When Making Bread...
When making breads if the dough ever feels too stiff don’t be afraid to add a little more water, or if it is too sticky you can always add some more flour. Different flours will absorb slightly different amounts of water.
When kneading dough the best way to tell if you have kneaded it long enough is to take a small piece and stretch it with both hands into a circle shape until you can read printed paper through it.
After the final proofing stage of the bread when the dough has risen, just before you place it in the oven, take care not to knock the tin because this can let the gas escape from the dough and cause your loaf not to achieve much height in the oven.
Once your bread is baked always take it out of the tins straight away. This is so that the bread doesn’t sweat in the tin and give you a soggy loaf.
To test if your loaf is baked tap the bottom of it once it is out of the oven and it should sound hollow. If it doesn’t place the loaf back into the oven for a bit longer.
When Making Cakes...
If you are ever unsure if a cake is baked in the centre, take a skewer and slowly insert it into the centre and pull it back out - if the skewer comes out clean with no batter residue then it is baked.
Once cakes are baked it is wise to leave the cake in the hot tin for a few minutes before you de-tin it. This is so that the cake sweats a bit and retains its moisture and doesn’t tear when you remove it.
When making cakes always take care not to over/under mix because this will affect the appearance of your final product.
When you make cakes and you are using eggs always make sure that the eggs are at room temperature and that you always add them to the mix slowly. This will stop the eggs from curdling in the batter. If curdling occurs you can always try to heat up the mixing bowl by placing a bowl with hot water underneath.
When you bake any confectionary product they tend to colour and burn faster than a breaded product. This is usually due to the amounts of sugar in the recipe, so if a recipe has a high amount of sugar usually it will colour faster than one with less.
When Making Biscuits, Cookies
To test if a biscuit is baked pull the tray from the oven and gently press one of the biscuits with your finger. If the biscuit feels firm then it is baked.
However if you are making a cookie and want a soft gooey one then to test if it is baked you can press the top gently and you should feel some slight resistance and it should still look soft.
Once biscuits, cookies and pastries have been baked, leave them for a few minutes before you place them on cooling wires this is so they can harden a bit and don’t break as you try to move them.
Some tools for the job...
Good for making biscuits, cakes, muffins, ginger bread and all manner of pastries. Used to mix ingredients together and cream butter with sugar.
Good for meringues and sponges. Used to incorporate air into the mix making it very light and fluffy.
Good for breads and yeasted dough’s. This stretches the gluten in the flour so it does the kneading process for you.