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A few weeks into lockdown many of us were whipping and whisking our way to beautiful desserts and it was brilliant! However, when the cake is in the oven and the stack of baking bowls, cake moulds, and piping nozzles are towering over your kitchen sink it can feel less like a hobby and more like a chore.
Here are 10 tips to make weekend baking a breeze:
1. Pick what you want to bake early in the week. This will give you time to select a recipe that suits your skill level and will give you and your family something to look forward to at the end of a long week.
2. Read over the recipe! Few things are more frustrating than the ‘chill overnight’ instruction in the last step of a recipe. Reading the recipe carefully will allow you to plan your time so that you can bake your creation and still have time to enjoy the rest of your weekend plans.
3. Make a precise list of ingredients that you need and check that you have the correct size baking tins. The ratio of fat and sugar in a recipe weaken the structure of a baked product. Making sure you use the correct size tin for your baked good according to the recipe will prevent any accidental collapses.
4. Buy your ingredients well in advance to give yourself time to hunt down any specialist ingredients online or at baking shops. Although many of us are guilty of using cocoa powder when the recipe calls for Dutch cocoa powder, the two have different alkalinities that react with baking powder slightly differently and the wrong one may compromise the texture of your cake.
5. Make sure you understand the baking terminology in your recipe. Beating, whisking, and cutting are all ways of mixing but mean different methods in the sugary world of baking. With hundreds of different baking terms out there, you may need to ask a baker friend or research terms to know what the recipe is asking you to do.
6. Start with a clean kitchen. Nothing is more treacherous than trying to balance a cake tin full of batter precariously on the edge of your counter, and cleaning cake batter off the floor is not fun for anyone. Best to avoid any accidents altogether and begin with enough clean space for you to work.
7. Grease or line your tins before you begin and preheat your oven. All food cooks unevenly in a cold oven and yeast, baking soda and baking powder will react differently at varying temperatures. Pre-heating your oven will help ensure your cake rises as you planned, not to mention it will make your kitchen toasty in the winter weather.
8. Measure your ingredients carefully. Baking relies on the chemical reactions between the ingredients in your recipe to achieve that perfectly light cake or chewy cookie. There is also a slight difference between dry and liquid cup quantities so whenever possible measure by weight.
9. Set up a bake-off with a friend. A friendly game of “Who baked it Best” is a great way to motivate yourself to get into the kitchen, a fabulous way to socialise and an easy way to learn from one another.
10. Bake a nostalgic recipe. Baking is extraordinary in that almost everyone you meet will have a happy memory of their mom’s cake, their granny’s cookies or their aunties koeksisters. The taste and smell of these delights are treasured memories and making one of these recipes for a family member is like serving them a happy slice of childhood. Literally.
Although baking can seem daunting after a week of juggling work, kids and familial commitments, weekend recipes can be a fun way to unwind. Not to mention supplying delicious treats for weekend activities like picnics, family braais or just to show off your inner superwoman to your friends.