Baking Basics – All you need to know as a first time baker

I was a terrible cook until a year back. My kids worshiped their nani or for that matter and their maasi when it came to good food. One day, sometime around the start of this year, I had had enough of it. So I decided to take the plunge and baking was the first thing I wanted to nail down!!

Like with anything else, baking seemed like this massive glorified thing till the time I actually get to it. It was a smooth sail once there it but I must admit that I was quite unsure the first time. If you are planning to bake your first cupcake, here are a few lessons that I learnt.

 

Baking is an EXACT science

Yes, it is. So if you are planning to bake your first cupcake it’s good to start with a recipe which lists the exact proportion of ingredients. A recipe handed over by your aunt over phone may not give you the puffiness or softness that you were so looking forward too. Worst case, your cupcake may not rise at all. So get your baking soda, baking powder, oils, milk, vanilla essence every tiny little proportion right to the T.

Baking Basics

Baking CUTLERY

A quarter tablespoon, 2 teaspoon, half a cup may be very confusing if you don’t have the exact measuring cups and spoons. So first and foremost order your measuring spoons and cups. You can get them for under Rs 200 at amazon or at any supermarket. You will need a baking tray even if you are making cupcakes as the tray acts as a base. Few cupcake holders along with paper cupcake liners to get you that exact conical shape that you would love to have for your cupcake. Though you won’t require these for cookies and cake, just the baking tray would suffice.

 

The complexity of the OVEN really doesn’t matter

Before I started baking, I really thought that I needed a high end oven. But I decided to buy the simple microwave cum oven thing. It was inexpensive and at that time I wasn’t sure if I would really be baking for long. Trust me, for the basic bakes like cupcakes, cakes this one works just fine. My baked goodies turn out just as soft and gooey as long as I have stuck to the right proportions.

And this kind of oven is not really THAT hot inside. So if you haven’t bought your baking gloves yet, the good old thick kitchen napkin and kitchen plyers would suffice. Make sure you cover your fingers with thick towel before taking out the tray.

 

Maida Vs ATTA

Now that’s the most important things for me. When I want to bake at home, I would love it to be bit healthier. Though for the first couple of times I used Maida, I moved on to the Atta recipes very quickly. The atta ones tend to crumble a bit, especially cookies while the maida ones stay together and taste more gooey. But let me tell you that the atta ones puff-up absolutely well so I prefer atta for a guilt free indulgence but then it’s totally your call.  I will share one such recipe tmrw.

 

 

Don’t SUBSTITUTE everything

Now keep that in mind. In a haste to go healthy or vegetarian don’t substitute every core ingredient. Aka maida for atta, sugar for jaggery and eggs for milk. You can substitute any one item. If you are using jaggery for your cookie, add a small amount of white sugar too as it helps the cookie spread well.

 

Sieving – the simple trick for perfect FLUFFINESS

Right from the first set of cupcakes that I baked, my cookies have been super soft. My friends think I have a good hand at baking. Can you believe that! What I really do is use this very simple technique. I always sieve the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon powder together. This adds air and fluffiness to the bake. Then I add the wet mixture and stir the full batter very very gently so that the air stays intact.

Image Courtesy: MomandDaughter

Baking Basics

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