We’re getting close to the Christmas season and that means lots of baking. If you’re like me, you’re always looking for new ways to improve the classics. That often means experimenting with spices and looking up challenging recipes. However, you can improve your baking very easily. Here’s a list of the best and most unique tips I’ve discovered:
#1: Use room-temperature eggs
The temperature of the eggs actually matters when it comes to baking. Why? They’re easier to whip, first of all, but there’s science at play, as well. When eggs are warm, the egg’s protein traps air, which results in lighter and fluffier baked goods. Also, using warm eggs prevents the curdling that can occur when you add cold eggs to a fat at room temperature.
#2: Don’t go cheap on ingredients
The higher-quality ingredients you use for baking, the higher the quality of flavor. If you usually go with the cheapest or medium-priced flour, sugar, butter, etc, now is the time to get supplies that are a bit nicer. It’s totally worth it, especially when it comes to chocolate.
#3: Toast your sugar
Something magical happens to plain white sugar when you toast it in a low oven all day. It becomes infused with a caramel flavor and turns from white to golden. It’s a long process, but you can do pounds at a time, so once it’s done, it’s done. You can also toast it for just two hours instead of 6-7; the flavor will be slightly different than if you toasted the whole time, but it’s still unique and delicious. For instructions, click on this link to Serious Eats.
#4: Brown your butter
I will never stop singing the praises of browned butter; it’s transformed the way I bake cookies. By melting butter in a pot and letting it get bubbly and frothy, turning from yellow to amber, you get a much nuttier, almost sweet flavor. It really enhances the flavor of cookies.
#5: Use vanilla paste instead of vanilla extract
If you’re someone who loves vanilla and always takes a deep inhale of your vanilla extract, you’ll love vanilla paste. It’s sold in jars and has a thicker, syrupy consistency compared to vanilla extract. It also has vanilla bean seeds in it, which give it a stronger vanilla flavor. Substitute an equal amount of paste for extract in sugar cookies, frosting, and so on.
#6: Add a little coffee to enhance chocolate flavors
Even if you don’t like the taste of coffee, adding a little brew or espresso powder will actually make your chocolate desserts burst with more chocolate flavor. You won’t taste the coffee. Substitute just a tablespoon or two of a liquid ingredient if you’re going with the brewed stuff, or a dry ingredient like flour or sugar, if you’re using espresso powder.
#7: Adapt stand-bys with seasonal extracts
If you like to stick with what you know, but want to add some more festivity, using extracts is really easy strategy. Instead of regular vanilla, sub in peppermint extract for your classic brownies, and you’ll end up with a take on peppermint cocoa. Other extract ideas include pistachio and orange, the latter of which I use for otherwise-ordinary chocolate chip cookies.
If you love baking, you’re engaging in one of the most effective methods of self-care. It’s been proven by science!