As a second act in my career, I have been teaching myself how to bake.
From breads to desserts to chocolate, I am enamored with flour, sugar, butter and cream. The science of baking is a great mystery to me, and I am spending my days trying to unravel that delicious mystery. Here are a few tips I have learned along the way.
-You can’t make substitutions in baking unless you are very familiar with the formula or recipe.
-Let bread dough rise in a plastic bag, it can be punched down and kneaded without drying out.
-Egg whites warmed to room temperature before beating will yield greater volume.
-To soften warm butter, slice thinly into a warm bowl or if frozen, grate onto plastic wrap.
-Always assemble all your ingredients before you start baking and read the recipe carefully before you make it, as some recipe writers leave things out in the ingredient list.
-Use pasteurized eggs in vintage recipes calling for raw eggs as part of the dessert.
-Make your own buttermilk for a baking recipe by adding 1 tablespoon of white or cider vinegar to one cup of milk. Let stand 10 minutes and it will magically thicken.
-Date all of your baking soda and baking powder on top of the container so it can be easily seen.
-Parchment paper is handy for a multitude of tasks. It works great for pan liners, but for preventing cross contamination, only use the pan liner once and then discard.
-Melt chocolate in the microwave always at half power, stopping every 30 seconds to stir.
-Store your nuts and flour in the freezer, it will stay fresh longer.
-Buy different flours to have on hand for substituting in recipes from your local coop in the bulk section. The prices are good and the product is always fresh. Just remember to label what they are.
If you are interested in learning more about bread baking, join the Twin Ports Bread Club. You can find us on Facebook as “Twin Ports Bread Club” We gather quarterly to eat and talk bread.