Monday, January 9, 2012

Baking tips

I'm an avid baker and over the years I've developed some strategies that help me keep the guesswork out of baking and increase my enjoyment of it. Not surprisingly, these strategies keep me organized as I bake, so I feel in control and get better results from my recipes!

Here are a few tips from my kitchen, and a recipe that I love.
  • I always get out all of the ingredients I will need at once before I start anything, that way I can see if I'm missing anything.
  • Then, as I finish using an ingredient, I put the rest of the item away. This might seem like an extra step, but it helps me see if there is anything left on the counter when I think I am done, so I can tell if I've accidentally left an ingredient out.
  • Using the correct temperature butter, eggs and other dairy products usually does affect the outcome of a recipe. I always try to plan ahead and pull those items out of the fridge early if they need to be warm, or leave them in fridge until the last minute if they need to be cold. If I forget, and need room temperature butter but have only just take it out of the fridge, then the microwave is a good alternative. Run eggs under water until they warm up a bit if you need room temp ones.
  • Really know your oven. Oven temperatures can vary widely, and I never take the recommended baking times in recipes at face value, but compensate in accordance with how I think my oven will behave.
a recipe handed down from my mom

2 cups finely ground oatmeal (About 3 cups whole oatmeal. I use a food processor.)
1 cup unbleached white flour or whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unsalted butter, very soft or mostly melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup boiling water

In a mixer or by hand mix butter and brown sugar until blended. Add dry ingredients and mix, adding the boiling water at the end to bind it all together. You should have a stiff dough. Shape dough into a log and slice into inch strips. Place strips two inches apart on a cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes at 400 degrees F until lightly browned. Let dry on a rack for a couple of hours. These should be crunchy on the on the outside, chewy inside. 

You really can't go wrong with this recipe - it doesn't matter what size the strips always turns out!

Creative Commons photo of oatmeal posted to Flickr by S. Diddy

Call Lelah at 818.269.6671
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