Maybe you’ve gotten confident with your cooking and you need a new challenge. You want to make muffins and cookies and cakes. But maybe you’re also making a lot of common baking mistakes and your products don’t turn out like you expected. Here’s where to check for flaws in the process.
Baking is truly the next step in your challenge to cook as much at home as possible. It’s a complex process, it relies so much more on being disciplined and following a pretty much fixed set of instructions. Common baking mistakes occur mostly when you’re deviating from the recipe in front of you. And that happens because the chemistry that baking relies on needs to be precise.
So get yourself some measuring cups and the right tools. And remember that talent for baking can only get you so far. Practice makes perfect and skills need to be exercised frequently. After a while, you’ll see that everything will turn out OK.
5 common baking mistakes to look out for
1. You’re too creative with your recipe
You think that something might be a perfect substitute for one of the ingredients in the recipe and you try it and it doesn’t work. It’s not the recipe’s fault! Just remember that whatever is on the list, in that particular quantity, is there for a reason. Baking is scientific. If you want to find out which baking substitutes work, you can find out right here.
If the recipe has an ingredient that you’re intolerant to, then just don’t make it. If you want to use something instead of dairy, find another recipe, one that already has the substitution you want (ahem) baked in. Sorry for the pun, it’s tough to refrain from them and this might be one of my most common baking mistakes.
2. You’re being too lax with measuring the ingredients
Never measure with your eyes. If you’re baking something, then invest in some measuring cups and spoon. And a tiny kitchen scale. It’s really important to get the proportions right. They are there for a reason.
3. You’re opening the oven door
Yeah, it’s all very exciting to see how your cookies, banana bread, and any other things you might be making change and grow. I love watching time lapses. It’s extremely satisfying to see the chemical reactions at work. But opening the oven door, unless the recipe calls for it, doesn’t do any good. It’s actually bad for your baking because it lets the heat out. So try to be a bit more careful with that.
If your cake collapses in the middle, it’s probably happening because you did open the oven door. Either that or your oven has some temperature calibration issues.
4. You’re overmixing the dough
I wish someone had told me this way sooner. The glutens in flour can be overworked when you’re making a dough or batter. That means that for whatever you’re making you have to be careful and measured. With overworked glutens, your baked goods will end up hard and lose the fluffiness and airiness that you’re looking for. Or your pies and bread might end up crumbly in the crust, which is something that nobody wants to see on their plate.
5. Your leavening is your problem
Sometimes you might use too little leavening for what you need. But that can’t have happened, since we’ve learned from mistake number 1, yes? Then the issue might be that the baking soda or baking powder you use is just too old. Both of these leavening agents tend to lose some of their power as time goes by. Usually, they’re only good for the first six months or so since you’ve bought them. Check the expiration date and get fresh leavening, if you have to.
Find out more about leavening agents and the difference between baking soda and baking powder.