How to succeed at home baking
PriceSpy’s top tips on how to become the ultimate home baker
Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, we are all spending more time at home. With many shops and bakeries being forced to close down during this lockdown, baking and kitchen equipment are getting increasingly popular. If you want to learn a new skill or just use up what you’ve got in your kitchen, we’ll give you some top tips on how even the most novice of bakers can create some magic.
Invest in good-quality baking equipment
Having the right, non-stick bakeware makes baking a lot easier. Silicone spatulas prevent mess and are easier to use, not to mention clean. When it comes to trays, a flimsy tray can cause your cake to bake unevenly. Non-stick silicone baking mats, or Silpat liners, are popular substitutes for a traditional well-greased pan or baking paper.
Another good investment is an oven thermometer. However good your oven, the temperature gauge will likely be inaccurate. An oven thermometer you place in the centre of the oven so that you’ll always know the exact temperature. It’s a cheap investment but makes a massive difference to your baking.
And remember that if you use a mini cooker, reduce the heat as well as the cooking time.
Read through the recipe and prepare your ingredients
It might feel obvious that you should read through the recipe before you start baking, however, it’s important that you’re prepared for the next step in the process for it to succeed. Reading ahead will ensure you understand what you’re about to do next, and everything will flow a little better.
The next step is to set up your ingredients. If you’ve got all your ingredients out and prepared, there is less chance of something going wrong as you won’t need to stress getting everything out whilst baking.
Weigh your ingredients
Measuring cups may vary so a good idea is to invest in a digital scale for the precise quantities your recipe requires. Baking is a bit like science and with a scale, you can make sure that your measurements are correct and the dough you make has the right consistency. Most recipes worldwide today are measured in grams, which also leaves less room for errors compared to measuring in cups and volume. And when it comes to flour, this can mean the difference between a cake that is dense or one that is nice and fluffy.
Here you’ll find all the kitchen scales on PriceSpy.
Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature before you start
Room temperature is key. Most recipes call for room temperature butter (unless you’re making scones or pie crust). Ingredients at room temperature emulsify much easier into batter or dough and create a more uniform texture throughout your cake or bread. This goes for both butter and other dairy products such as eggs and milk for example, which add more volume to the dough at room temperature. If the recipe calls for melted butter, it should be lukewarm and liquified as if it’s too hot it can cook the eggs in your batter. So plan ahead and bring out the butter an hour before or even the night before.
What is of equal importance is same-temperature ingredients. Add cold things to cold things and hot things to hot ingredients to avoid the cake separating or splitting. Many recipes call for tempering the ingredients before adding them, which means that you slowly bring up the temperature of an ingredient sensitive to heat to prevent it from cooking too fast.
Invest in a good kitchen mixer
Some people argue that you won’t get as even a batter or dough by mixing the ingredients together by hand. So a good investment might be a kitchen or hand mixer for cakes or a bread maker for bread. It’s a good way of mixing the ingredients efficiently and fast while you can prepare for the next step. Most kitchen mixers come with a mixer blade or flat beater for cake mixtures, a whisk for eggs, sauces and whipping cream, and a dough hook for bread.
Make sure you do some research before buying. There are plenty of good mixers on the market so consider what you’ll be using it for, how often you’ll use it and how much space you’ve got in your kitchen to store it. If you’re just planning on using it for making cakes, it might suffice with a simple model. The bigger, expensive models take up a lot of room, so if this is impractical you might be better off buying a smaller version that you’ll end up using more. However, if you’re going to use it every day, it’s worth investing in a more advanced appliance that you can add attachments to and that can do more than just mixing.
Here are all the stand mixers on PriceSpy.
The bread maker does the job for you
When it comes to making bread, there are brilliant and easy ways of waking up to the smell of freshly made bread. A bread maker can be the answer to the lack of a nearby bakery, being in control of what goes in the bread and reducing time and energy (it requires less energy to make bread in a bread maker than in a traditional oven). They are easy to use and prepare, and can be left without supervision. You can throw all ingredients in the bread pan the night before, time it for when you wake up, and voilà, a delicious loaf is ready.
When buying a bread maker, consider what’s important to you. As a bread maker costs somewhere between £30 and £200, it’s worth deciding what you’re going to use it for. Basic bread makers tend to have a range of functions but generally, the more you spend, the more functions you’ll get. A ‘keep warm’ function and a delay timer may be of importance if you’ve got a busy lifestyle. Some bread machines can also make cakes, so if you’re planning to use your machine often this might be an important feature. What’s more, you’ll have a fantastic choice of different breads to make and try, for example gluten-free, wholemeal, French farm bread and more.
A bread maker does take up quite a lot of space, so choose a machine that you can easily store, and perhaps you might want to check the noise level. Make sure to also take a look at the instructions that come with your bread maker to see what sort of yeast is recommended.
Here are all the bread makers on PriceSpy.