Fall is just around the corner — and with the change in season comes not only preparing for the colder months ahead, but getting back into a routine with your family. From hearty yet healthy recipes that will delight even the pickiest eater to tips on how to make your home more comfortable, Canadian Tire is making sure you’re Ready For everything the season has in store.
There’s something about baking that elicits feelings of comfort and warmth, making it an activity that’s perfectly suited for cold fall days.
Sure, you might experience a few baking fails in the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, baking is truly a joy, and a skill you can continuously work on and improve. You certainly won’t regret the extra time and effort when you finally pull a tray of perfectly gooey on the inside and crispy on the outside cookies from the oven.
As the weather cools and you swap BBQs for bake-offs, here are some pro baking tips to ensure you get perfect results every time.
Get a kitchen scale
Baking requires precision and, contrary to popular belief, using measuring cups is far from foolproof. Flour and other dry ingredients can be packed too tight (or loose) in a measuring cup and that can leave a certain amount of variability, which will affect your results.
Bread recipes are especially sensitive and need to be measured to the gram. Don’t expect Jamie Geller’s acclaimed Challah recipe to come easily. Which is why a digital kitchen scale is a must-have tool to elevate your baking from novice to pro.
Measuring out your ingredients by using a kitchen scale is a surefire way to ensure you’re always adding the correct amount. The Starfrit Digital Kitchen Scale measures weight and volume accurately and is capable of automatically converting units too.
Get acquainted with your ingredients
It’s said baking is a science and that couldn’t be more true. Combining various ingredients that react to one another to achieve a desired result is essentially a science experiment; the only difference is it’s done in your kitchen instead of a lab. (And you get to eat the finished product!)
So if you want the best results while baking, it’s important to understand the function of each ingredient you’re adding to your mixing bowl. How will adding a bit more baking powder or less baking soda affect your chocolate chip cookies? It won’t take much time to read up on what these baking ingredients bring to the table, and it will give you a better understanding of what each component brings to the table, and why. For example, eggs act as a binding agent, while fats add flavour, richness and serve as a leavening agent in some cases.
As you dig into the science of baking, you’ll realize how complex it can be, so it’s good practice to have a basic understanding of common wet and dry ingredients. This knowledge will also help you figure out where you went wrong when you inevitably have to feed a batch to the dogs.
Make sure you have all the basics
For all the reasons we just mentioned, improvising as you bake won’t yield very good results. Not using the proper mixer attachment or pouring your batter into the wrong size pan can completely undermine all the hard work and effort you put in.
Even beginner bakers should have a set of baking sheets and pans in various sizes. The MASTER Chef Bakeware Set, 7-pc is an all-around winner when it comes to price point and includes a good variety of sheets and pans. Another great baking ally to have is the MASTER Chef Bake Prep Set, 12-pc, which includes all the basic tools you need when starting out, from mixing bowls to measuring cups.
While a stand mixer is a gamechanger, it’s not necessary as a beginner. Once you feel like you’ve graduated from beginner to novice, reward yourself with a trusty Cuisinart Precision Master Stand Mixer.
Practice practice practice
We probably don’t have to convince you that practicing and going through a trial-and-error phase will only make you a better baker. Then, as you get more comfortable following a recipe and understanding each ingredient’s function, you can start to experiment. Maybe you want a cake recipe to have a lighter texture or you want to develop a tighter crumb with your bread. You can take small liberties to get your desired result but that comes with...you guessed it, practice.
You may also want to upgrade or expand your baking arsenal as you attempt more complex recipes. Perhaps you’ll find you prefer silicone baking sheets and pans, or that you get better results baking bread in a dutch oven. A non-stick cooling rack and dough scoop, meanwhile, can help take your cookie game up a notch, while more advanced bakers working with pastry and bread doughs swear by investing in a bench scraper and pastry blender.
Join a baking group or community
Along with practicing, consulting with other baking enthusiasts will help you improve and expand your baking knowledge. Talking to like-minded people through an online baking group or an in-person class is also an excellent way to get inspired with new recipes.
You might even discover easy recipes for baked goods you thought would be too difficult to make. Yeast-based recipes like focaccia bread may seem daunting as they involve leavening, but we have a no-knead focaccia recipe from Bon Appétit that’s every bit as “shockingly easy” as advertised.