This post first appeared as a guest post at a fellow Malaysian mother’s blog in 2011. I’ve edited it to repost here because it is still relevant – I am occasionally a disaster in kitchen.
I have a page of recipes, many of which are some of my favorite things to bake and cook. It may give you the impression that I’m rather good at it.
Pssst – a little secret? I’m not, really.
I’m a trial-and-error-sometime baker, and I’ve had my fair share of baking disasters. Here are four hard-earned tips on how to avoid them.
Use a recipe
If you remember the proportions of flour, butter, sugar and all the other ingredients you need in a recipe…. well, you’re not real and if you are, you don’t have to read this post. If you’re a normal person like me, use a recipe. Guesswork is not going to fly here. Baking is chemistry, you need the right amounts of each ingredient to ensure your carrot muffins do not turn out rock hard (yes, this happened to me).
Before you start weighing, sifting, mixing, whisking and pouring? Always preheat the oven first. Next, prepare the muffin tray/ cake tin/ cookie tray. Then make sure you have all the tools you need at hand – weighing machine, mixer, mixing bowl and so on. Next, line up all the ingredients you need.
Read the instructions
Okay, you have the recipe. Read it. Read it again. Then read it a third time. When you face a slightly more complicated recipe than ‘Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then mix’, chances are you WILL scramble around if you don’t read the recipe correctly.
Case in point: I made honey cake once, and assumed (hah! NEVER assume anything in baking) that it was a simple mix wet with dry method. I then read the instructions again and realized I had to heat the honey with sugar first in a pan, THEN let it cool for at least 20 minutes, before I added it in with the egg. If I’d known that earlier, that would have been the first thing I started on. Instead, I wasted time standing around impatiently waiting for the honey mixture to cool, with nothing to do.
Also? When you read the instructions properly, you’ll be less likely to measure out the ingredients wrongly. 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract is very different from 2 tablespoons, just sayin’, ahem.
Make sure you have your computer on, and Google as your homepage
There have been instances when I was just seized by a desire to bake, and I look for a recipe. Then I find that I’m missing one or two ingredients, such as turbinado sugar (which I’m not familiar with at all). What do I do? Give up? Not bake that yummy cake I really want to eat?
No!! I turn to Google to look for a substitute ingredient. There are a million suggestions offered out there. Be careful to look through a few before you decide on a substitute, some sources are just not reliable. I usually look up baking sites.
Google is also helpful for converting quantities. I have recipes from all over the world, which use their own system of measurement. I always find out the recipe source, then convert the quantities to a measuring system I’m familiar with (that’d be metric), BEFORE I start baking.
What are you waiting for? Go forth and bake!
Have you had any fun stories of baking/ cooking disasters? Tell me!
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