Help and advice

Baking without the farce

Fans of the Great British Bake Off (GBBO) are likely to have enjoyed the recent Comic Relief specials, if nothing else as a way of tiding them over until the next series. However, if you’ve felt renewed enthusiasm for baking, you may want to try and avoid some of the show’s less-than-stellar entries, such as Chris Moyle’s raw crumpets or Jameela Jamil putting oil into her meringue mixture instead of vinegar…Mary Berry is not amused.GBBO) are likely to have enjoyed the recent Comic Relief specials, if nothing else as a way of tiding them over until the next series. However, if you’ve felt renewed enthusiasm for baking, you may want to try and avoid some of the show’s less-than-stellar entries, such as Chris Moyle’s raw crumpets or Jameela Jamil putting oil into her meringue mixture instead of vinegar…Mary Berry is not amused.

To help your showstopper challenge go without a hitch, here are some of the key things to remember when you break out the mixing bowl and apron. Many things will vary by recipe, but the fundamentals of good baking are the basis of consistent, successful results.

Know your oven

There are several different temperature scales used on ovens. These are gas marks, fahrenheit and centigrade. They are very different, so make sure you check before you put your creation in to cook. What’s more, fan ovens tend to get much hotter than other kinds, so if there is not a specific temperature listed for this variety, take 20 degrees off the temperature in centigrade to avoid burning.

Ovens also vary in how long they take to heat up. While erring on the side of caution is the best choice in this area, with a little experience you will learn how your oven tends to behave, possibly saving you time in the long run.

Mixing

The number-one rule for creating perfectly fluffy cakes is to make sure that you mix it more than you think you will need to. This is because mixing helps get air into the batter, meaning that the cake rises better.

Measuring

While baking is definitely an art, the proportions of the ingredients are a much more scientific business, and they need to be spot-on. Make sure that you have an accurate set of scales, as this is an essential element of getting it right. It’s also important to pour or spoon the ingredients in slowly, to avoid putting far too much on the scales.

When it comes to baking agents like bicarbonate of soda, accuracy is even more important. A set of accurate measuring spoons can be purchased very cheaply, and are a great help in ensuring everything is well-balanced.

Attention to detail

Precision is vital to many other areas of baking as well. For example, sieving flour as you add it to the batter is necessary to avoid any weird lumps in the finished product. Despite what David Mitchell may tell you, it is actually a very easy process, particularly once you understand how to gently tap the sieve to help the process along.

Timing

Once your work is in the oven, it’s vital to take it out on time. It’s easy to forget, so set a timer, whether on your phone or a dedicated device, and put it in your pocket. This means that even if you leave the room to attend to other tasks, you’ll still get the reminder to take your goodies out loud and clear.


© Axonn 2015