Baking tips I have learnt so far..

Being a novice baker means it is very easy to make mistakes, here are a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way and I hope you find them useful.

  • Always use the specified sized tin that the recipe states for baking, it can affect the way the cake is cooked if the wrong size tin is used.
  • I usually fill cupcake cases to 2/3 full, whether I use mini / cupcake / muffin cases.
  • Try not to open the oven door when baking until the cakes are ready to come out of the oven – the cold air can cause the sponge to sink in and spoil the cakes.
  • Baking times aren’t always accurate and it is dependent on your oven, so be sure to check your cakes are properly cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre, if it comes out clean then presto!
  • Whisking the mixture is very important. Undermixing = sponge will sink in the middle. Overmixing = sponge forms a peak. Just the right amount of mixing = perfectly flat sponge. When it cools, the sponge will dip a tiny bit in the middle but that tends to be normal.
  • Icing sugar is a nightmare to whisk, it tends to fly everywhere and you end up inhaling some or covered in most of it. If you cover the bowl with a damp tea towel whilst you whisk, it should reduce the icing sugar cloud – this tends to be easier with free standing mixers. The alternative is to blend the butter and icing sugar by hand until it is well combined, this shouldn’t take too long if the butter is quite soft, having been left at room temperature.
  • The longer you whisk buttercream icing, the lighter and fluffier it becomes. I have found that between 5 – 10 minutes is best.
  • To fix a ‘broken’ chocolate ganache, where the butter and chocolate have separated causing a runny mixture, you should split the ganache in half. Heat up one half and cool down the other half, then add one to the other and mix again.
  • Always use room temperature butter, if the recipe says to. You should never melt the butter in a microwave unless it specifically tells you to – this is definitely the case with buttercream icing. Melting the butter will cause the buttercream to become very runny and it’s not fixed easily by whisking for 5 – 10 minutes.
  • When adding liquid ingredients, I tend to add a little at a time and mix well between each batch to make sure everything has been combined.
  • Typically, you should place whatever you are baking in the middle shelf of the oven.
  • Generally, you can’t substitute self-raising flour with plain flour because it contains raising agents which can affect the overall outcome of the cake.
  • When adding edible decorations (e.g. sugar sprinkles) to your cupcakes, if you have used buttercream icing, then always sprinkle after each cupcake otherwise the icing hardens and nothing sticks.

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