In our household, Brian does most of the cooking. I don’t think I’m a horrible cook, but I doubt myself a lot. My sister is so good about throwing together a dinner with no recipe. That scares me! I need a recipe and will follow it to a “T”.
My sister isn’t a baker and I think I’m good at baking because you really need to follow the recipe to a “T”. So, I will bake and she will cook when it comes to Holiday parties. If you want to bake, but you feel like you always get it wrong … don’t give up! Check out these helpful tips from Yahoo! and give it another try!
1. Substituting ingredients – Baking is an exact science. You can’t go crazy making substitutions then wonder why your cookies didn’t turn out like the photo.
2. Using old ingredients – Baking staples last for a while in your pantry, but they’re not immortal. Spices lose their potency after a year, so if you’ve been using the same little jars of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, etc., for the past few years, it’s time to heave-ho. Same goes for your baking powder and baking soda.
3. Not chilling the dough – Chilling is a buttery cookie dough’s best defense against becoming difficult to work with and spreading into a blob whilst baking. If your dough ever becomes too difficult to shape or roll, pop it in the fridge for 15-30 min. and try again. Then, once the cookies are cut, always chill them on the cookie sheet until very firm before making shapes.
4. Overusing the rolling pin – Every time you roll out dough, you’re “working” the dough. Gather, chill, and reroll scraps just once, then ditch whatever scraps remain from that batch.
5. Using your hands – Your hands are the best tools in the kitchen until, you know, they’re not. Instead of using your actual thumbs for thumbprints, use the floured, perfectly rounded end of a wooden spoon to make a much neater, more uniform indentation. Instead of using your hands to press the dough into the baking pan for the white chocolate macadamia nut bars, add the dough to the baking pan, spread it out with your hands, then cover it with parchment and press down with another baking pan or even use a lg. measuring cup to press it down for a smooth, even crust.
6. Not letting pans cool in between each use – I don’t know of many households with more than 2 cookie sheets, so inevitably, when making big batches of cookies, you’ll have to reuse them over and over again during the same baking session. In between batches, make sure to let the sheets cool to the touch, then run them under cold water (or stick them in the fridge) until thoroughly cool and wipe dry before reusing.
7. Baking multiple sheets at once and not switching their position – Baking two sheets of cookies at a time is not ideal for picture-perfect cookie making, but it works if you’re in a rush or if a recipe yields a ton of cookies. Just make sure to set your racks about a third from the top and a third from the bottom and always switch the position of the sheets at least once, around halfway through cooking.
8. Not making the icing the right consistency – If you’re making your own ornamental frosting, aka royal icing, for your stars, trees, and other cut-outs, you’ll want to make sure it’s the perfect consistency for what you’re trying to achieve. For outlining and more detailed work, make sure your icing is a little stiffer (a bit runnier than cake frosting). For “flooding” and filling, you’ll want to add a few extra drops of warm water, which will make it even runnier so it’ll spread smoothly before setting.
Did the above tips encourage you to give it another try?