9 Super useful baking tips for gluten-free and non-gluten-free bakers alike. Learn the secrets of the baking industry that will take you from a baking enthusiast to a pro pastry chef in no time.
In this blog we’ve already gone through a bunch of key gluten and dairy-free baking tips, but there are so many more we haven’t covered yet that are well known in the professional baking industry. I think you guys deserve to know these industry secrets!
Keep in mind that every recipe is different, so it may take a little experimentation to get the right results. But with a few simple swaps, precautions, and tricks, you’ll be able to whip up an amazing dessert like a pro.
1. Get Rid of the Clumps BEFORE Mixing
It seems ridiculous, but all those little clumps of brown sugar, icing sugar, and cocoa powder won’t actually blend in to the batter as well as we think they will. It’s a giant pain to sift those sorts of ingredients, but the silky smooth result will be 100% worth it.
Pro tip: To speed up the process, place a fine-grated strainer over top of a stable bowl. Pour in whichever ingredient needs sifting, and use your hand to move the powder around and through the grate. I definitely recommend putting on a glove for this!
2. Watch the Oven Temperature and Cooking Time
Just like every person and every snowflake, every oven is different. Never take the oven settings on a recipe at face value. Instead, use it as a starting point. I would definitely suggest grabbing an oven thermometer, because on top the unique designs of each oven, their internal thermometers aren’t always 100% accurate. Start watching your baked goods and other culinary masterpieces like a hawk about 75% of the way through the cooking process!
Even if you know your personal oven like the back of your hand, so many little things during the prep work could influence how much time it needs in the oven. Maybe the room temperature was a little warmer this time when you were mixing your ingredients so now the perfect “doneness” timing is a minute less than usual - c’est la vie!
3. Win the Gluten Free Pie Dough War
Gluten free dough is a Karen. It’s very picky, and you’ll never be able to transfer it from the rolling pin to the pie plate without a crack, and you’ll probably have to go get your manager.
Step 1: Roll it out between two pieces of wax or parchment paper.
Step 2: Move the rolled out dough from lying on top of the counter to on top of a cutting board, or a flat, sturdy, and mobile surface.
Step 3: Remove the top layer of wax/parchment paper and replace it with the pie plate. Do not apply pressure here.
Step 4: In one swift motion, flip the pie plate, dough, and cutting board over so that the dough can fall into the pie plate.
Step 5: Shift around the dough and correct any cracks or breakage with your finger tips and some water.
4. Be a Chemist About Yeast
As gross as it sounds, yeast is a live culture, and you need to treat it like a newborn baby. To get dry active yeast to grow and bubble as it should, you can’t take the instruction to heat up your milk substitute or whatever liquid you’re using for activation between 110 and 115 F seriously enough. Any temperature above 115F will kill the yeast and render your dessert flat!
When you’re working with gluten free dough, you need to take the chemistry one step further. Because the gluten structure isn’t there, you’re going to need to use the pan that you put the dessert into as the structure-forming element. In other words, part of the rising process is going to need to happen in the pan without you working with it after it reaches it’s final (doubled) size!
5. Temper Your Eggs (If Necessary)
The word tempering makes it sound like you’re going to need to calm the eggs down, but here we use the word “temper” as in “temperature”. Eggs have the really unique feature of proteins that fluff up and solidify when cooked, and you can really use this to your advantage.
Did you know that tempered eggs can be used to thicken everything from sauces and creams to doughs?
Tempering involves adding two liquids together until they reach a mutual temperature together. In other words, you’re going to add a much warmer liquid to the eggs to slowly bring up the eggs’ temperature and thicken them. Make sure when you do this that you’re constantly whisking, and that you’re adding the warmer liquid very slowly.
6. Temperature is a Decorating Tool
Have you ever noticed that shows like “Nailed It” always have countless disasters that could have been avoided if the contestant just properly cooled down their cake layers or cupcake before they started decorating it? Temperature is SO CRUCIAL!
Remember to have patience and wait until your dessert is at the proper level of coolness before you: cut cake layers, apply a crumb coat, apply a top coat or fondant, pipe anything, or add a garnish of some kind.
7. Let the Air Bubbles Escape
Before you go and apply the top coat of frosting to a cake, make sure to poke a very small hole going all the way through the cake from the top down through every layer of frosting. As the cake settles, air bubbles will inevitably work themselves out, and trust me when I say that you’ll want them to work their way up the channel you created as opposed to the side of the finished cake!! I’ve had this happen to me, and it’s not fun to try to fix.
8. Strain Berries Well
Using real fruit in your desserts is fantastic and offers a flavour like no other. However, their juiciness can actually create problems for you as the baker! Too much moisture = not thick enough or leaking.
If you’re going to use frozen berries, make sure they’re completely thawed and dried before you add them to your recipe. If you’re short on time and need to get ‘er done quick, just remember to cook them a little longer than usual to get out that extra water!
9. If Consistency is Important, Go Slowly
If you need to get the perfect consistency for things like cake pops, glazes, royal icing, etc., add little bits of moisture in at a time to avoid losing control. It’s kind of like getting a haircut - you can always take a little more off, but you can’t glue it back on. Patience is key!