A Few Baking Tips for Novice Chefs

By: Jatinder Kataria

A Few Baking Tips for Novice Chefs

Baking can be an intimidating process when one is first learning. Images of smoke pouring out of the oven and rock hard rolls can haunt thoughts of preparing a Thanksgiving dinner. But have no fear; there are a few simple ways to avoid the confusion and stress that comes with baking. The first key is to gain a basic understanding of what you are looking to make such as ingredients, and the baking process.

Read the recipe thoroughly before turning on the oven. Make sure you understand the process and ingredients involved in what you are looking to make. It will not be enough to simply know the recipe; you need to understand the recipe as well. Keep a basic dictionary of baking terms handy to look up anything that confuses you about the recipe. A good dictionary can explain the differences between chopping, dicing and other methods of cutting fruits and vegetables. It will inform you about the types of pans you will be instructed to use. Beyond all of that, it can explain the different techniques that may be required by some recipes. This resource is vital when you are learning to bake. It can guide you through just about anything.

Once you have figured the recipe out, the actual cooking is often fairly easy. But there is a little more to the process then simply pre-heating the oven, putting in your baked good and getting back in time to take it out. Be sure to check on things every once and a while to make sure everything is cooking properly. Some ovens tend to work at temperatures slightly higher or lower then those listed on the dial. This can be disastrous if you stick too closely to the timer. Look closely at the recipe so that you know how things are meant to turn out, and you will be able to take your baked good out of the oven with perfect timing.

If you are still nervous about baking, there is a simple way to build confidence. Begin by baking cookies. These delights are perhaps the easiest baked good to create, but are challenging enough to serve as building blocks to more complex recipes. Many cookie recipes can be produced in a relatively short amount of time, making them perfect to fit into your busy schedule. Mixing the dough is pretty basic. Another advantage is that most cookies use similar ingredients. This makes them simple and easy to make. When you have made your dough, you should keep it chilled in between batches. It can also benefit the process if you cool your baking sheets by running water over the back of them before placing them in the oven. If you like to make your cookies softer, use less butter or margarine. All in all cookies are a perfect place to begin and experiment.

Once your cookies are completed things can get a bit tricky. Storage can be quite the predicament. If your cookies are soft you will want to put them in a container with a tight lid and a slice of apple. Having the apple in the container will help keep the cookies from drying out so they will stay nice and soft. If your final product is meant to stay crispy you will want a loose lid. This will keep air moving and prevent the cookies from taking in moisture from the air. If it is especially humid you can add a piece of bread to the jar. The bread will take in the moisture and prevent your crispy cookies from becoming stale. When all of this has been taken care of you are free to enjoy your delicious dessert.

One of the frustrations with baking is what to do after finishing your recipe. Cakes, cookies and breads need to be kept fresh, and sometimes this can be a difficult task. Many baked goods can be stored in a freezer for long periods of time. There are a few easy steps to ensure that your baked good will handle freezing. Having plastic wrap, heavy aluminum foil and heavy plastic containers handy is very important if you are going to freeze your product. If your recipe has a topping of some sort, place it on a cookie sheet and wrap it. Be sure to unwrap it again before defrosting. It is also helpful to double wrap everything to make sure it stays sealed. You should also make sure to mark your product with the date that you placed it into the freezer in case you forget about it at any point. Not all baked goods can be frozen, so be sure to experiment before you depend too heavily on freezing.

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