How to start baking masterpieces

Learn the lingo, get the tech and you'll be creating biscuits and bread that take the cake

24 Jul 2020

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Step 1: Get ideas and inspo

Naturally, you can search the web for recipes to get you started. But if you’re looking for some great cakey visuals to fire you up, you’ll find loads of accounts dedicated to baking on Pinterest and Instagram – covering everything from tiered wedding cakes to French fancies. If you like your recipes in video form, YouTube is an almost endless resource for step-by-step baking guides.

Tip: Save getting your screens covered in flour. Use virtual assistants (like Google or Alexa) to help you follow along with recipes hands free.

 

Step 2: Fill your kitchen with the basics

Until you’re equipped with mixing bowls, a rolling pin, a sieve etc, you don’t stand a chance of whipping up a masterpiece. Trust us on this. Not sure what you should have on your list? Fortunately we’ve knocked together a list of 10 things every baker needs. Large, white hat optional.

Step 3: Learn the lingo

Just because you’re new to the joys of cake making, there’s no need to sound like a baking beginner. Here are some top techniques to master:

 

  • Creaming

Creaming is all about mixing up your cake batter ingredients in a way that will turn out best results. The classic creaming method starts with beating room-temperature butter into sugar until light and fluffy.

Then slowly in go the eggs gradually, before the dry ingredients are gently folded in. If that sounds like all too much to handle, you can find a mixer that can do it all for you.

 

  • Tempering

You know that drool-making glossy chocolate you can on profiteroles or doughnuts? That’s all about tempering.

It’s all about melting and cooling chocolate to specific temperatures, while stirring throughout.

  1. Use a bain-marie (where you place a bowl in hot water) to melt chocolate until it reaches 45°C.
  2. As soon as you see the magic 45, move the bowl into ice water. Once it drops to 27°C, it goes back to the heat.
  3. Let the chocolate mix get to 29°C – then it’s good to go.

How can you be sure you’re getting it right? Our tip is to use a good quality digital thermometer. We’ve got a few different types.

 

  • Kneading

Kneading helps develop the strands of gluten in the flour. Translation? Kneading makes the dough more elastic and is the difference between rock hard bread and a fluffy loaf. But don’t over-knead or the dough will lose its elasticity.

While practise makes perfect, you can skip all the dodgy bakes and go straight to picking a decent stand mixer with a good dough hook. We’ve got some great options if you’re new to mixers and processors.

Or you could skip straight to a great bread maker. We won’t tell.

  • Piping

If you want your cakes, eclairs and buns to look the business, it’s all about the piping skills. Make sure you hold the piping bag with one hand (your squeezing hand) and just above the nozzle with the other – your aiming hand.

It’s all about maintaining a steady, even flow to make sure your icing comes out at a consistent rate.

 

  • Stiff peaks

If you’re whipping up meringues, you’ll need to know how to recognise a stiff peak when one crops up. Once you start whisking up your eggs - go with an electric whisk if you want to save your arms – your egg whites will start to hold their shape. Keep whisking away until you reach really firm, stiff peaks.

How will you know? If you hold the bowl of whisked up whites over your head, the whites will stay where they are. Not sure if you’re at that stage? There’s only one way to find out. Though you may get egg on your face if you’re wrong.

Need a hand? Don’t sweat it. Check out our breakdown of the best baking tech.

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