One of our most read posts is our 5 Tips for Perfect Buttercream. It makes sense. There are sooo many different recipes and techniques out there to try. It’s easy to get bamboozled. If you don’t have go-to recipes or a method you like to stick to finding tips can be handy. So with that in mind here’s our top tips for perfect bakes! If you’re finding your loaves sinking or your cupcakes overflowing why not sit down with a cup fo tea and read though our advice!
Tips for Perfect Bakes
This one seems silly, but it is amazing how many people don’t read every word of a recipe or tutorial before starting. It’s easy to skim read… especially if you’re in a rush. Don’t worry, everyone at some point ends up doing it. One of the simplest ways to end up with a baking fail, however, is to not pay attention to the ingredients list or instructions. If it’s for a weekend treat sit down with a coffee, a few minutes and your chosen project. It’ll save you the stress in the long run. For bigger or more ambitious recipes like a festive centrepiece it may be worth printing out your recipe and making notes. A trial bake isn’t going to hurt too… plus that means a trial treat!
2: Plan Ahead & Don’t Rush
Another sure fire way to find yourself in the middle of sinking cupcakes is to not plan ahead. Make sure you check those cupboards to see if you have everything you need in. If not pre-plan a trip to buy all your ingredients. Or remember to order any specialist items you need in advance. Also, try to set aside more time than you think you’ll need to bake and decorate. It’s easy to think that pretty drip cake is just going to take an afternoon to whip up, but it won’t. (We do this for a living and it takes longer than that for us!) De-clutter or prep your work area. Set up your stand mixer, bowls, etc before you start. You can even pre-weigh all your ingredients too. Why would you want to cause yourself more stress and anxiety? Whether you’re a complete novice or have more experience every project should be a fun project.
3: Check Your Ingredients
Always make sure that your ingredients are in date… even things like baking powder or bicarbonate of soda. They generally have long shelf lives, but if they are past their Best Before date they start to lose potency. The last thing you want is your levelling agent to give up mid-bake right?
Another part to checking your ingredients involves weights and measurements. Weighing ingredients is a lot more accurate than relying on the cups (or volume) system so this is the method we recommend. All our recipes are in this format. We know there are recipes out there that just involve cups with no conversions though. Converting those kinds of recipes are usually hit and miss too. Why? Because a cup are just not as accurate as scales! So each different ingredient needs its own specific conversion. A cup of milk is not going to weigh the same as a cup of icing sugar. If you’re used to cups then that’s great and if it’s never failed for you then stick with it. Weighing ingredients or looking at a weight lead recipe really isn’t hard though. Some people can be put off by it, but it’s just a case of investing in some kitchen scales!
4: Practice, Practice, Practice
If you know you’ve got an event or dinner coming up then make your life easier and practice! So if you’re hoping for a cute Christmas dessert table start a few weeks before with a little time set aside. Don’t go crazy and think you can practice several bakes in one day. We’d recommend testing one or two. Keeping a set of notes on your progress is going to help. We know not everyone is going to be this in-depth, but even a couple post-it notes would help. You might even think of some cool flavour or decoration options for next time.
5: Think Before You Substitute
If you need a recipe that uses a substitute (low fat, no gluten, vegan friendly etc) then look for that recipe. We wouldn’t recommend just taking a standard recipe and swapping ingredients out. We’ve had people ask why certain bakes haven’t worked and that all they did was replace the butter with a low fat margarine. The two things aren’t the same and they definitely don’t have the same ingredients. Simply put, margarine (especially low fat) has a higher water content than butter so your bake isn’t getting the right ratio of fat it needs.
Another example is a panicked email we received one Christmas. Someone used our go-to gingerbread cookie recipe, but swapped plain flour for gluten free plain flour. Everything seemed great, but after a few hours the cookies were soft and falling apart. The problem was that there was nothing to replace the gluten that was taken out when the plain flour was replaced. Gluten helps bind ingredients in a bake together so without an alternative like Xanthan Gum it was always going to easily crumble or break. Our recipe wasn’t a gluten free specific recipe to begin with too.
Hopefully, with these handy tips you’re on your way to perfect bakes. The key here really is to not make life harder for yourself. If you don’t have the time then try and go for a simpler bake. Don’t be so hard on yourself and instead have some fun!