How do I become a baker at home?
Start simple. There is no specialized equipment you need to begin.
- Measuring cups or a simple teacup (use that only for the entire recipe to keep the ratios consistent)
- A set of spoons (normal spoons, just use one set throughout)
- A few essential pans – a cookie sheet, a round cake pan, a loaf tin
- A hand or electric mixer
- An oven and oven thermometer
- A weighing scale
- Bowls, spatulas
Pick one or two recipes like this easy chocolate chip cookie cake and just get in the kitchen. You can choose these one-bowl cakes like this one bowl banana cake to start with. There is a lot of difference in watching the recipe and actually making it.
What can I bake at home?
You can bake almost anything at home. I would recommend starting with something that is eaten most often like these super easy and foolproof chocolate chip cookies.
What is the best step to have better results in baking?
Know your oven, that is the root cause of many baking failures, too hot, too cold, incorrect reading, hot and cold spots, incorrectly calibrated oven. Keep the following tips in mind:
- Invest in a handy small oven thermometer and keep it inside your oven all the time.
- Check your oven manual for calibration or contact the sales service if there is any issue with your oven.
- Bake a batch of cookies or muffins/cupcakes like these chocolate chip muffins or chocolate muffins and bake them 2 at a time at different places (rack height will remain the same that is in the middle) and note down the timings etc. That is the best way to know your oven.
How do you know what temperature to bake?
Every recipe states the temperature whether you take it from a book, magazine or online. That will provide you with the best guide. However, in my experience, the following are the general guidelines
- Cookies, scones, bars – 350 F
- Pizza, breads, buns and yeast-based products – 375 F
- Cakes and cupcakes – 325 F
How do you bake a cake step by step?
Besides following the recipe you have selected, the general method is this
- Gather your ingredients
- Measure or weigh them out
- Prepare your pan
- Make the batter
- Bake, cool, present and serve
How do I know if my baking powder and baking soda are still fresh?
- Check on expiry is the first step, after which it might work but lose its potency
- For baking soda – take a teaspoon of baking soda and pour ¼ cup of vinegar, it should frizzle
- For baking powder – take a teaspoon of baking powder and pout ¼ cup of boiling water, it should bubble up
How do I need to alter a recipe if I am using a convection oven?
If you are using a convection oven, it is generally recommended that you reduce the temperature by 25 degrees as compared to the given temperature in the recipe and also check for doneness a little earlier, around 5 minutes. This is because a convection oven has a fan circulating hot air in the oven causing the products to bake faster.
Could you explain the difference between different types of flours – all-purpose, bread, cake, etc. – and how to substitute them?
Bread flour – it has more protein, therefore, more gluten and more chewy as compared to all-purpose flour. Use all-purpose flour for recipes that call for it, which will result in a little compromise on chewiness because of less protein content. For example, my basic bread loaf uses all-purpose flour.
Cake Flour/Pastry Flour – lightest of all flour with less protein percentage. Although there is a debate that cake flour is made from different part of wheat hence not replaceable but this substitute hack works. For every 1 cup of Cake Flour, use ¾ cup of all-purpose flour and ¼ cup of cornflour, sift them together. Recipe using Cake Flour by this hack is Red Velvet Cupcakes.
Self Raising Flour – All-purpose flour with added leavening agents and salt. For every 1 cup of self-raising flour, use 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 ½ teaspoon of baking powder and ¼ teaspoon of salt. I do not recommend using but if you have you can use these two cake recipes and skip baking powder/soda and salt. I would recommend this one bowl lemon cake or one bowl mocha cake which are one of the simplest cakes.
All-Purpose Flour/Regular flour/ Normal flour – This is the most commonly used flour in all baking products. And all of the above speciality flours can be replaced by it.
Whole Wheat/ Whole Meal Flour – This is our regular aata as we call in South Asia. Almost any bread recipe can be used to replace half of the regular flour with the whole wheat flour. A Bread is a great place to begin with and a recipe of wholewheat bread can be found here.
Can I substitute oil for butter in a recipe? How much should I use?
Technically speaking, butter has some water percentage while oil is all fat. In my experience, they are not interchangeable. However, there are some recipes that do and they specifically mention it. I have one recipe that can use either of them. Orange Cake, Banana Cake and Carrot Cake,all use oil, even naan khatai (the Pakistani Tea cookies) also uses oil.
Why does my cake cave in the middle after it’s baked?
That typically happens when the cake is not cooked completely from the center which might be due to a very hot oven. It can cook the sides of the cake leaving the center uncooked and when taken out, it caves in or collapses. In fact a pound cake should rise above, form a dome and a signature crack.
Can I use a Pyrex bowl as a double boiler? Or can I use the microwave when a recipe calls for melting ingredients in a double boiler?
In general pyrex bowls and most glass bowls are not meant to be used on the stovetop directly and using it as a double boiler is never recommended. The ideal double boiler will be a saucepan with a few inches of water simmering and a heatproof (I always use stainless steel bowl for safety purposes) bowl on top.
You can use a microwave but very carefully in a burst of 30 seconds and stirring after each round. For example my super hit brownies recipe uses a double boiler to melt butter chocolate and cocoa powder because they all can be burnt so easily if direct heat is applied.
Why do my cookies always turn out flat?
Cookies turn out flat because of more soft butter than the recipe calls for. Also, it can indicate less flour or more sugar or both. A very important underlying factor can be reusing cookie sheets that are already greased hence contributing towards the spreading of the cookies. Try some easy cookie recipes here.
A recipe calls for buttermilk but I don’t want to go to the store just for that. Can I make my own?
You can easily make your own buttermilk, by adding 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in 1 cup full-fat milk and let it stand for five minutes. You can use it in a red velvet cupcake recipe or these fluffy banana pancakes!
Why is my cake texture gummy?
Overmixing the cake batter can develop excess gluten in the mixture which when baked might look ok from outside but can be dense or tough or gummy from inside. Also a very slow oven can cause the cake to rise improperly hence creating undesirable texture.
Why won’t my cake rise properly?
There can be so many factors involved. Right from incorrect ingredient temperature and measurement to mixing to baking. However, the most common mistake can be not creaming butter and sugar enough, leavening agent’s strength and baking at too low heat.
How can I tell if my cake is properly done?
There are three signs which can tell the cake is done:
- It doesn’t look wet in the center (because that’s the last part to cook)
- When you slightly touch the cake, it bounces back.
- It leaves the side of the pan because of pepper greasing.
- Of course the toothpick test – it will come clean.
You can have a look at these beautiful and easy cake recipes here.
What’s the difference between baking powder and baking soda?
Baking Soda is sodium bicarbonate and is used in recipes which have other acidic ingredients like yoghurt, buttermilk, brown sugar etc.
Baking Powder is sodium bicarbonate plus acidifying agent (like cream of tartar) and a drying agent (cornflour).
Both releases carbon dioxide when heat is supplied however, baking soda spreads the product while baking powder puffs it up.
What’s the best way to store yeast?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions. Yeast is a living organism and is vulnerable to heat, humidity and air etc. Unopened packages can be stored in the cupboard, pantry, shelves but opened ones should be kept in the freezer for keeping it healthy. You can check my post on top 10 tips to handle the yeast.
Where can I get more information regarding flavors and prices?
What is fondant and do I have other alternatives?
Fondant is sugar paste primarily used for sealing freshness and giving perfect look to the elaborate cakes. Now every other cake is fondant. You can have buttercream, fresh cream and chocolate ganache finish as well.
Do you deliver the cakes?
Yes, we do with extra charges depending upon the location.
Do you give classes?
Yes, we do conduct baking and decorating classes from time to time. Please send a message at 0565601805 with your name and things you want to learn, and you will be notified for the next class. The classes, workshops and courses that have already taken place can be viewed here.
Why are the prices not mentioned with each cake picture?
Every cake is different. The price depends on the number of servings, design complexity, flavor (cakes with added fruits and nuts cost extra), delivery date etc. Hence the price of each cake varies but general pricing guidelines are given under prices section.
Do you make gluten free/egg-less/dairy free cakes?
Yes we do.