Many have a love/hate relationship when it comes to baking. Cakes that aren’t level, pie crusts that are burnt, cookies harder than rocks — these are all hazards of the “craft.” But we power through these obstacles because at the end of the day there’s nothing better than the aroma of a homemade treat.
However, with a few simple baking hacks, you can whip up professional-looking baked goods (or even just edible treats) without professional experience.
Dental floss to cut a cake
Unless you have the hands of a surgeon, cutting a cake into even layers is not an easy task. Our hack? Start off with unflavored dental floss. Wrap gently around a cooled cake until the ends meet, and then cross the ends of the floss and slowly pull. Within a minute you’ll have two perfectly even cake layers. Repeat for more layers.
Parchment paper to avoid cookies sticking
We’ve all had that one batch of cookies that looks great when it comes out of the oven, but when you try to pick up a cookie, the next thing you know, you’re scraping off cookie-bottom chunks from the sheet. Next batch, take a piece of parchment paper (large enough to cover the whole area) and cover the baking sheet. Then bake for the suggested time on the recipe.
Once the cookies are done, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Carefully lift the parchment paper, with the cookies still on it, and set it onto a cooling rack or flat place on your counter. Doing this will give the cookies time to cool, and if another batch needs to go in right after, just cut a second piece. If you’ve got some cooling time to spare, parchment paper can be reused until all the cookies are baked.
Oat flour as baking substitute
Flour is the foundation of many desserts, but white flour in all its glutenous glory is not high on everyone’s list of preferred ingredients these days. Using oats as a substitute is a great way to make those delicious treats we love without the added guilt or dietary issues.
All you have to do is pulse dry oats in a food processor (or for a small amount, a coffee grinder works great) until they closely resemble a flour-like texture. Note that you’ll need to measure the oats for recipes after they’ve been pulsed to align with the correct amount of flour needed.
Tap cake pan to remove air bubbles
Imagine you just removed a beautiful, perfectly baked cake from the oven and you set it out to cool. A few minutes later you return to find it has sunk three whole inches — and is it leaning to the left? To keep your cakes from sinking, tap the side of the cake pan to remove any air bubbles from the batter before baking, giving your cake a chance to come out fluffy and full.
Dirty frost for a polished look
An impeccably frosted cake is usually reserved for TV baking show competitions and cartoons — not something everyone takes the extra time to do. But believe me — it’s worth it! Begin by placing a large amount of frosting on top of the cake. Spread onto the top and down the sides, making sure only a thin, almost translucent layer is spread. Don’t worry if there are crumbs all over the icing; this will be covered in the next layer. Once the whole cake is covered, let it rest for at least 25 minutes before spreading the top layer of frosting and placing the final decorations. This will ensure a flawless, finished cake — and seriously impressed friends.
Room temperature eggs in minutes
We know we’re not the only ones guilty of skipping that part of the recipe that calls for room temperature eggs. Thankfully, there’s a solution. Just place the eggs into a small bowl with enough warm water to cover them and let them sit for five minutes. This will quickly bring them to room temperature and free up time to complete the recipe.
Non-stick spray to release hard-to-measure ingredients
There’s no bigger baking time waster than having to clean out the same tablespoon between measuring sticky ingredients such as honey or maple syrup for one recipe. Good thing there’s a quick hack for that. Simply coat any cup, spoon or other measuring vessel with non-stick spray and watch those sticky ingredients slide right off.
Eggs, flour, sugar…oh fudge! This recipe calls for buttermilk, which you obviously don’t have because who has buttermilk readily available in their refrigerator? For those times you’re in a pinch, here’s an easy solution using two things most homes always have on hand.
Take a cup of milk (preferably whole or 2%) and stir in a tablespoon of vinegar. Let the mix stand for 10 to 15 minutes. The results should look slightly thickened and curdled. Once this is complete, the mixture is ready to be used. Hooray for a bit of quick thinking and ingenuity!
With these baking hacks, you’ve got everything you need to help you whip up the goods like a pro. Using them not only saves you time but will result in professional-looking treats everyone will rave about!