Be a Better Baker

If you bake a lot, if your friends and family are inundated with cookies, cakes, pies and bread, you’re probably a pretty good baker. You might be an outstanding baker. You might already do all the things I’m going to mention here. That is awesome!

Being a better baker, besides just a nice alliteration, can happen with practice and consistency. Everyone who’s good at something got there by doing that something a lot! Along with practice, there are a few other items to think about.

  1. Know what kind of flour(s) you’re using.
  2. Scale ingredients: weight is always more accurate than volume cups.
  3. Know how your oven really performs: are the temps true?
  4. If a recipe gives a time range for baking, always bake to the minimum time, then add more if needed.
  5. If a recipe doesn’t give a range of time, create one!
  6. Rotate your sheet pans half-way through a bake.
  7. Always err on the side of under-baking unless you’re making something getting lift from beaten eggs.
  8. Always stick to a recipe the first time through then make it your own.
  9. Keep cold butter cold and room-temperature butter soft but not melty/greasy.
  10. Give yourself room to grow. You won’t have Tartine bread or Deep Sea Sugar cake the first time out!

Julia Child said to never apologize for something you serve your guests. Own what you make. You’ve given an item your particular spin, and you’re free to change that item any time you choose. Recipients don’t need to know the dish or baked good didn’t come close to your goals! That being said, there have been plenty of personal fails that fed my chickens or the compost over the years.

Aside from this list + practice, never stop learning. There is always more to know, another technique, another flour, another recipe to try. Find sources that connect with you, be they websites, books, conferences, classes or people who will simply answer your questions. Finally, perhaps, pay attention. Are you consistent with technique? Is the butter warmer than last time? Is your starter super happy? Keeping a baking journal can help answer these questions. If you’re like me, you won’t remember!

Deep satisfaction comes with doing something well. Be and bake well, Friends!

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