Baking Tips and Tricks
Baking Powder: Don’t use a wet (even slightly wet) measuring spoon to dip into a can of baking powder. Moisture, and even humidity, will deactivate the powder.
Chocolate Melting: When melting chocolate in the microwave, heat dark chocolate at 50% power and milk and white chocolate at 30% power. Stir every 15 seconds, heating until it’s just melted.
Cocoa Powder: To eliminate lumps, stir just enough liquid into the cocoa to make a stiff paste, stir and mash until the paste is smooth, then stir in the rest of the liquid gradually.
Flour: For a light, even coating of flour, put flour into a salt shaker and use this to flour a cake or muffin pan or to flour a work surface for pastry.
Nut-Toasting: Put a baking sheet in the oven while it’s preheating. Spread the nuts on the heated pan, they’ll brown evenly and quickly.
Nut-Grinding: Grind nuts with some sugar to prevent them from sticking or becoming oily.
Brown Sugar: Soften hard brown sugar quickly by sprinkling a few drops of water on it and microwaving on low for 15 to 20 seconds.
Storing Butter: To keep butter as fresh as possible, store it tightly wrapped away from the light on the back of the shelf in your refrigerator.
Soften Butter: For a spur of the moment baking item that calls for softened butter, soften butter with warm sugar. Heat granulated sugar in the microwave for 2 minutes (long enough to heat but not melt), then proceed with creaming the butter and sugar as usual. The sugar will warm the butter to about room temperature during mixing.
Buttermilk: Make your own buttermilk by adding either 1 tablespoon of lemon or lime juice to 1 cup of room-temperature whole milk. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Whipping Heavy Cream: The colder the cream is, the faster it whips, so at least 20 to 30 minutes before you intend to make whipped cream, put your bowl and beaters in the freezer.
Separating Eggs: Eggs separate easiest when they’re cold.
Room-Temperature Eggs: To quickly bring eggs to room temperature, submerge them (still in their shells) in a bowl of warm tap water for 5 to 10 minutes.
Whipping Egg Whites: For the best volume when whipping egg whites, wipe down the mixer and beaters with white vinegar to ensure they’re free of any lingering oil or grease.