We want to help you get your bakes perfect every time and our baking essentials feature in Baking Heaven is filled with handy tips and tricks to get you started.
This month Tala
share their essential tips, ideas and tools to help you achieve the perfect bake!
How do I use baking beans?
Tired of soggy bottoms? Fed up with shrinking pastry? You are missing one key step in your baking! The secret to a perfect pastry base is of course blind baking with a set of ceramic baking beans. You will find that your pastry is crispier, lighter and more even when you use baking beans. The pastry will also not shrink as it is weighed down and held in place by the beans during the blind bake.
Prick the unbaked pastry with a fork.
Place a sheet of baking parchment over the pastry and cover with baking beans.
Pack the beans against the sides of the tin as this is where the shrinkage is most likely to occur.
After baking, let the beans cool, then remove and wash them in soapy water.
Dry and return the beans to the storage container.
Once you have removed the baking beans and baking paper from your pastry, add in the filling and any topping, remembering to use a pie bird as needed. You can then continue to finish your dish, confident in the fact that your base will be crisp and well baked, holding its size and shape perfectly.
Tala’s ceramic baking beans are suitable for domestic oven use, up to 240ºC.
A once-in-a-lifetime purchase:
IF you’ve bought one set of beans, you’ll never need another
Time saving tip: Invest in a Cook’s Measure
The Cook’s dry measure is an invaluable kitchen tool. Simply pour ingredients up to the desired level for speed and accuracy without using weighing scales.
It’s calibrated in both metric and imperial so it is easy to follow your favourite old cookery books as well as recipes passed down through your family. It measures in ounces, grams, American and English cups and pints. The cook’s measure is also calibrated for fluid measurements and can be used to measure liquids for immediate use, but it is not watertight and liquids will soon find their way through the seams so don’t hang around!
- The cooks’ measure’s shape is perfect for holding your piping bag open when you’re filling it with buttercream
- Take it on holiday if you are self-catering and planning to cook but don’t have room to pack your scales
- If you love American baking videos but don’t have measuring cups, the Cook’s measure has this covered with a handy US cups scale
- Perfect for students leaving home for the first time and cooking for themselves
- The cup has a handy liquid millilitre scale for small amounts of fluids
Whether you’re piping buttercream onto a mini cupcake or decorating a whole cake, it’s worth finding a quality icing bag set that’ll give you consistently good results!
Tala’s icing bag set includes a 30cm (12in) long quality icing bag, a screw adaptor to facilitate changing of icing nozzles and six stainless steel nozzles covering a choice of patterns. There is also a scraper for creating patterns along the side of the cake, and to ensure product life is preserved, nozzle brushes are also included for efficient cleaning.
Unscrew the adaptor.
Place your selected nozzle onto the head of the adaptor, which is showing through the bag and re-screw back onto the adaptor body, making sure that it is fairly tight.
Half fill the bag with icing.
Twist the top of the bag to force the icing to the bottom, then fold over the top of the bag, squeezing the bag gently until the icing is forced through the nozzle.
For best results, keep the nozzle end as close as possible to the surface that is being iced. In the case of lettering, lift the nozzle a little higher from the surface.
Nozzles can be changed during an icing project simply by unscrewing the adaptor and replacing with another.
3 of Tala's best gifts for bakers
- Tala Heart Cutters - This set of three heart-shaped cutters has easy grip handles and is ideal for pastry, icing and biscuits! £5.22, Amazon.
- Tala Silicone Icing Bag and Large Nozzle Set - The essential kit for any discerning home baker, this set is ideal for creating stunning decorations for any occasion. £4.99, John Lewis.
- Tala Perfomance Non-Stick Heart Shape Springform Cake Tin - This tin can be used all year round, ideal for Valentine’s Day and special anniversaries. £6.49, www.cookshop.co.uk.