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Baking Tips and Tricks

Category Baking
Baking can be a fun, rewarding experience for the beginner and the expert. This guide contains baking tips and tricks.
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February 7, 19998 found this helpful

When making cookies and squares, I never find that I need as many chocolate chips or nuts as the recipe calls for. Manufacturers are trying to sell their product. I don't believe in reducing the amount too much. By only putting in what is needed, I have reduced the fat content of the sweets and have some ingredients left over for the next batch.

By Kathy

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August 11, 20064 found this helpful

Don't have the correct size baking pan for a cake or casserole? Downsize a larger one by simply molding a piece of heavy duty foil and fitting it in the pan to adjust for the desired dimensions as shown. You could also add a second piece of foil perpendicular to the one in place to adjust the width of the pan as well as the length. Then line the entire pan with parchment or a sheet of foil and pour in batter or casserole ingredients. This has worked many times for me in a pinch when the pan I had on hand was too big and I did not want to end up with a flat cake.

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By Carolyn from Bellevue, WA

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January 5, 2011

Baking is an exact science, and it is important to be well prepared. Here's how:

  1. Read recipe several times.

  2. Gather ingredients.

  3. Gather necessary equipment, including cooling racks.

  4. Ready ingredients, such as toasting nuts or zesting a lemon.

  5. Prepare pan, such as greasing and flouring.

  6. Reread recipe.

  7. Preheat oven.

  8. Measure ingredients.

  9. Mix ingredients according to recipe specifications.

  10. Place baked good in oven.

  11. Clean kitchen and put away ingredients.

Tips:

Source: My Mom

By JodiT from Aurora, CO

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May 5, 2011

I am very thrifty. To make my parchment paper last longer, I bake with it at least twice before throwing it away. I use it when baking cookies and bread. I just flip it over and reuse it for the next batch. Works like a charm and saves money too!

By Painterlee from Indialantic, FL

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By 6 found this helpful
May 15, 2009

When baking cupcakes if I don't fill all of the tins, I put an ice cube in the empty cups. This is easier than filling the empties with water.

By karpar from Sterling, MA

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By 5 found this helpful
December 28, 2009

Hello everyone. I hope you had a very happy Holiday. While I was baking cookies with my 8 year old grandson, I complained about all the crumbs left under the cooling rack when I was finished baking and what a chore it was to clean it up.

Well, Zack said to me, "Noni, why don't you place paper towels under the cooling racks and then you can just pick up the paper towels and throw them in the trash?" I was so surprised that he came up with this idea. We put paper towels under the racks and it was a breeze to clean up. My grandson is one "Smart Cookie"!

By k9cats from Rohnert Park, CA

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June 7, 2010

With the electric oven, my whole wheat muffins were always on the dark side when they finished baking because the oven temperature didn't drop fast enough from 500 to 350 degrees F as printed in the recipe.

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September 23, 2014

If you have some extra batter when making things like banana or zucchini breads, wash out a used soup or vegetable can. Spray with nonstick spray and fill 2/3 full with batter.

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By 3 found this helpful
December 6, 2012

I have a car coffee cup that has a screw on lid, and a little tab that opens up to a little hole, where I can drink coffee from. I got tired of getting flour all over everywhere when I just needed some sprinkled on my cooking projects.

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By 3 found this helpful
July 30, 2010

Use the extra oven rack for a cooling rack for cakes, cookies, etc. For smaller items like cookies, cover the rack with foil to keep them from falling through.

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By 6 found this helpful
September 22, 2009

When you need a cooling rack for a baking sheet full of cookies or a cake pan just removed from the oven, remove one of your stoves burner grills and set it on the counter top to set the cooling pan on top of it, so air can circulate beneath it.

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November 18, 20054 found this helpful

When making your Thanksgiving pies or bread, dip your fingers in some melted butter to keep them from sticking to the pie or bread dough.

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July 14, 20051 found this helpful

I take fruits and put them into a blender and then bake breads, biscuits, cakes etc. with this blend. This way I only have to add a pinch or two of oil. They come out tasteful and really good.

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November 12, 20123 found this helpful

Many recipes call for a 9 x 13 inch pan. I began using two 9 x 9 inch pans instead. This results in getting more portions from a recipe while also requiring less oven baking time.

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By 0 found this helpful
October 3, 2007

When making chocolate brownies or cake and the recipe says "grease and flour the pan" substitute Nestle's Quik for the flour. The cake, or whatever you're making, will release from the pan more easily and the extra taste on the sides is a real family pleaser (especially when you make chocolate fudge brownies).

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April 16, 20050 found this helpful

The right tools make all the difference when baking and cooking. I saved for years to acquire the very best kitchen tools I could find, especially for the "luxury" tools that I now consider essentials, such as different scoops for cookies, meatballs, etc.

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February 3, 2015

When you are cooking any and all food dishes, always add a teaspoon of sugar. It enhances the spices and flavors of what you are making; as does salt to any sweet recipes you are about to make.

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May 5, 20120 found this helpful

Can flour, butter, sugar, and vanilla that has been left in the cupboard for 3 days be used to make shortbread cookies. Is it safe to eat the cookies even though the ingredients were left in the cupboard in a bowl for 3 days?

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February 28, 20050 found this helpful

Baking parchment paper can be used more than once! I have found I can get two bakings from one sheet of parchment, even though those baking sessions may be more than a week apart.

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By 0 found this helpful
February 22, 2008

I just bought a couple new bread pans. Nice shiny ones. It turns out that because of the shine, the bread browns on the top, but doesn't bake or brown well on the bottom. My husband found the perfect remedy.

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January 10, 20050 found this helpful

If you don't have the air cushioned cookie sheets, just stack two regular cookie sheets together. No more burnt bottoms and lots cheaper than the air sheets! By Debbie

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December 8, 20040 found this helpful

Put a 2 section piece of paper towel on the counter when you start to bake. If you spill anything, it all goes in the trash when you clean up. Mixing spoons and spatulas go on it, too.

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March 2, 20170 found this helpful

Paper liners can make revving muffins easier. However, a layer of butter or shortening will also allow the muffins to come out just fine. This is a guide about using muffin pans without paper liners.

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March 2, 20170 found this helpful

For many recipes, shortening and butter can be used relatively interchangeably. This is a guide about substituting butter for shortening.

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March 2, 20170 found this helpful

According to some cooks the best way to remember the difference is that dark pans result in darker crusts, or cookie bottoms and lighter pans mean higher ones. This is a guide about when to use dark or light baking pans.

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February 25, 20170 found this helpful

Unbleached all purpose flour is interchangeable with regular all purpose flour. The only difference is that the unbleached flour hasn't gone through the chemical process to make it white.

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May 29, 20130 found this helpful

This is a guide about low-fat baking tips. You can reduce the fat in your baked goods without a loss of flavor.

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November 5, 20120 found this helpful

This page contains Christmas baking tips and tricks. A tradition for this winter holiday is many, yummy baked treats.

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January 12, 2011

When cooking tart fruits such as rhubarb, apricots, grapes, or red raspberries, add a generous amount of cinnamon. For grapes, add vanilla too, for a different flavor.

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July 26, 20070 found this helpful

When you are filling your muffin pans, use an ice cream scoop so that your muffins will all be the same size. Also you will not spill the batter on the top of the pans. Clean up is much easier.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 23, 2007

Dip your spoon in milk when baking cakes, brownies or cookies. This will keep the batter from sticking to the spoon when scraping the bowl or spooning out the batter.

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October 14, 20050 found this helpful

By baking your own pastries, cakes, pies, cookies, etc., instead of purchasing them already pre-made in your grocer's bakery...

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March 18, 20050 found this helpful

Cakes and cookies bake more evenly in the center of your oven. If you are baking more than one item, try to place them as close to the center of the oven as possible but leave about an inch between them.

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December 18, 20040 found this helpful

When baking, in order to remember which ingredients have been put into your bowl do this: Place all items to the left of your bowl. As you use them; move to the right of your bowl.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
January 15, 2014

What can I substitute for a tart baking dish?

By Harriet

Answers

August 13, 20140 found this helpful

Glass pie dish.:)

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June 5, 20140 found this helpful

I have a delicious recipe for fresh rhubarb loaf. Can I make muffins with this recipe and if so how long should I bake them. The loaf recipe calls for 55 to 60 minutes at 350F.

By Dorothy

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May 29, 20130 found this helpful

I have several old baking recipes that say bake only in a gas oven. When I tried to bake these cookies in my electric oven they would be burnt or uncooked in the center. Have any suggestions?

By Thelma S

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January 3, 20110 found this helpful

By Ness - Lakeview, NY

Here's some more baking tips I thought I could pass on. While the things I do while baking are habit to me, some may be new to you.

Here's what I came up with while baking recently:

1. You can cover any old pizza pan, cookie sheet (mine are old and BLACK from use!), tray, or even thick corrugated piece of cardboard to make a very nice holder for your cake. Doesn't matter how awful whatever is UNDER the foil looks like, as long as it is sturdy enough to hold a cake.

2. Instant pudding (stock up when it's on sale) makes a great filling for any cake. I use one cup of milk with one instant pudding box mix to make a thick filling. This will fill one layer of a 9 inch round or square cake nicely (with a little left over to lick off the spoon!).

3. You don't necessarily need 2 layers to fill a cake. One thick layer (that is, one 18.5 ounce cake mix baked in a 9" round pan, for example) can be sliced in half and then filled. This takes a little practice, but go slowly and use a long narrow bread knife or slicing knife to cut the cake into 2 layers.

4. You can enhance a can of generic frosting (or stock up when they are on sale) with a block of cream cheese beaten into it. However, if you FREEZE your cream cheese (like I do), once you defrost it, it does not "blend" as well and can become "grainy" in the frosting, so nuke it a bit first to make it *very* soft. (However, ex-frozen cream cheese is fine on bagels, however; just defrost & no need to nuke it!)

5. If you are "flouring" the cake pan so you can turn the cake out after it is baked, and the cake is chocolate, you can use a little cocoa powder instead of flour. Looks & tastes great!

6. You can use spoiled milk instead of the water called for in a cake mix, so no need to toss the milk that went a little sour; make a cake with it instead. You can also use the juice from any canned fruit when baking a cake mix, instead of the water the recipe calls for, as well as orange juice, lemonade, buttermilk, even beer or whiskey, etc. You get the idea. Each liquid gives the cake a subtly different and good flavor.

7. An inexpensive chocolate cake mix (again, stock up when they are on sale!), split into 2 layers, filled with chocolate instant pudding filling, and topped with about 1/4 cup of sifted confectioner's sugar can be a very elegant dessert with just a little extra effort. Yes, that's what I made recently, and it turned out so pretty (and tasty). It looks even prettier with a few fresh strawberries or some well-drained canned mandarin oranges to garnish the top.

Have fun baking everyone, I sure do!

About The Author: Ness, list mom of Frugal Friends in the Kitchen

Answers:

More Baking Tips

Here is another tip. Instead of cutting a cake through the center with a knife, use dental floss. Cut a piece of floss longer than the cake is round. Wrap it around the cake and tie a knot, continue pulling on the ends until it has cut through the cake. Clean, no crumbs and very easy. - (05/10/2001)

By Judy

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January 3, 20110 found this helpful

I was thinking about some of the ways I have learned how to make baking easier, less expensive, more creative, or more efficient. Here's my little list, learned from years of experience.

  1. You can divide packaged cake mixes in half and only make half a cake at a time. If the original recipe called for 3 eggs, and you "half" the recipe, use 1 extra large egg instead of trying to fool around and come up with 1 1/2 eggs.

  2. You can substitute applesauce (homemade or store bought) for most or even all of the oil in a cake or brownie mix, but it will make for a denser, lower-rising finished product. I think it works best in brownies.

  3. You can save all your cookie crumbs and odd cookies, whiz them in the food processor or break them up with a rolling pin while in a sealed plastic baggie. Use the cookie crumbs as pie crusts (mixed with some butter to hold them together), especially for frozen or for pudding pies. Also use the crumbled cookies to add to brownie mixes for extra texture and flavor. Also you can freeze cookie crumbs and broken cookies in a ziploc bag until you have enough for whatever you are making.

  4. Make up your own cake toppings to make a plain frosted cake fancier. Use coconut, chopped nuts (toast them for even better flavor), chocolate chips, chopped chocolate bars, sprinkles, small nonpareils, etc.

  5. You can use any fruit jam as a filling between cake layers. The thicker the jam, the better. I especially like apricot jam as a filling for yellow cakes, and raspberry jam as a filling for chocolate cakes.

  6. You can use any instant pudding mix for filling between cake layers, too. Just use a bit less than the recommended amount of milk to make the pudding thicker: if it calls for 2 cups of milk to the package of pudding, I use 1 1/2 cups.

  7. When a cake recipe or a bread recipe calls for "water", I have substituted milk, spoiled milk, buttermilk, Half-n-Half, soy milk, even fruit juice. I do this to "use up" any little bits of leftover milk or juice I may have. If I don't have enough of the milk (or whatever), I make up the difference with water. All ingredients have worked nicely for me in the past, and give the cake a slightly different flavor (or a denser texture) each time.

  8. You can mix different fruits in your fruit pies. For example, not just strawberry and rhubarb, but blueberry and rhubarb go well together. Apples and pears go well together. Peaches and raspberries go well together. Experiment!

  9. If you don't have enough pastry to make a top crust on a fruit pie, make a crumb topping instead. You can make this topping many ways: with brown sugar, oatmeal, and butter; or crushed cornflakes, honey, and butter; or crushed graham crackers, butter, and sugar; etc. You get the idea.

  10. You can almost never have too much cinnamon in a recipe. I almost always DOUBLE the amount of cinnamon in a baking recipe for added flavor.

Hope these little tips were helpful. I guess my all-time best tip would be to HAVE FUN when you are baking and don't be afraid to occasionally experiment. We all have a few "flops" sometimes, but the good"experiments" become tomorrow's tried-and-true recipes.

By Ness - Lakeview, NY

About The Author: List Mom of Frugal Friends in the Kitchen
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FrugalFriendsintheKitchen

Answers:

Keeping Track of Dry Ingredients

When measuring dry ingredients, I use a toothpick for each cup added. Really helps me keep track.

(12/10/2004)

By Faye

Greasing Cake Pans

If you don't like getting your hands greasy to prepare cake pans and etc. just use a sandwich bag as a quick glove.

(12/21/2004)

By Melanie

Baking Tips

I enjoy making cakes and have several very good recipies that I use and I make them for my wife's work place for the birthday employees. We have recently purchased a new electric range and ever since I am having problems with my cakes falling in the center. Any suggestions? (03/17/2005)

By Phil

Baking Tips

The cake falling in center is because it hasn't finished baking (09/13/2005)

By minymont

Baking Tips

When you use applesauce instead of oil, do you use the same amount of applesauce as oil? A cup for a cup. Thank you

Editor's Note: You can replace oil with applesauce in equal quantities although I've heard it is good to put 1 TBSP. of oil in in addition. It might really depend on the recipe, if it calls for a lot of oil and you are not deep frying it (that takes lots of oil and applesauce really won't work for that!) add the little bit of oil.

(05/13/2006)

By Mrs. G

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