Read these 80 Desserts and Baking Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Cooking tips and hundreds of other topics.
The type of pan you use when baking is important. The right pan can determine the outcome of your dish. If you are substituting pans or dishes, here are some guidelines to keep in mind: Glass pan substitutes: Turn down baking temperature by 25 degrees Shallow pan substitute: Reduce overall baking time by 1/4 Deeper pan substitute: Increase overall baking time by 1/4
Prepare everything before you begin the baking process. Read the recipe several times. Gather ingredients and necessary equipment, including pots, pans and oven racks. Cut, chop and slice all necessary ingredients. Take sanitary precautions, such as wiping down counter tops, washing dishes and hands, etc. Everything about the baking process is exact, so preparing as much as possible before you begin eliminates the potential for errors. Be sure to set the position of your oven rack before turning the oven on. It is easier to do it when the racks are cold.
Cream is a common ingredient in most dessert dishes. There are many ready-made creams available; however, it is best to make a fresh, homemade batch to add to your recipe. You can whip cream must faster if you first chill the cream itself as well as the bowl and beaters. You can also add a couple of drops of lemon juice to the mixture, which will also aid the cream in whipping faster and more consistently.
When a recipe calls for ground nuts, be careful not to overprocess them or the nuts' oils will be released, and you'll wind up with nut butter. Instead, for evenly ground (but not liquefied!) nuts, try using the following rule of thumb: Use no more than 2 cups of nuts at a time and process in 3-second intervals, checking the texture as you go, until the mixture is finely powdered. For particularly oily nuts like pecans or cashews, add a small amount of flour or bread crumbs to absorb excess oil.
Cake baking is a cooking pastime that occurs in almost every home in America. Here are some tips for baking the perfect cake every time: Always bake cakes on the center rack of your oven. This gives the cake a more even, consistent baking pattern. Always use the right pan size and preheat your oven. The wrong pan size can burn your cake or have it sticking to the sides of the pan. Properly measure all ingredients for the right taste and consistency. Grease cake pans with shortening and then lightly dust them with flour. However, do not grease pans when you are cooking sponge-type cakes.
When you cook cupcakes to be packed into a small container or a bag, you risk smearing the icing or having it come off all together. To avoid this, slice cupcakes slightly in the middle and fill them with frosting on the inside. This avoids messiness and allows cupcakes to retain the frosting. Cupcakes can also be stored this way in a freezer for up to two months. You can also store small batches of frosting with them as well.
The answer to the question concerning freezing homemade pumpkin pie isn't as easy to answer as it may seem. The pies can indeed be frozen but some people think that the taste is compromised when doing that. If you're freezing pumpkin pie, it's recommended that you remove it from the freezer within two months. Expect the consistency of a frozen pumpkin pie to change after being frozen, and it will also get "watery" when thawed. When it is time to defrost the pie, do it in the refrigerator. A better idea is to make and freeze your crust and then fill it with fresh filling and bake the day before serving if saving time is a priority.
When you bake a cake you are instructed to flour the cake pan so the cake won't stick. Instead of doing that save some of the dry cake mix and use that to flour the bottom of the pan. You won't have that white mess on the bottom of your cakes. There is top quality non stick bakeware available for best results.
Helpful cooking tip:
To test if Steamed Pudding is done, remove cover after minimum baking time. Check to see if pudding springs back when touched lightly; if it does not spring back, re-cover and continue to steam. If steamer boils dry, add boiling water. Its important to use good cookware for this task!
Always keep frozen fruit (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, or any combination) and pre-made pie crust on hand to whip up dessert should unexpected guests arrive. For a fabulous impromptu crostata, place a disk of pie dough onto a nonstick baking sheet and set aside. Then combine two cups of frozen fruit (no need to thaw) with three tablespoons of sugar and a tablespoon of melted butter. Spoon mixture onto center of reserved dough, leaving a 1 ½ - 2 inch border. Fold and pleat dough all the way around to enclose filling. You’re going for rustic appeal here, so don’t worry about what it looks like. Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven, or until crust is golden and filling is hot and bubbly. Serve warm with sweetened whipped cream or crème fraiche.
What if your recipe calls for melting chocolate along with water or some other type of liquid? That's fine, as long as the liquid is mixed with the chocolate from the beginning of the melting process, it won't get grainy on you. Be careful though, because adding even a drop in mid-melting will cause this problem. Also consider a top quality Double Boiler for this task.
Measuring out flour for baking is no easy task. The easiest process to follow is to level off the cup without packing down the flour. Use a butter knife to scrape off any surplus. To reduce the amount of flour wasted in cooking recipes, dust the flour from a powered duster onto whatever you are cooking, instead of dipping the food into the vat of flour. This is easier and more sanitary.
Useful cooking tips: Using a pastry brush, brush strawberries, grapes or other fruit with light corn syrup. Roll the fruit in granulated sugar to coat. Place the sugar-coated fruit on a wax paper lined cookie sheet and keep in refrigerator until ready to use. Use frosted fruit to garnish and decorate pies, cakes, cheesecakes and other desserts.
When using box cake mixes or ready made frosting, use this cooking tip to improve the flavor! Add one teaspoon of vanilla extract to the mix and the frosting. This enhances the flavor of any cake or frosting, and everyone will think you have spent all day baking from scratch. Use top quality bakeware for best results - you don't want all that hard baking work to go to waste.
Pie cooking tips:
To serve pie without messing up the first slice: Step 1: Cut the pie in half through the middle. Step 2: Cut one wedge along your first cut. Do NOT remove the first wedge. Step 3: Cut a second wedge. Remove the SECOND wedge. It will come out perfectly, as well as all the rest of the pieces you cut.
Frosting a cake can be one of the most difficult parts of baking a cake. If you are going to do it the traditional way, let the cake cool off for at least four hours, or preferably overnight. Slice off a thin layer, or if the cake is domed, then the top. Use a pastry brush to clean off loose crumbs. Take a spoon of icing and put it on a serving plate to keep the cake from sliding around. Gently use the brush to slather on icing, but not too thick.
Not all sugar measures out the same way. Measure granulated sugar by lightly putting it into a measuring cup. Then, use a straight edge to level off the top of the sugar. Sift confectioner's sugar both before and after measuring, lightly spoon it into a cup and level it off.
Baking tips: If you only have a few cookie sheets but are making a lot of cookies, tear off a few cookie-sheet-sized pieces of aluminum foil. While one batch is in the oven, you can scoop out your next batch of cookies onto the foil. Remove the batch from the oven, let the cookie sheet cool for a minute, and then transfer the foil with the cookies on it to the cookie sheet...you've got another batch ready for the oven. Use top quality bakeware for best results.
Having a flour dilemna? You can substitute cake flour for regular flour when you bake cookies, but your cookies will most likely spread out more than they would with regular flour. Cake or pastry flour is a fine-textured, soft-wheat flour with a high starch content. It makes particularly tender cakes and pastries. Also remember to use top quality bakeware for best results with any baking, be it cookies or cakes.
Baking advice: If you need to test your cake for doneness, use this great cooking tip! If you're out of toothpicks, just use an uncooked piece of spaghetti to test your cake. When a butter cake is done, it will shrink from the edges of the pan and be springy to the touch. Also remember to use top quality bakeware for best results.
Chocolate cooking tips: Alternatively, you can melt chocolate in a dry oven. Place grated chocolate in a metal bowl and place it in an oven set at 110° F (if your oven doesn't go that low, use the lowest temperature and keep the door ajar). Your chocolate will melt in about an hour. Also consider a top quality Double Boiler for this task.
Looking for helpful baking advice? Here are some hints to a perfect angel food cake! To slice an angel food cake well, use this useful cooking tip. Use a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion. If you press too hard on the knife, you will end up with a smashed slice. Also remember to use top quality bakeware for best results. You don't want your Angel Food Cake to burn or stick to your pan.
Delicious cooking tips: add a teaspoon of vanilla to whipped topping -- either the frozen-in-a-tub variety, or the boxed mix kind. If you're using the frozen in-a-tub kind, dump it into a mixing bowl, add the teaspoon of vanilla and whip it for a minute. Leave the topping in your own mixing bowl. Everyone will think it's fresh whipped cream. Just smile.
Here are a couple of cooking tips for making delicious homemade ice cream...
-Make the ice cream mix the day before it is frozen to get a smoother product.
-Use crushed ice instead of cubes for freezing.
-Freeze finished product at least 4 hours before serving.
-Liquid flavoring should be added before freezing, but solids (fruits & nuts) should be added after the initial freezing.
Cake cooking tips: Unfrosted cakes freeze better than frosted. Allow cakes to cool, place on cardboard, then cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Can be kept up to 5 months if wrapped properly. Don't freeze cakes with custard or fruit fillings as they tend to become soggy when thawed. Cakes using whipped cream filling or topping should be thawed in the refrigerator.
One of the most talked-about recipes from Cooks Illustrated and Cooks.com is their recipe for pie crust, in which half the added liquid is vodka. Most reviewers who have tried making this recipe report extraordinarily good results, with no trace of vodka taste left in the finished product.
The reason this works is that gluten develops when water is combined with dry flour, and gluten causes pastry to become tough and chewy. Using an alcoholic liquid like vodka, where the alcohol evaporates off in cooking, allows a moist, easily-workable dough to develop layers of un-moist, low-gluten flakiness while baking.
The originator of this recipe discusses his technique in a blog post at http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2011/07/the-food-lab-the-science-of-pie-how-to-make-pie-crust-easy-recipe.html, which is also the most spectacularly detailed and readable exposition of pie crust physics you're ever likely to encounter. The blog post also gives a link to the original Cooks Illustrated recipe, in case you're inclined to give it a try.
Treat yourself to a delicious sundae on Sunday. It's a great way to end the week. You can use this time to bond with your family. You can make your basic sundae or you can customize it to fit each person in your family's taste buds. Place two large scoops of ice cream in a bowl. Pour some crushed pineapples over the ice cream. Smother in hot fudge or butterscotch topping. Add a dollop of whipped cream and finish off with a cherry. Some other choices include: chopped nuts, chocolate syrup, banana slices, melted peanut butter, jimmies, sprinkles, crushed oreos, or bits of your favorite candy bar.
Take out a saucepan and add three quarters of a cup of water. Bring it to a boil and then remove it from the heat. Add half a cup of couscous and let it sit for 15 minutes. Now stick one tbsp. of butter in a frying pan and melt it on medium heat. Cut one banana in to thin slices and set in the frying pan. Add one tbsp. of light brown sugar and cook for one minute. In a large mixing bowl place two cups of whipped cream. Add one and a half cups of crushed pineapples. Pour the banana mixture and the couscous in to the whipped cream and pineapples. Stir them all together and then separate in to individual dessert glasses. Sprinkle coconut flakes on top. Cover the top of the glasses with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator until it is time for dessert.
McDonald's sells some delicious flurries. The next time you have a craving for ice cream, save yourself some money and make your own flurry. Take your favorite flavored ice cream and scoop it in to a blender. Blend well. Pour in to a large cup and then add two handfuls of M&M's. Swirl them in to the blended ice cream with a spoon. Do not use the blender or it will chop up the M&M's. If you prefer an Oreo flurry, you can crush eight Oreo cookies in a plastic bag by beating on it with a meat tenderizer. The fold it in to your ice cream with a spoon. You can make up your own flurry by adding your favorite candy. Serve with a spoon instead of a straw.
Place six ounces of plain yogurt in a large mixing bowl. Add one cup of sugar and three cups of flour. Mix together. Now add six oz. of vegetable oil, two tsp. of vanilla extract, two and a half tsp. of baking powder, and five eggs. Use a mixer to combine all of the ingredients. Pour in to a greased cake pan and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Wait for the cake to cool before moving on to the next step. Break five Hershey's chocolate bars in to bite sized pieces and stir over medium heat until fully melted. Pour over the cake. Place in the refrigerator so that the chocolate hardens.
In a large mixing bowl combine two cups of flour, half a cup of vegetable oil, and one cup of sugar. In a small bowl zest half of one lemon and half of one lime. Pour in the larger bowl. Beat two eggs in another small bowl and then add it to the larger bowl. Mix all of the ingredients together with your hands until they form a dough. Flour your workspace area and then remove the dough from the dough to the floured area. Knead the dough. Separate the dough in to small balls and place them on a greased cookie sheet. Use the back of a spoon to press the balls down slightly. Sprinkle some cinnamon on top of the dough balls and bake in the oven at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Take out a large bowl and add the following ingredients: one cup of sugar, two tbsp. of flour, two tbsp. of cocoa powder, and one dash of salt. Combine before adding one cup of skim milk and two egg yolks. Use a wire whisk to mix these ingredients together. Transfer them to a pot and cook under the medium setting. You can stop once your ingredients resemble chocolate pudding. While this mixture is still hot add one tbsp. of butter and one tsp. of vanilla. Mix and pour in to an already made pie crust. Take out a second bowl (or wash the first and reuse) and beat two egg whites with a wire whisk. Add a quarter of a tsp of cream of tartar sauce. Beat in half a cup of sugar until the mixture resembles meringue. Cover your pie with the meringue and set in the oven for five minutes to get the tips of the meringue to turn brown.