Baking is not easy. When it comes to making the perfect, cake, scone, or cupcake, measurements matter and you cannot rely on your taste palate as you do with cooking.
INSIDER rounded up some of the best baking hacks from Food Network stars, celebrity chefs, and other lauded dessert chefs that will hopefully transform your baking skills.
Here are 14 helpful baking hacks from celebrity pastry chefs.
Throw away your table salt.
Ina Garten, better known as the Barefoot Contessa, likes to replace regular table salt with kosher salt in all her recipes. On her site, Garten wrote, “I use Diamond Crystal kosher salt exclusively in my recipes.”
Freeze dough before baking, not after.
When asked whether to freeze scones before or after baking, Garten replied with “I would roll out the dough, cut out the scones out, and freeze them before baking. Then, defrost and bake when you get there!”
Use extra-large eggs.
When a fan asked Ina Garten what size eggs she uses, she responded saying “I use extra-large eggs in all my recipes.”
Don’t cut your cake until the next day.
We’re often tempted to assemble and cut into our cakes a few hours after baking, but Young told Good Housekeeping to, instead, wrap your cakes in plastic wrap overnight.
“This will make it easier to cut neatly the next day,” he said.
Ignore the oven temperature for a better brownie.
Paul Hollywood’s (“The Great British Bake Off”) trick for fudgy brownies is to increase the temperature of the oven and take the brownies out sooner.
He also told The Food Network UK that he layers “brownie batter and chocolate chunks” in the pan for the ultimate gooey treat.
Beer is the ultimate bread hack.
Hollywood’s tip for flaky restaurant-quality bread is to mix rye flour and beer and then pour that mixture over your raw loaf of bread before baking. You’ll know the bread is done when the top is a “golden-brown.”
Always start with room temperature ingredients when baking cakes.
Candace Nelson, the owner of Sprinkles cupcakes, told Delish that you should always bake with room temperature dairy products. For most recipes, this means butter, eggs, and milk.
“Room temperature is slightly cooler than whatever temperature it is in the room,” Nelson said. “You should be able to press your finger gently into a stick of butter, making a slight indent without it turning mushy.”
The difference between beating and mixing is key.
In a video with Martha Stewart, Nelson beat the butter, sugar, and eggs first when making the perfect cupcake. Then, she added the dry ingredients, switching to mixing – rather than beating – the batter.
Don’t waste money on an icing smoother.
Professional cake makers use an icing smoother or cake scraper to get perfectly even layers of icing. The average icing smoother, however, is $US7 at a pastry shop.
On OraTv, Duff Goldman, owner at Charm City Cakes and “Ace of Cakes” star, says you can get a plastic paint scraper at most hardwood stores for $US1.
Pour boiling water on your cocoa powder.
When cooking with cocoa powder, pastry chef Ron Ben-Israel (“Cake Wars,” “Nailed It”) said the key is to “pour boiling water or very hot coffee on the cocoa powder.”
“The different thing about my recipe is that it gives the strongest chocolate flavour possible. I learned to pour boiling water or very hot coffee on the cocoa powder. The cocoa powder is actually very rich with cocoa fat, and if you pour the hot liquid on it, the liquid brings out the aroma and deep flavour and makes the chocolate much more intense,” Chef Ron explained to the Food Network.
Always whip egg whites.
Ben-Israel told O that you should always “whip your egg whites” because that will “make everything extra-light.”
Bake brownies on the grill.
It’s not necessarily a hack, but it is a unique spin on baking. Valerie Gordon of LA’s Valerie Confections bakes her brownies over the grill. You’ll need an outdoor grill and a cast iron skillet, but she swears by the puffy and smokey brownies this method creates. Get her grilled brownie recipe here.
Always sift dry ingredients.
Pastry chef and owner of Indian bakery chain Le15 Patisserie Pooja Dhingra told Food.NDTV that you must always sift your dry ingredients. “This allows your flour gets some air that makes the cake rise better,” she said.
Never melt chocolate in a glass bowl.
Common knowledge dictates that you should melt chocolate in a glass bowl but Kirsten Tibballs – one of Australia’s most famous chocolatiers – told Epicure that you should always melt chocolate in a plastic bowl instead because “glass retains heat and will un-temper your chocolate.”
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