If you bake regularly, you’ve probably run into your fair share of dilemmas when whipping up your favorite cake or batch of cookies. Even if you follow directions and read recipes closely, you might find that you struggle in certain areas, no matter how hard you try. Thankfully, there are solutions to almost all of your baking problems, and having them at your fingertips will not only make the process less stressful and more enjoyable, but may even improve the quality of your finished products.
Here are seven quick fixes for common baking mistakes you’re probably making.
1. Soften Butter Without Melting It
Instead of sticking the butter in the microwave and accidentally melting it instead of softening it, try this trick from The One Pot Chef instead. Put your piece of butter on a plate, and then grab a glass and fill it up with hot water. Let it sit for about a minute so the glass becomes warm, and then dump out the water, quickly covering the butter with the warm glass. In about a minute, you’ll have perfectly soft butter.
2. Bake Flat Cakes For Layering
If you’re making a layered cake, nothing is more frustrating than a cake level that’s too round. Avoid this problem by using cake strips, which wrap around the pan to help make flat layers. You can buy them online or you can make your own using scrap material with this tutorial from The Pancake Princess.
3. Loosen Up Brown Sugar Without Hacking At It
It’s frustrating to pull the box of brown sugar out of your pantry, only to find that it has become rock solid. Instead of chipping away at the block, cover it with a wet paper towel and microwave it for 20 seconds to help soften it to the right texture.
4. Cut Brownies With Straight Edges
Cutting brownie squares seems like it would be the easiest part of baking, but often we end up with crumbly brownie bites with uneven edges. The key to pretty brownies: Use a plastic knife instead of a metal one. The brownie crumbs won’t cling to the edges and will leave your squares looking clean and appetizing.
5. Preserve Burnt Pastries Instead Of Tossing Them
Consuming burnt foods isn’t recommended, as they contain carcinogens that can have negative health effects. However, if your pastries are only slightly burnt, such as on the top, don’t toss them. Instead, shave off the burnt portions using a box grater.
6. Fill A Piping Bag Without The Mess
Filling a piping bag with frosting or batter can easily get messy, but skip all the trouble and fold it over a level pint glass instead. You’ll get more into the bag with less spillage.
7. Bake Cookies That Don’t Spread Too Thin
If your cookie dough loves to expand, but then your cookies fall flat, consider baking them in a muffin tin. They’ll stay perfectly shaped and won’t get too thin.