Cooking and baking are both physical and mental therapy, but baking can be a bit intimidating for first-timers out there. While cooking leaves room for improvisation, baking is more of a science. Thus, the art of baking requires a helping of science and a whole lot of love.
Studies have shown baking can be linked to stress relief and increased mindfulness. Luckily, this baking guide will have you making cakes and baking bread like a pro in no time.
Which pieces of baking equipment should you buy for your kitchen? As a beginner, it might be tricky for you to know all the essential tools for baking. If you’re a new baker, start with our list of baking must-haves.
The accuracy of measurement is paramount when it comes to getting a successful result. First, get a digital scale that can be set to grams and has a tare function. Depending on where you live, you’ll find brands and styles that you prefer to work with. You can also find sets that include both measuring cups and spoons.
When baking cakes, you will find that you get a lot of use out of your whisk. The curving shape of a balloon whisk makes it easy to scrape every surface. Whisks come in all sorts of materials, conditions, and sizes. Some whisks have silicone or molded handles, which might be easier to grip. Of course, you don’t want one that is too flimsy, either. Look for stiff wires, which can cut through thicker ingredients like pancake batter.
Every baker or aspiring baker needs cake pans. Typically square, rectangular, or circular, traditional cake pans are the standard choice. But glass bakeware is probably going to be your go-to for most recipes. This pan will stand up to batch after batch, but the thing you will love is it makes room for you to grab the pan. The other kind of material you can choose is aluminum. Aluminum is a great heat conductor and provides an even heat distribution. It’s not too expensive, either; a set of three will cost you about 36 bucks.
When it comes to baking, you don’t need a pantry bursting at the seams with specialized ingredients. Baking relies on the chemistry of carefully considered and adequately measured ingredients. Fortunately, there are a handful of staples that are worth having on hand.
The first and most important ingredient to have on hand in a bakery is flour. Flour gives the structure for the product. Different types of flours are used for different types of baking. You can use all-purpose flour to create just about anything, from fluffy pancakes to baguettes. The two most commonly used types of flour are plain and self-raising. Every type of flour is milled to have a specific protein content. If a recipe calls simply for “flour,” it’s calling for plain flour. Plain flour works fine for baking airy bread, like baguettes.
Many people think that flour has a high shelf-life and can be kept for months. However, that’s a fallacy. It would be best if you stored flour in airtight, moisture-proof containers on a cold, dark shelf. If your shelf is damaged, you can repair it using a tooth style cabinet saw.
Baking starts with the preparation of the dough. The necessary process of making bread dough is the same across the board. Preparing the dough is a question of touching and feeling.
The common ingredients are:
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon honey or white sugar
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
After you’ve measured out your flour, it’s time to mix it with yeast. Combine flour, yeast, and sugar in a large bowl. Mix this until smooth and let it rise for 10 minutes. Stir in salt. Do not knead at this point. Keep stirring, adding the remaining flour, if necessary.
Once the ingredients have been combined, most yeast dough needs to be kneaded. It may take a few minutes longer by hand to get the dough smooth. After it gets soft, cover the dough and let it rise until the volume is double in size. You should also know that cook times and temperatures will vary with appliances.
Using a Baking Oven
There are different types of ovens, such as microwave ovens and steam ovens. Most ovens have two heating sources, one at the bottom and another at the top. Electric ovens are useful in terms of functionality as they provide even distribution of heat in the oven. Gas ovens are also very popular. Unlike electric ovens, the heat on a gas oven is instant.
Whatever oven you choose, always preheat the oven at the required temperature for at least 10 to 15 minutes. You can do this by using a ‘true temp’ oven thermometer. Also, make sure you don’t oven the oven frequently with the dish inside.
Bread baking, for beginners and pros alike, is indeed prominent right now. Grab some pastry sheets, fill with jam, and voila, cakes!