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Friday, March 18, 2011

Tips and Tricks

With as many cake/baking questions I get, you would think I am a professional. I guess I might know more than the average bear when it comes to baking but I am certainly no expert. Basically it is all trial and error along with many many google searches. I've also talked with a lot of people that bake and I follow a ridiculous amount of baking blogs.

Here are a couple of things I've learned along the way...


Ever had a tough time getting brownies and bar type desserts out of the pan? Here's a tip: Parchment paper.

1) Take a piece of parchment paper and cut it to about 4 inches wider than the 13x9in pan.
2) Trim the edges on the 9in sides so it fits right into the pan, leaving the extra hanging over on the 13in side.
3) Lightly spray with cooking spray and pour in the batter. bake as directed.
4) Allow the dish to cool completely. Run a spatula or butter knife along the 9in sides and corners.
5) Grip the parchment paper on the 13in sides and gently lift the whole thing out of the pan, placing it onto a cutting board.
6) Cut into bars.

(I'm not very good at explaining this so here's a picture to help)


To keep it from sticking:

1) Take a piece of parchment paper and lay it out on the counter
2) Place your cake pan (any shape!) face up on the parchment paper.
3) Trace the bottom of the pan using a pen or pencil
4) Cut out the shape
5) Lightly spray the inside of the cake pan
6) Place parchment paper shape into the bottom of the pan (it should lay flat) and lightly spray with cooking spray
7) Pour batter into pan. Bake and cool as directed.

Make it more dense:
Ever have a problem with the cake crumbling when you don't want it to?
1) Add the following to the mix:
    1 Cup Flour
    1 Cup Sugar
    1 Cup Sour Cream

This will also add to the volume of batter so you will have a little more than normal. Bake it as directed.

Crumbs Crumbs Crumbs! Too many Crumbs!
Before slapping on the frosting and hoping for a perfectly iced cake, slap a "crumb coat" on.
1) Take a small amount of frosting and frost the cake with a very thin layer.
2) Refrigerate for about 20 minutes (should be slightly crusty/hard)
3) Frost as you normally would
This is especially helpful when you have a chocolate or dark colored cake and using light colored frosting.

Perfect Frosting recipe:
I know the stuff in the can is quick and easy but lets face it, it melts (quickly!) when it is hot outside, it doesn't harden up and it is super duper sweet! This here is a perfect frosting recipe. I don't use any others.
2 lbs confectioners sugar

1 1/2 cups Crisco
1/2  Cup Water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons extract of choice (lemon, orange, almond, rum, etc.)
1 teaspoon butter flavoring (optional)

Beat Crisco at high speed for 3 minutes. On low speed, add water (or other liquid), and salt. Slowly add sugar and flavorings. Beat on high for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Adjust flavorings and liquid if necessary. The end result should be a smooth and light frosting that is easy to spread.

This recipe may be cut in half or doubled.

Smooth Finish:
1) Use the above frosting recipe.
2) Frost the cake as you normally would, smoothing out the best you can
3) Let the cake sit on the counter for approx 30min. It should feel crusty/slightly hardened to the touch.
4) Cut a piece of parchment paper (about 6in) and lightly place the paper against the cake. Using small circular motions, rub your hand lightly against the paper.
5) Flip the paper over or cut a new piece if it starts to stick


Butter vs Margarine
1) There is no substitute for real butter.
2) You're making a cookie or a cake or some type of dessert, just use real butter. You won't regret it!
3) yes, it does taste different

Flat Cookies:
1) Your butter/crisco is too soft.
2) DO NOT microwave the butter! Set it out for an hour or two before you need to use it.
3) You should be able (easily) to leave a finger print in the butter without the whole stick squishing

Hard Cookies:
1) You used too much flour
2) Add about 2 TBSP of milk, that should help

Melting Chocolate:
The microwave method has never worked for me. My go-to method is the double boiler
1) Fill a medium sauce pan with water and place it over med-low heat
2) Find a glass or stainless steel bowl that can sit on top of the pan but does not fall inside
3) Place the chocolate chips in the glass/steel bowl
4) Stir constantly with a spoon or spatula.
5) Hold the bowl with a pot holder (lots of steam will start coming out)
6) Don't let any water get in the bowl with the chocolate

Hope this helps someone out there.

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