Tips for Better Baking

Fluffy.  Flaky.  Moist.  These are the things that make a baked good…well, good.  I have learned that there are a handful of factors that can quickly deflate any hopes of the perfect pastry if they aren’t taken into consideration.

These tips actually apply to almost all baking scenarios, from biscuits and pancakes, to cookies and cakes.  So lock these few pointers into memory.  They will serve you well!

* Adding too much sugar will result in dense, less fluffy bread. I’m not usually one to skimp on sugar, but when it comes to baking, if your sugar-to-flour ratio is too high, then you’ll end up with more firm bread.

*Adding too much butter will result in dense bread. When it comes to butter, it’s all about the texture after it’s been incorporated.  The mixture should look crumbly, but hold its form when squeezed.  If it doesn’t hold well, add more butter a tablespoon or two at a time.

*Adding too much liquid will result in dense bread, too. I don’t typically measure things very accurately, but when it comes to baking, I definitely measure out my liquids.

*When you add the liquid, stir very slowly with a rubber spatula if you have one; and only stir until all of the flour has been moistened. DO NOT stir too much.  If you do, you guessed it:  you’ll end up with dense bread.

*DO NOT press firmly on, or over-work your dough. This will definitely result in firm breads.  Just press enough so that you can shape it into the general form, while feeling for ‘wet spots’ on the dough that may need flouring.

*When you do flour the wet spots on your dough, flour your hands and then pat the dough. DO NOT flour the dough directly, because too much flour at this point could easily cause your bread to be too firm.

*DO NOT over-cook your bread. Especially things like cookies, biscuits, and pancakes.  Look for signs of golden brown edges, and then remove from the oven/griddle.  Over-cooking will definitely cause firmness.

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