I am the Co-Founder of eat G.A.N.G.S.T.E.R., which makes cookie, cake and bread mixes for those on restorative diets. The mixes are pretty amazing because they are grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free and more, and yet, despite not having any of the “normal” ingredients known to make baked goods, the results are still delicious!
I must share though, that prior to launching eat G.A.N.G.S.T.E.R., I had NEVER (not ever!) actually baked a cake. It's true. When I was a little girl, I remember helping my mom stir the batter for one of her Cream Cheese Poundcakes or rolling up cookie dough from her family-famous Chocolate Chip Cookies. But as an adult, I never, ever baked.
I learned about baking with Heather (our co-founder) as we spent time in the kitchen, testing out recipes, making tweaks, burning things, making adjustments, baking super flat cookies, making more tweaks, etc.
So, when it comes to learning the basics, I’m your girl – because I know all the things I didn’t know, that I needed to know, when it comes to baking. Here are my top 5 tips to setting yourself up for success when you’re learning to bake:
Familiarize the recipe.
1. Read the Recipe Completely Before Starting Anything. Just take that two to five minute to read the recipe before beginning. I can’t tell you how many baking fails I have had because I didn’t realize I needed to have something ready to pour in, or stirred quickly – and then the whole recipe got ruined. Just skim through it all and know what you need to be ready for throughout the process.
Have all your ingredients ready.
2. Prepare Your Ingredients. If a recipe calls for 6 TBSPs of melted coconut oil on Step 6, before you even begin, get that melted coconut oil ready. Have it melted and measured before you even begin mixing things together. By having everything ready to go, as the recipe calls for it, you’ll have lots more success. Baking is chemistry. For example, when we call for Apple Cider Vinegar in our mixes, you’ll note that it gets added AFTER everything else. This is so that the vinegar can activate with the batter properly, and best allows the cake to rise.
Precise measurements = Delicious results
3. Measure Properly. Use the proper measuring tools for dry versus wet ingredients. When measuring dry ingredients (say, a flour), do not scoop it out of the canister, because it could pack the flour into your cup and cause you to use way more flour than needed. Spoon it out, and level it off. For liquids, be sure to use clear liquid measuring cups for best results.
Temperature Accuracy helps.
4. Use an Oven Thermometer. Very simply, every oven varies in its temperature. If you use convection, it can vary even more (usually 25 degrees F warmer!). Farberware makes a nice hanging one that will ensure you get consistent results!
Give the oven some time.
5. Keep Your Oven Door Closed. Particularly when actually baking! I am soooo guilty of impatience and just wanting to see how things are coming along in the oven. When you are baking, you must keep the oven closed, so as to allow the oven to maintain its temperature. For example, our cakes and muffins need a certain heat to begin to rise, and if you open the oven and you lose heat, they may not rise properly. I have had several Dark Choconot Fudge disasters, where I ended up with little muffins with deep set ditches in the middle of them because of this. I mean, it was nothing a whole bunch of icing couldn’t fix, but still.