It is much easier to cream eggs, butter and sugar at room-temperature butter than trying to use these direct from the fridge. This is a step you should not ignore. Many baked goods start by creaming together butter and sugar, which is made much easier with gently warmed ingredients.
If you're going to bake, you must plan ahead. For good results leave eggs and butter out of the fridge for a least a couple of hours or overnight.
As it is important to use room-temperature ingredients it is equally important to mix ingredients of the same temperature i.e. Add hot things to hot things, and cold things to cold things.
Example: If you pour hot milk or cream over chilled chocolate, the cocoa fat can separate, making your chocolate sauce look oily and unappealing. That's why many recipes call for tempering a hot ingredient with a cooler one. As this ensures that the emulsion won't separate.
Mixing bowls, glass and metal ones that work best as makeshift double-boilers. Non-stick coatings can flake off over time, so best to avoid them. A well-greased pan a liner, or a sheet of parchment paper in most cases are better.
Some recipes call for a greased and/or floured baking container, this is for a reason. The batter or dough mixture has the potential to stick to the container, so make sure it is well buttered. Make sure all corners and edges of the baking container are generously and thoroughly coated this means getting into all the seams where the bottom and sides meet.
If you're also flouring the container, add more than enough to cover and tip the container to coat it completely, then tip the excess flour out. Also be careful where you hold the container as you don’t want to get finger marks on the interior leave the container exposed, giving the opportunity for the batter or dough to stick.
Use digital scales to weigh your ingredients. A good digital scale doesn’t cost much and eliminates all the guesswork. With baking, it is important that you measure ingredients and unlike a lot of other cooking you won’t be able to taste during the cooking/baking process
If a recipe calls for baking soda/baking powder or bicarbonate of soda, make sure you use products that are not beyond their sell-by date. Throw any old ingredients out, buy new.
The majority of ingredients used in baked goods—like baking soda, baking powder, yeast, and flour have a relatively short shelf life, so if you don't use them frequently, purchase them in small quantities so they don't sit in your cupboard. If you're not sure how fresh an ingredient is, either buy new ones or test them. To check the freshness of baking powder, pour boiling water over a small quantity—if it bubbles, it's still fresh.
Old bicarbonate of soda can be used to keep your fridge free from smells. So if you need new for baking pour the old into a small bowl and leave this in your fridge to keep it smelling fresh.
Follow the recipes and processes as instructed. Don’t try and make shortcuts. Creaming together butter and sugar with a handheld or stand mixer, for example, should be done before the addition of wetter ingredients, like eggs. Why? The fat in butter holds air, and, when whipped, expands. In the creaming process, sharp sugar granules slice through the butter, creating air pockets that ultimately give the pastry lift.
Read the instructions like; cream until light and fluffy, mix until just combined or fold in gently. Overmixing overdevelops gluten and can deflate the air pockets you worked so hard to create.
Salt isn't necessarily in a recipe to make it taste salty, it's usually there to keep the baked good from tasting flat or overly sweet. Salt makes other ingredients, like vanilla, almond, lemon, and sugar more vibrant
Every oven has a hot spot, and if you don't correct for it, you run the risk of unevenly cooked pastries or worse, some that burn or under-baked. When a recipe calls for turning 180 degrees halfway through the process, don't ignore it. If the back of your oven is hotter than the front, you need to give every corner and side of your concoction the same treatment. Don't, however, open the oven constantly to check on progress—it'll lower the temperature and alter the baking time.
If you use a fan assisted oven then some bakes are best started with a foil cover which is removed for the last several minutes of cooking to allow to brown.
No two ovens are the same so first, find out if your oven runs hot or cold—if you know that it's consistently 25 degrees colder than what you set it at, adjust accordingly. A thermometer that lives inside your oven will eliminate any guessing. Equally important is that you set and use a timer. It's easy to get distracted while your cake bakes, so don't rely on your memory to alert you that time's up.
A completely cooled pastry has allowed the steam to totally evaporate, making the cake, bread etc easier to handle. However, some desserts and pastries must be removed from their pans as soon as they come out of the oven, like a tarte tatin.
A recipe that includes white sugar is a recipe relies on the science of how it will interact with the other ingredients. Sugar does a whole lot more than sweeten, it also adds colour, texture, moisture, and aeration. And don't think you can get away with slashing out half of the sugar in a recipe for a healthier version assume that everything in the recipe is there for a reason.
Most, if not all, the bakes on this website don’t require expensive equipment. However, a good strong baking tray is worth investing in. Non-stick loaf tins, a baguette baking tray and a bread dough lame (pronounced lamb) for cutting dough.
A plastic shower cap can come in useful to cover large bowels when your dough is proving, it saves on the cling film!
Wooden spoons for stiring things and if you are into steam puddings then a steamer.