Hello everyone! Welcome to Blogmas Day 24! Today, I wanted to share a list of baking tips from your friendly amateur baker (which is me, I’m friendly and an amateur baker I think).
Is it weird to give tips if I’m an amateur baker? I don’t think so! Here’s why I wanted to share my tips. Basically, I think the best time to share your thoughts on something is when it’s fresh in your mind. Since I’m still very much in that amateur part of baking, I figured why not share?
Also, since I’ve talked about baking soooooo much this Blogmas, I figured it’d be a good time to share this instead of waiting and doing it when it’s not at the forefront of my mind.
Baking Tips by an Amateur Baker
I’m going to split the tips up in a few main categories below. I hope some (or all!) are helpful if you’re new to baking.
When starting out, I was super tempted to go straight for a fancy mixer. And while it would have been great to have (especially because of all the great deals during the holidays), it wasn’t the item that would have been the most helpful in the end. Looking back, I likely won’t bake again for awhile so it’d be so big to store while my hand mixer is tiny and fits anywhere. Basically, it’s not the most useful item to worry about just yet.
I would say the items you do want things like measuring cups, measuring spoons, and then quality baking trays. The cups and spoons can be cute if you want, since they’re also a great decor piece if you want to display them.
The trays I would say splurge on them if you can because the nicer ones are the ones with the bottoms that come out and the latches on the sides that make it easier to get cakes out and such. When you’re new to baking you might not realize how much spray or butter or anything you need to keep it from sticking and you don’t want to accidentally break apart the cake that way!
If you’re going the cookie route, get multiple cookie sheets and cooling racks because you’ll likely make a ton of cookies at once and so you’ll want them so you can quickly rotate sheets in and out of the oven when baking them.
Before you go to the store, make sure you have a good look through your pantry and kitchen for what you need. You might find that you already have something or that something you thought you had might be used up or even expired and in need of replacing. Once you figure out what you need, if there’s an item you need to buy but might not use too much of, or don’t know what it is, then I recommend you look it up before you leave the house. If you likely won’t use it for anything else, then Google for a substitute. For example, during my spiced honey cake bake I remarked that I had to get buttermilk for it and then ended up making buttermilk pancakes to try to use it all up. The amazing LiveInTheNautical then left me a comment with a hack to not have to get buttermilk next time!
Also, there were multiple times when I was in Target looking up what something was and what it looked like, as well as where to find it before having to run to the opposite side of the grocery section to where I just was because I didn’t realize I needed something from that section. That or looking ten times before finally looking it up and realizing it was the item I was looking at, it’s just that it had a slightly different name… Sheesh! Bottom line is, just look things up in advance!
During the bake
“Don’t panic” is the best advice I can give here! But basically when something goes wrong, either you realize you didn’t pick up something you needed, the mixture isn’t quite right, or something else is happening, just take a breath! Then wash your hands and pull out your phone to search for a solution. There are a lot of times (or so I’ve heard) where you just have to throw everything out and start again because baking is incredibly precise, but if 9 times out of 10 you have to throw it out, you might have that 1 time where you can save it! For example, my gingerbread cookies were wayyyyy too sticky when I was trying to roll out the dough, but I gradually added more and more flour in until it was workable. Now, I would also say try to get it right the first time because I did waste a ton of flour and dough trying to save it, but it worked out and was a great learning experience!
On a less dire note, print out the instructions when possible. I found that printed versions were easier to follow along than scrolling up and down so much on my phone. Or at least write out the measurements to have handy and leave your phone on the step you’re currently following for your bake. It’s much easier!
Oh! Also, if the recipe says “room temperature” or something for a specific item, make sure you follow that! I don’t think it’s one of those “the cake is RUINED” situations but it’s just harder for things to mix as they’re supposed to so just follow what the recipe says on this. You can experiment if you really want I suppose, but I think it just makes it easier if you follow the instructions.
Honestly, I don’t have many tips here yet! I haven’t done too much for decorations. I made cream cheese frosting for my cake which was super easy to make and then I made powdered sugar icing for the gingerbread cookies. The icing I did have to go back and forth adding more sugar or milk depending on how it was turning out but the frosting was easy.
I think the frosting is much more easy to work with but you have to make sure the cake is completely cooled or the frosting will just melt off (learned that the hard way when I made cupcakes from a box mix and didn’t want to wait a few years ago). The icing was more annoying but I think mostly because my piping bag broke and I didn’t realize how fast it set at first so I kind of put as much on the cookies as I could, thinking I could go back and fill it out later but then it started to set and looked terrible when I tried to add more! I’ve heard royal icing is the tricky one though, so I’ll update you when I try that (maybe next year…).
And those are my tips thus far! I’m not sure if they’re actually helpful, but hopefully they are! Happy baking and Merry Christmas Eve everyone!
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Thanks for these tips! One of my goals in 2020 is to find a new hobby and try it out and I’ve decided it’s going to be baking. I was super tempted to buy all the nice baking tools but ended up buying a $10 electric beater and some cookie cutters to get started for now. I’ve always hated being forced to buy an ingredient for one item so I’ll have to remember to read the comments for some substitute recommendations or find some elsewhere!
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I’m so glad you enjoyed them and welcome to the world of baking! Honestly, that’s literally all you need to really get started. I do really recommend you look for substitutes for sure if it bugs you as much as it does me too or just look for another recipe until you find one that doesn’t have that ingredient too. Pinterest always has tons of options so I always check on there and save a ton of the same type of recipes so I have options on hand too!
[…] quick, I wanted to add that I still stand by my tips from my Tips From an Amateur Baker post. I wrote that for last year’s Blogmas and it still stands! I will say I laughed when I […]