf of the oven and cook for 2 minutes more until golden. This technique is great as it is no fuss – no peels or stones for things to go wrong. The pizza it creates is very tender and soft. It won’t cut into slices – you will need a knife and fork for this one like you are in Italy. You can see it creates a lovely crust, which gets slightly leopard spotted from the top heat.

Use Less Yeast

You don’t need to use as much yeast as most recipes recommend, and by reducing this you can avoid that strong yeasty flavor that most beginner bakers will encounter. Most beginner recipes are aimed at making pizza in a few hours and so skip the long fermentation process. Because of the speed, you need the yeast to act quickly for the dough to have air bubbles. But if you are proofing your dough for longer, say 24-48 hours, then you don’t need this large amount of yeast. The extra time gives the yeast longer to feed on sugars and breakdown starch to produce CO2 bubbles and flavor. Try reducing your yeast to 0.1-0.5% of the total flour weight.

Add More Water To Your Dough

If you add more water to the dough, it becomes less dense and so cooks better – the texture will be tender and light with more air holes. It will actually become more crispy because the extra water makes steam which puffs up the dough as it cooks. The trade off with extra water is a dough which is harder to work with – it becomes very sticky when trying to knead it. You can get better at this as your skills improve. I tend to use a dough scraper to gather the dough after every other knead with the left hand. So take the dough as wet as you can without compromising your shaping technique. Different flours can take different amounts of water, but try for around 65% water to flour ratio. You can then push this a bit higher if you want to experiment.