Baking gone wrong

-Sunita Gurung

How a few simple ideas can rescue your baked goodies from disaster.

Baking is always a delightful experience which can give that unquestionable satisfaction when you take a look at your baked goodies. To achieve that perfection can be overwhelming to any first timer but never insurmountable. If your baked products end up having a weird taste or texture and are not looking their best, listed are solutions that may help you tackle some common baking mistakes. The most important tip ever is to ALWAYS PRE-HEAT the oven for the given specified time or atleast ten minutes before the item to be baked enters. That makes a big difference!

Burnt cake
Burnt cakes is a common problem but you can always fix it by carefully removing the burned top, sides or bottom, then thickly frosting the top and side sections before serving.

Crumbly cake
Crumbly cakes can be cleverly concealed by frosting. Glue large crumbled pieces with frosting. Rinse the knife with warm water and dry between frostings to ensure that the crumbs don’t appear on the top of the frosting.

Sunken cake
One of the reasons for your baked goods to fall flat is because you open the oven too much. When you open the oven door, it causes the cold air to rush inside, dropping the temperature which interferes with the rise of the baked goods. Besides the cooking time for other types of dishes slows down as the oven has to heat back after a drop in the temperature. It is best not to open the door until the baked goods have fully risen and ideally an item is checked whether it is done or not a few minutes before the recipe’s specified time. If you have to take a look, peer in or use the oven light.

Recipe going wrong
Most of the time when your baked goods don’t turn out right is when you double the recipe for a large group or halve it when you are serving only two. This naturally alters the workability of the ingredients and affects the rate at which they cook. If you have to increase the quantity, make the same recipe in multiple batches and if you have to decrease go for the whole item and store the rest for later use.

Tough baked products
When you encounter tough cookies, scones, pie crusts and biscuits it is because the dough has been mixed vigorously to incorporate the ingredients. For biscuit and scone recipe always mix the dough gently or pat it out instead of rolling and for cookie and pie crust recipe, mix just until the flour is incorporated. To be on the safe side, stop machine mixing seconds after the flour has been added and finish off the last bit mixing by hand.

Lost sponginess
For your meringues to form or your cakes to become spongy or your souffles to have a lift it is essential to beat the egg whites properly to achieve that voluminous, creamy and glossy texture. When the recipe calls for egg whites to be beaten separately, remove the whites from yolk carefully as even a speck of yolk can prevent the whites from whipping up fully. And make sure that they are at room temperature before you start the process. Use dry clean beaters to whip and continue till stiff peaks are formed that is when you lift the beater out of the bowls the peaks stand upright. If you overbeat, the whites will turn grainy or dry or they may separate. After the whites are perfectly beaten it is important to gently fold into the cake batter otherwise you will deflate them.

Soggy baked products
When you have soggy baked goods it means that you have left the muffins and cupcakes to cool in the pans. When left the steam inside the muffins or cupcakes can’t escape and they sit in the pan and sweat which leaves you with a wet base. Instead let them cool for five minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack. Cooling on a wire rack allows air to circulate around them, letting the steam escape which leaves your muffins and cupcakes with a delicious crumb.

To prevent the lower crusts of fruit pies and quiches from becoming soggy, brush the crust with soft butter as soon as you line the pan with pastry. Refrigerate the crust until the butter is firm and then add the pie/quiche filling.

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