Tips, Tricks, and Tools

 

Fillings and Frosting

  • When cooking lemon/lime curd, be sure to mix the egg yolks and sugar together before adding the juice.  The sugar raises the curdling point of the eggs and makes for a smoother curd.
  • Freeze leftover frosting for later projects.
  • When making cream cheese frosting, you want both your butter and your cream cheese at room temperature.
  • Typically, in the U.S., powdered sugar comes in 2 pound bags which equals about 8 cups.
  • Use a glass when filling a piping bag.
  • A turntable, offset spatula, and bench scraper are some of your best tools for making pretty cake.

Bread and Pastry

  • Active dry yeast needs to be proofed in about 1/4 cup of warm (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit) water before adding it to your recipe.  Instant yeast can be thrown directly into the recipe.
  • Salt will kill yeast, so do not add them together when making bread dough.  But it is important not to forget the salt in the bread recipe or your dough could grow out of control. 
  • If a recipe calls for 1 package of yeast, it is the same at using 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast from a jar.

Cake

  • When baking a cake that you want to remove from the pan, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper (not wax) paper then grease and flour the pan before putting the cake batter in the pan.  When it comes out of the oven, wait 15 minutes, run a knife or cake tester along the edges of the cake pan and then turn the cake out onto a cooling rack.  Make sure you remove the parchment and flip the cake back over to cool.  If you leave it upside down, it will stick to the cooling rack.  Or use Baker's Joy That stuff is sweet!
  • Cream cheese does not properly melt, so when making a cheesecake make sure there are no lumps because they will not bake out in the oven.
  • Bring a "fix it kit" when traveling with your decorated cake or cupcakes, it will make you less angry when something gets smooshed.
  • Use straws as a cheaper and easier alternative to dowel rods to support cake.

Fondant and Gum Paste

  • To store fondant, rub a thin layer of vegetable shortening over the whole thing.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then seal into a large freezer bag.
  • To knead gumpaste, rub some vegetable shortening on your hands to prevent sticking.  Do the same with the work surface.
  • If your fondant got a little bit hard in storage, pop it into the microwave for 10 seconds to soften.
  • When coloring fondant, if you have some food grade plastic gloves, they will prevent your hands from turning colors.  

Cookies

  • If you use butter instead of margarine in your cookies, the dough will spread a bit more so be sure to leave extra space between cookies on the sheet.
  • A cookie scoop is one of my best friends in the kitchen.  It gives me nice round cookies that are evenly sized.  I have two sizes: a small and medium and use both depending on what size cookie I am looking for.


 

Miscellaneous

  • Use shelf paper to provide a no skid surface when transporting your cakes and cupcakes 
  • Don't put your crockpot directly on the stove.  It will probably crack.
  • Use powdered buttermilk instead of actual buttermilk to save from spoiled buttermilk
  • You can freeze butter.  You cannot freeze cream cheese.  Trust me.
  • Not interested in using granulated sugar.  Honey, agave, brown rice syrup and maple syrup make good alternatives.
  • If you forgot to set your butter out to warm up, you can soften it quickly in the microwave
  • Peanut butter-use the full fat, full sugar stuff.  Natural is good for eating but not great for baking.

 Canning and Preserving

  • Always boil one more jar than you think you will need, rarely does it cause an issue having an extra sanitized jar, but it is a huge pain if you don't have enough.
  • Don't forget to wipe the rim of your jar before putting the flat on top. 

 Candy

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