Baking essentials

Getting a bake just right comes down to the little details and we're back to help you get your bakes perfect with these essential tips, ideas and tools.

Image credit: muffins just coming out of the oven
Getting a bake just right comes down to the little details and we're back to help you get your bakes perfect with these essential tips, ideas and tools.

Ingredient uncovered: fresh yeast

Baker’s yeast is a natural raising agent used to help both sweet and savoury bread rise. Widely available dried in sachets, you can also buy it fresh in blocks from some bakeries, health food stores and delicatessens. Fresh yeast should be firm and moist with a creamy colour, so avoid any that is dry and crumbly. It will need to be activated in lukewarm water before being added to a recipe, simply follow the recipe instructions for the correct quantities and ensure that the yeast froths up before using it. If it doesn’t, the yeast is stale and should be discarded as it will not help the bread rise. Store fresh yeast in a sealed container in the fridge and for best results use it soon after purchasing.

How do I…

Need to soften hardened sugar? Pop an apple slice in the sugar container, seal and leave overnight.

Time saving tip: grate your butter

Making a flaky dough recipe that requires cold butter? Use a box grater to grate a block straight from the fridge or freezer, then add it to the flour and it’ll incorporate evenly and stay nice and cold at the same time. Great!

The truth behind the term: sifting

Sifting is the method of removing lumps from flour, cocoa powder, icing sugar or other powdered ingredients using a sieve or flour shaker. It not only helps aerate the ingredient to make your bakes lighter, but it’s easier to combine with other ingredients too. Sifting is also helpful for dusting a work surface with a thin layer of flour. Simple but crucial It may sound obvious, but make sure to read every step of the recipe before you begin baking to avoid making simple mistakes!

Make your own quick marshmallow frosting

Five minutes before your cupcakes are ready to come out of the oven, pop a large marshmallow on top and let it melt. The result? Gooey, marshmallowy goodness!

Flour mix up 

Got your plain and self-raising flour mixed up? Put a little on your tongue one at a time – self-raising flour will fizz slightly due to the baking powder it contains.

Hot spot?

If your bakes rise and brown unevenly, your oven may have a hot spot! You can get this checked and fixed, or a cheaper solution is to turn your tins or trays around at least once while they’re baking to achieve a more even colour.

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