Baking Tips

Challah Here are some tips I’ve collected from texts, trials and favorite chefs that might get a rise out of you!

  • When baking cookies, Chef P says if you’re not serving them that day, store them in the freezer (after cooling) and let them thaw before serving.  You can ice, decorate, sprinkle or whatever once they are thawed. Cookies start to stale almost immediately and freezing keeps them fresher longer.
  • Always refrigerate opened yeast.
  • When making yeast bread, activate the dry yeast in 110 degree F. water.  It makes a difference!
  • Don’t add the salt directly on top of the yeast, put it on top of the flour.  Salt kills yeast.
  • You know your yeast bread is done when you thump the bottom of the bread and it sounds hollow.  If you can’t thump it, check the temperature and it’s done at 210 degrees.
  • Be sure to adhere to mixing, fermentation and proofing instructions. Most yeast doughs should be mixed with the dough hook for 8-10 minutes to develop the gluten.
  • Before baking yeast breads, consider washing the dough with egg white and water for a shiny, crisp crust or whole egg and milk for a golden, soft crust.
  • Don’t adjust dry ingredient amounts in baking formulas.  It’s a science!
  • When baking with chocolate chips, nuts, berries, etc. toss them in flour before adding to mixture.  It will keep them from sinking to the bottom.
  • For the best baked product end-result, consider weighing ingredients instead of using measuring cups.  Only water, egg and milk is measured by volume in a real bake shop.
  • Move baked breads and muffins to a cooling rack as soon as possible to keep the bottoms from getting soggy.
  • Never submerge a rolling pin in water. It can get inside the well and leak out onto later batches of dough.
  • When baking bread loaves, make small cuts or “score” the top of the dough to keep loaf from splitting when baked.
  • If you’re using a shortening-based cake icing, add a little lemon juice to improve the “mouthfeel” of the icing.
  • Don’t store your bread and muffins in the refrigerator.  Keep lightly covered at room temperature for a day or just bake and freeze, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and inside a freezer bag.  Let thaw at room temp and refresh in the oven.  Refrigerate only baked goods containing cream fillings.  The fridge dries out baked goods.
  • When bread is properly proofed and ready to bake, it springs back slowly when touched.
  • Use cake flour only for cakes and pasty flour only for pastries.  Bread flour is a high-gluten flour you can use for making yeast breads.  All-purpose flour is a cross between pastry and bread flour so you can use for many types of baked goods.  Cake flour makes cakes tender and fine-crumbed.
  • Only use your mixer whip attachment for foaming egg whites and cream.  The paddle should be used for everything else, except mixing dough!  That’s for the dough hook.

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