Tips for Baking: Cookies, Cakes, Breads, and More


 Cookies

  1. The tendency is to over-bake cookies. Take them out just before you think they are done and you won’t be wrong often.
  2. Make cookies uniform in size. Not only are they more attractive but different sizes of cookies take different times to bake.
  3. Put the same number of cookies on a sheet each time.
  4. The more cookies on a sheet, the longer it takes to bake them. It seems that the last sheet of the batch has six cookies instead of twelve. If so, reduce your baking time by at least a minute.
  5. Don’t let your cookie dough get warm while you’re waiting for the earlier batches to bake. The butter should be a solid, not melted.  Put your mixing bowl in the refrigerator while you’re waiting.
  6. Unless the recipe tells you otherwise, remove the cookies from the baking sheet as quickly as we can.
  7. Most cookies should be gold in color, not brown. Put the first cookie on a cooling rack, lift the rack and peak at the underside of the cookie. If it’s brown, it’s cooked too long.
  8. It’s hard to tell if chocolate cookies are done. Bake a few cookies and check them for doneness before baking the entire batch. Chocolate cookies will tend to lose their “wet” look when done.
  9. Many bar cookies will have a dry, shiny crust when done.

Cakes

  1. For most baked goods–but especially cakes–it is best to set the timer for a few minutes less than directed in the recipe—different ovens or even different positions in the oven bake differently. When you find your cake not quite done and want to continue baking, set the timer for three or four minutes and check again.
  2. Cakes A dark pan bakes more quickly than a light pan.
  3. A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake will come out clean when done. “Clean” means a few crumbs. If there is wet looking batter clinging to the toothpick, it’s not done.
  4. If you don’t want to poke a hole in the center of the cake, check for doneness with your finger. There should be some resistance to the touch and the cake should spring back. When done, the cake will tend to pull away from the edges.

Breads

  1. Use a thermometer to tell when your bread is done. The center of the bread must be at least 190 degrees.
  2. If the bread is browning too rapidly, make a tent of aluminum foil and cover the top of the loaf.

Quick Breads

  1. Quick breads. The same tests that you use on cakes can be used with quick breads. Stick the toothpick or skewer right in an open crack in the center of the bread. The area under that crack seems to be the last area in the loaf to set up.
  2. Quick breads. Quick breads release from the pan easier if left to cool for few minutes before removing.
  3. Quick breads. Once the loaves have cooled, wrap them and store them in refrigerator. Quick breads are less crumbly usually best the second day. 

Custard (Pumpkin) Pies

  1. Custard pies. In custard pies, it takes quite a while for the eggs to set and make the pie firm. Often, the crust is becoming too brown. Use pie shield or cover the crust with strips of aluminum foil.
  2. Custard pies. When a custard pie is done, a knife inserted in the center of the pie will come out clean.
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