I love to bake.
I mean, I love cooking too, but I really love to bake. Just ask my friends & family. They are often the recipients of my creations, because… I should not eat everything I want to bake.
Not that I don’t want to! But alas…I like it when my pants fit.
I find a lot of joy in baking, but I know this isn’t the case for everyone. I know many people who try baking here and there and just never enjoy it. It’s just not their thing. That’s OK, non-bakers! Don’t be hard on yourself. I’m sure you have other things you love to do that I groan at…like gardening, sewing, or visiting amusement parks.
Other people love the idea of baking but often have a big, fat failure when they try. Don’t give up! I was once there too. I still curse the name of biscotti after a baking failure in my early married days. Now after many years of practice, I know my T. from my t. (that’s Tablespoon & teaspoon), know the glory of parchment paper (it saves the life of your baked goods people!), and I’ve baked all sorts of concoctions from homemade bread to wedding cakes to gluten free & paleo.
So you want to improve your baking and cooking?
Well, the first thing you can do is to just keep doing it. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Practice makes perfect over time, and most times, even if it’s messed up it still tastes good and you can hide the results in your stomach.
Second, follow the recipe. I’m serious! When you’re new to cooking & baking or new to a specific technique, follow the recipe. Don’t substitute, don’t change the ingredients. There is often a good reason the recipe instruction is written that way. Sometimes, yes, you can mix it up a bit, but that is an option for a later time. Especially with baking, you need to stick to what’s listed. Baking is a fine art, and a wrong substitution can bring it from a Picasso painting to a toddler crayon scribble on your newly painted wall.
And finally, get yourself a kitchen scale! I know some of you will be doubters, but I can not tell you how often I’ve used mine. Multiple times per week for sure! It’s one of those things that once you get it, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.
Need 9 oz of chocolate chips to melt for a recipe out of a 12 oz bag?
How much is 1 lb of ground beef out of this 2.5 lb package?
10 oz of spaghetti out of this 16 oz bag?
Hmmm…should you eyeball it? Do math? Take a handful and hope for the best?
Or better yet – the recipe lists both measurements in cups but ALSO weight in oz or grams. This is the best! Did you realize that when you measure out a cup of flour that the quantity in the cup can vary drastically depending on if you fluffed your flour first, if you scooped it up with the measuring cup, or if you spooned it into the cup and then leveled? When baking certain things, this can make a big impact on the end result. Too much flour can leave you with dry cakes & cookies, while too little will not rise well, fall flat, or be too greasy.
I love when recipes list both volume and weight measurements. If you love gluten free baking, Nicole at Gluten Free on a Shoestring always provides this info. Not surprisingly, I’ve had fantastic success baking from her recipes.
So what scale to get?
I’ll be honest, there are LOTS out there with all kinds of features and all kinds of prices. Recently EatSmart sent me a kitchen scale to try. I’ve been using a scale in my kitchen for over 15 years, but I was very excited to try out the EatSmart scale for 2 reasons:
- It has excellent accuracy (down to 1 gram or .1 oz) and it weighs up to 11 lbs! My current scale only goes to 5 lbs and is only accurate to 2 grams.
- Its slim design makes storage so easy. My current scale is pretty bulky, but this one is actually thinner than my wood cutting board!
So get out there and get some baking done! Today I have some gluten free hamburger buns in the oven from Megan at Allergy Free Alaska. Can’t wait to dig into those later! And if you’d like to have a chance to win one of these great scales, enter below – EatSmart is giving one away to one of my blog readers! (US residents only, please)
Are you a baker? What is your favorite thing to bake? Do you use a kitchen scale?
(EatSmart Products did send me this scale to try, but all opinions are 100% mine!)