The internet is full of hacks - but when it comes to baking hacks which ones are worth the effort and which ones should be thrown straight in the bin?
Here are the Baking Hacks I use and lose.
1. Always freeze your cookie dough balls for 30 minutes before baking. Cookies, I find, are best made with real block butter. But once it's mixed the fats in the butter start to soften. If you bake them when the fats are soft the cookies will start to spread when they bake. But if you freeze them, when they bake, they will caramelise on the outside before the inside melts and spreads too much. Meaning you get cookies that are crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle.
2. Don't waste money on pre-made cake release. For years I have always used butter or baking spread smeared on the sides on my pans and greaseproof paper on the bottom. Or if you do like a cake release make your own using this recipe: Cake Goop - Homemade Cake Release
3. Use pre-cut greaseproof circles. How many hours do you waste drawing and cutting greaseproof circles to line your tins. Did you know you can buy them pre-cut?! I use 6" circles for 5" and 6" tins, 8" circles for 7" and 8" tins etc. so I don't have to stock ones for every sized tin. If you buy them in bulk the cost will work out the same or less than rolls of uncut paper.
4. Always pre-heat your oven and batch bake whenever you can. Power is expensive at the moment so get the most out of it. Sammie once wisely said on the podcast "never waste a hot oven". Try batch baking and freezing cake layers all in one go, or maybe get your baking done just before you're going to put the dinner in the oven.
5. Use an old fashioned ice-cream scoop to scoop your cupcake batter into the tins. It's quick, easy and ensures you always get the same amount of batter per cake.
6. If you don't have buttermilk and you need it for a recipe you can make your own. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 100ml milk and leave a few minutes to curdle.
7. Did you forget to take your butter out of the fridge to soften ready to make buttercream? Cut your butter into 1" cubes and immerse it in lukewarm water. Leave for 5 minutes and when softened drain and it should be ready to use.
8. Freezing buttercream is a well known hack. But what happens if all your buttercream is lots of different colours that you won't be able to use again? Freeze it all, and then when you have a chocolate cake to decorate defrost it, mix it all together and add cocoa for chocolate buttercream. OR make my Leftover Buttercream Cookies.
9. Want flat tops on your cakes? Bake them low and slow. There are many options to getting a flat top. Personally I don't bother with anything like baking belts as they are a bit of a faff. I bake at 150 degrees. That way the cake batter all cooks at the same rate, rising together and baking with a flat top.
10. Burnt is burnt! There are lots of baking hacks for getting rid of burnt edges - for example grating the burnt bottoms of cookies. However, none of them work. Once something is burnt and the taste has permeated through the bake, scraping off the black bits won't stop the charred taste.
For more information about baking listen to our episode Our Top Baking Tips.
This post first appeared as a Newsletter in August 2022. To join my Newsletter fill in your email below - I promise, no spam, just good business advise.