Baking Tips for Clueless Beginners

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A few things I’ve learned while taking on my relatively new hobby of baking.

  1. Never ever substitute butter with margarine or any other butter substitute. When a baking recipe calls for butter, they mean butter and only butter. My first lesson learned on baking was the mistake of using margarine the first time I tried baking cookies by myself. What resulted were rows of unshapely globs.
  2. When baking cookies I tend to take them out of the oven not when they look crispy or golden brown but when they look like they are moist, usually 3 to 5 minutes earlier than the designated bake time. This should only be done if you enjoy chewy cookies.
  3. If you follow #2, wait a few minutes for the cookies to cool down, otherwise they might break when you lift them off the baking sheet.
  4. Follow exact measurements. Cooking is different from baking in that you can take liberties, but the latter is more of a science.
  5. If a recipe asks you to mix different ingredients in separate bowls, do it without question instead of using one bowl immediately. The reason for what can be interpreted as silliness has to do with chemistry, which I’m not very good at, but what I do know is that you should follow the steps to a tee to get the ideal texture and taste out of your baking project.
  6. Read over the ingredients list and make sure that you have everything you need in the proper amounts. Maybe this goes without saying, but when I was a baking beginner I was really clueless.
  7. Especially when I’m trying something new I like to read over the steps a few times so that I have the process worked out in my head as I go into it.
  8. When melting chocolate in the microwave, do it in small time increments, say 20 seconds with stirring in between to avoid burnt chocolate. The same could happen for chocolate that is melted in the pan, so always keep that on low heat. Just remember: constant stirring, low heat.
  9. This goes for both cooking and baking beginners: keep it simple. There are plenty of simple recipes that can help you ease into the wonderful world of baking. Once you get the hang of them, you can take on more challenging recipes.
  10. Don’t get frustrated if you struggle at first, if you keep going at it you’ll get the hang of baking.

Best luck on your kitchen endeavors.

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