- General Baking Tips
- Kitchen Hints and Tips
- Cake Problems and Cures
- Bread Baking Tips and Solutions
- Baking with Yeast
Preparing Your Kitchen and Safety First!
- Wash hands thoroughly before starting your baking project and when returning to food.
- Use clean dishtowels.
- Clean your work surface and sink before, after, and as needed throughout your project.
- Store eggs in cartons (not refrigerator door) at 40°F. (Clean any raw egg drips up immediately.)
- Do not eat raw dough or batter. Refrigerate unused dough or batter if not baked right away.
- Place the oven rack where it is needed before preheating the oven.
- Use an oven thermometer to check the temperature inside the oven.
- Remember to use oven mitts for each hand when baking. Use dry, heavy-duty oven mitts that cover your wrist and part of your forearm.
- Have ample counter space and a cooling rack ready for hot-baked goods when they are removed from the oven.
- Use clean containers or new plastic bags to storing baked products (after they are cooled.)
- Check the expiration dates on all recipe ingredients, and discard any expired ones.
To test the freshness of an egg, place the whole egg in its unbroken shell in enough water to cover it well. If it:
- Sinks and lies on its side - Fresh
- Sinks and stands on end - Questionable
- Floats - Don’t use it
Using the Right Baking Pans
Baking pans must be appropriately-sized and properly prepared for your baking projects to bake as intended. Here are some tips:
- Food bakes more quickly in glass pans than in metal ones. If you want to use oven-proof glass baking dishes instead, decrease the oven temperature by 25°F (10°C). Firenza recipes for cakes, breads and cookies have been tested in metal pans, unless otherwise noted.
- Do not use the disposable aluminum pans for baking. They absorb the oven’s heat unevenly and are prone to "hot spots’ in the oven.
- Use the size and kind of pan specified in the recipe for the best results.
- You may need to bake a couple/few minutes longer when using insulated bake ware.
Preparing Baking Pans
- Most recipes specify how to prepare the baking pan.
In general, spray pans with your favorite canola or
vegetable oil spray. Some sprays now come with flour.
These are great for cake, brownie or loaf pans. Some
people like to dust their own flour onto the pan.
Optionally, you can line the bottom of a pan with a
piece of parchment or waxed paper, and then spray again.
Spray bread pans only on the bottom of the pan.
Note: If you are flouring a pan for a chocolate cake, mix the flour first with cocoa to eliminate white flour specs from the sides of your cake.
- If you choose to use muffin liners, lightly spray the insides of the liners. Less of the muffin or cupcake will stick to the paper or foil muffin liners after baking.
- For cookies, if your baking sheets don't have a non-stick coating, generously spray them or use parchment paper. Silpat® Liners can also be used, but never use them on insulated cookie sheets.
- When baking multiple batches of cookies, use a metal spatula to scrape any loose or stuck crumbs off of the cookie sheet (unless the sheet has a special non-stick coating that is not to be used with metal utensils) and re-spray or re-line with fresh parchment paper.
- When baking multiple sheets of cookies at a time, put the sheets on the upper rack and the lower rack (not the middle rack) and then switch the positions of the sheets in the oven half-way through the baking time. Stagger their positions in the oven so one is not directly on top of the other. Take care not to have the sheets touching the edges of the oven.
Using your Oven for Baking
- You may use an electric, gas or a convection oven when baking. When using convection ovens, reduce the temperature by about 25˚-50˚. When using a bread machine for Firenza bread mixes, use the ‘light crust, white bread’ setting.
- Before you turn the oven on…
- Adjust the oven racks according to the recipe directions for your baking project.
- Hang or place an oven thermometer in the oven.
- Assume that you should use the middle rack unless told to do differently in your recipe instructions or if baking multiple pans at a time. Ovens usually have "hot spots" meaning they don’t bake at an even temperature throughout the oven. For example, the front or back may be hotter than the middle.
- Once you pre-heat the oven, check the thermometer inside to see if the temperature is correct for your baking project. Pre-heating can take as long as 20 minutes. Adjust the temperature until the correct oven temperature is attained.
- When placing pans or bake ware into the oven for
- Don’t crowd them. Baking sheets should never be touching each other.
- Keep at least 1" between the sides of any baking pans or sheets and the sides of the oven. Even circulation around the pan is required for perfect baking.
- Don’t stack the pans directly over or under pans on other shelves. They should be staggered on the different shelves. (The less pans you bake at one time, the better your project will bake.)
- Avoid opening the oven door during the baking process. That allows cool air into the oven and can cause uneven baking or can cause some projects, like cakes, to fall. If you have to open the door, do it after the texture has set which is usually very close to the finishing time. (If you are baking for 40 minutes, check the recipe after 30 or 35 minutes.) Avoid over-baking! This is a major cause of failure of many types of baking projects.
Allowing Your Baking Project to Cool
For cake and loaf recipes that require unmolding, place the pan on a wire cake rack and let it stand for 5 - 10 minutes. If a baked good is unmolded right from the oven, chances are it will fall apart or stick to the pan if unmolded too soon.
Some baked goods are meant to be eaten right out of the pan, but they should be cooled in the pan on a wire cake rack.
To unmold your baking project:
After cooling for about 10 minutes, run a dull knife around the inside of the pan to release the cake, bread or quick-bread from the sides and then invert it onto the wire cake rack to unmold. If the loaf pan has been lined with parchment or waxed paper, carefully peel it off the loaf. Turn the loaf right side up and cool completely on the rack.
A few cakes and quick breads may sink slightly in the center when cooled. When they are sliced, the indentation won't be noticeable.
Hint: To easily remove a cake from the pan, place a double thickness paper towel over the wire rack. The towel prevents the wire bars from breaking the crust or leaving imprints on the top of the cake
You should always cool cookies on a wire cake rack. Once cookies come out of the oven, wait approximately 2-3 minutes before transferring them from the sheet to the rack.
Making your Baking Project
- Follow the directions precisely. Do not over or
under-mix. Use a timer to track mixing times.
- Butter diminishes its ability to trap air for proper and even rising
- Flour once the flour has been added to the wet mixture, it promotes the formation of gluten and toughens the texture
- Eggs whips too much air into the mixture and causes tunnels in the texture
- Each step has a purpose and move through them quickly. For example, once baking powder or baking soda becomes wet, the leavening action starts. If you allow the wet mixture to sit for too long before baking, your project may end up flat!
- Get the mixture or batter into the prepared pan as soon as possible. Make sure you scrape all the batter from the mixing bowl with a rubber or soft plastic spatula. Don’t leave the batter behind! Baking times assume you’ve put it all into the pan.
- If you like to use insulated baking sheets, don't run out to the store to buy them; you can simulate them by stacking one regular cookie sheet over another. Be especially careful when you take them out of the oven; the top sheet should be removed first.
- Bread Baking - Brush melted butter over the tops of breads and biscuits as soon as they are removed from the oven. This will make the crust soft and full of flavor.
- Freeze stale bread and then make croutons. Toast the bread first until it is crispy. Brush the bread slices with melted butter and sprinkle on garlic or onion powder, or your favorite herb blend. Then cut the bread into small cubes for croutons.
- Use an ice cream scoop to drop cookie dough. Your cookies will be uniform size and will bake evenly. If the dough is sticky, dip the scoop into water between scoops.
- When spreading Focaccia dough into a Focaccia pan, wet your hands or a spatula to easily and evenly spread the dough.
- Remove baked brownies from the pan and frost them upside down. They will cut easily into squares.
- Almost any quick bread can also be used to make
muffins. Instead of making the bread into loaves, just
put the batter into muffin cups (spray first) and bake at a
slightly higher (25˚) temperature. You also need to bake
them a shorter length of time than a loaf.
Quick breads will almost always crack on the top of the loaf. That’s normal and gives the loaf it’s wonderful look.