We’re pleased to introduce our guest blogger this week: Sheri Silver. Sheri was born and raised in Brooklyn and has lived for the last 20 years in a lovely little suburb about 40 minutes north of New York City. She also runs her own blog Sherri Silver, where you'll find lots of yummy recipes!
When cooking, a “pinch of this” or a “dash of that” typically won’t make an appreciable difference to the final dish. In fact, most experienced cooks take pride in tweaking recipes and making adjustments along the way.
But when it comes to baking? Not so much. Baking is much more of an exact science, with precision and attention to detail being critical to success. And this can spark fear in the hearts of even the most confident cooks, which is why you’ll often hear people say, “I love to cook but hate to bake”.
Well, I’m here today to change that.
See, most people don’t realize that the MOST important factor to a successful baked good is in understanding how to correctly read the recipe and measure the ingredients. While not the most exciting topic to be sure, mastering these basic skills will make all the difference to the end result. And once you learn these rules, you’ll be whipping up deliciously PERFECT cookies, cakes and brownies in no time.
Ready to geek out?
Always measure dry ingredients (sugar, flour, almond meal) in measuring cups. To do so, scoop your ingredient into the cup – without tapping or leveling – and then scrape the excess off with the edge of a knife. Like this:
As for liquids (milk, cream, juice) – they should be measured in a spouted cup. Hold the cup at eye level (or place it on a counter and kneel down so you’re looking straight on) and pour your ingredient to the correct line. As you see in the Pyrex image below:
I want to talk for a minute about another way to measure – which is to weigh your ingredients using a kitchen scale. I started doing this years ago, and it’s pretty much the way I exclusively bake, for a few reasons. First, even the most careful scoop-and-level will never be as accurate as a scale. One hundred grams is always one hundred grams. Second, I HATE to wash dishes, and weighing eliminates extra cups and spoons. Simply place your mixing bowl on the scale, reset it to zero and add your first ingredient. Zero it out again and add your second ingredient. And so on. There are all kinds of conversion charts online to help you figure out what 2 cups of flour or 3/4 cup sugar weigh, and I’m betting once you start weighing you’ll never turn back!
“1/2 cup almonds, chopped”
“1/2 cup chopped almonds”
Though they look similar, they are NOT. In the first case, measure 1/2 cup of whole almonds and then chop them. And in the second case, chop the almonds and then fill your measuring cup.
When working with sticky or viscous ingredients, such as honey, maple syrup or molasses, lightly coat your measuring cup or spoon with a bit of oil or cooking spray. Your ingredient will slip right out, neat and clean!
And when using ingredients like peanut butter, shortening or coconut oil, place a piece of waxed paper in the cup before measuring.
Then simply lift the paper out, transfer your ingredient to a measuring bowl, and dispose of the paper. No greasy cup to wash!
As with anything, practice makes perfect – and your chances for perfection will be greatly increased when you know just how to measure your ingredients, and what tools to use!
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