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Basic tips to help you get started with the joyful journey of baking

Of all the forms of cooking that are in vogue today, baking is by far the most favourite all over the world. The delicious aroma from the oven fills the air and warms hearts. Baking is a healthier cooking option than frying, less time consuming than roasting, and requires far little supervision than grilling. The sight of your first baked muffin or cake is a hugely rewarding experience.

Why don’t you hone your baking skills this summer? If you are a newbie baker, let us tell you a bit about baking.

For beginners, a simple vanilla or plain chocolate cake would be a great start. Baking a perfect cake is the ultimate dream of a good cook, but let us tell you that a simple looking baking recipe can often be quite tricky to handle. It would be a wise thing to do to keep the following in mind before a beginner baking session.

Read the recipe thoroughly

This cannot be emphasised enough! Take your time to read the recipe carefully and go through every ingredient, every step, minutely. This will mentally prepare you for the whole procedure and ensure that you don’t falter along the way.  

Baking is about precision, so it’s very important that you are fully aware of the recipe before beginning. Read it a couple of times even, to make sure you have understood everything very clearly.

Gather all the ingredients

It is imperative that all the ingredients the recipe needs are lined up on your kitchen counter before you start baking. Check expiry dates on cartons, so you don’t end up using bad ingredients. It is a good idea to bring the cold ingredients to room temperature for even cooking. Sift dry ingredients well, to get a better cake texture. Familiarise yourself with different kinds of flours, sugars and oils.

Always remember that baking soda and baking powder are two different things, and are not interchangeable! Baking powder is a mix of acid and baking soda, while baking soda is just sodium bicarbonate.

Once you have got all the ingredients assembled, check the recipe again and ensure that you haven’t missed out anything.

Select and line a proper baking dish

Select a baking dish of the correct size and good quality. Prepare it by properly lining and dusting it right at the start. If the recipe requires that the cake tin be lined with butter paper, do that. It will save you sticky pan bottoms, and clean-ups will be easier.

Keep the measuring tools ready

It is always better to use a single cup measure for all ingredients, if the recipe calls for it. Otherwise, liquids (milk, oil, or water) should be measured out with a liquid measuring cup, while dry ingredients (sugar, flour, nuts, and cocoa powder) should be measured out using a dry measuring cup. The two will differ in measuring units. The science of baking involves mixing exact proportions of the ingredients mentioned in the recipe, and so that has to be sacredly followed.

Get the oven going

Always make sure to set the oven to the required temperature, as specified by the  recipe. This will ensure that the product bakes well. Do not increase or decrease heat midway through the cooking process. Also, resist the temptation to open the oven door repeatedly to peep at your cake! Most recipes ask you to ‘bake blind’, so make sure you do just that.

Always be careful while operating the oven. Keep mitts on when handling hot baking dishes.

Checking cake for doneness

Once the baking time is over and you see the cake leaving the sides of the pan, you have to check if it is baked through, with the help of a toothpick or skewer stick. At this point, wear mittens and open the oven door. On gently tapping, the cake must spring back. Carefully insert the toothpick into one side of the cake. It must come out clean. Repeat this on the centre of the cake. If the stick comes out clean, your cake is ready. If not, you can put it to bake for another 5 minutes. Repeat the checking process at the end of 5 minutes.

Cooling the cake

Remove the cake from the oven and let it stand on the kitchen counter for a few minutes. Loosen the cake carefully along the sides, by running a knife all around. Now, place a large plate over the cake pan. Hold the plate and the pan firmly together, and flip them upside down. Shake the pan softly, to transfer your cake from pan to platter. If your cake is especially delicate, gently tap the bottom of the pan a few times until you feel your cake release. Once your cake cools, you are free to either frost and decorate it or cut it neatly into chunks and preserve in cake boxes.

Now Try This!

Simple Sponge Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 100 gms Amul butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup castor sugar
  • A few drops of vanilla essence

Method:

  • Sift the dry ingredients – flour and baking powder.
  • Keep the butter out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes or till it starts melting at room temperature. Now mix it with the sugar.
  • Gently beat the eggs and add the sugar-butter mixer.
  • Add the egg mix to the dry ingredients and fold in along with the vanilla mixture. Now, pour the cake batter into a greased pan.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degree centigrade and put the cake to bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or till a toothpick comes out clean.
  • After your cake is baked, allow it to cool. Once cooled, slice, serve, and enjoy!

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