baking tips

A Piece of Cake: Baking Tips | Celebrity MCSA

Baking is undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges the kitchen presents, as evidenced by the massive two-day baking challenge the celebrities had to endure in the latest episode.

It is such a precise art that even the smallest deviation can send you packing as Lorna found out when she used the wrong flour, and Merwelene when she used coconut oil instead of butter.

To avoid the same mishaps here are a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to baking, and remember to keep your creativity for the decorations!

Read Your Recipe
Baking is an art, but a science as well, therefore it’s important that you go through your recipe thoroughly before and during the baking process. Make sure you have all the tools and ingredients, refer back to your recipe while working and never guestimate!

Mise en Place
Mise en place is a French phrase and professional kitchen term which means “putting in place”. It refers to measuring and setting out the ingredients you will need before you start preparing the food. Because precision and timing is of the essence in baking, preparing your mise en place will go a long way in making sure you get everything right.

Measuring Moments
Scoop flour into a measuring cup using a spoon and sweep off the excess with a knife. If you scoop the flour straight into the cup it will be compressed, giving you more than you need.

Weighty Matters
On that note, make sure you measure all your ingredients accurately. Deviating from the weight the recipe specifies can lead to changes in flavour and consistency. For better texture, add the effort and sift your dry ingredients.

Testing Temperature
Before you do anything, turn on your oven – most recipes will also remind you. The temperature must be just right, as you don’t want to under- or overcook, which means it’s important that you know your oven and how to use it. To calibrate it correctly, invest in an oven thermometer.

When it comes to baking a cake, place it in the middle and never slam the oven door, as this may release air bubbles in the batter. When it comes to your ingredients, it’s best to work with them at room temperature – you’ll have a tough time of it if you try to work with frozen butter.

Plan Your Pans
If you are placing more than one pan in the oven, make sure they are not touching or on top of each other. Ensure that you use the right pan for the recipe – stick to what it has specified. Changing the shape or size of your pan can alter temperature and baking time – large, shallow pans increase heat, while smaller, deeper pans decrease heat. Don’t skip greasing your pans or using parchment paper, if the recipe calls for it. This will also make cleaning up a piece of cake.

Once you’ve mastered the art and science of baking, you can get creative. The celebrities gave us a range of wonderful cakes – from Wonder Woman to Marie Antoinette – and you can bring your imagination to your cake as well. To give you some inspiration, watch this exclusive video on how to make a fondant rose:

Originally published on MasterChef South Africa.

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