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Be a Better Cook

100 Ways to Be a Better Cook: Small Tweaks That’ll Make You an Expert Baker

It's an art and a science – improve on both with these tips.

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70. Use quality bakeware

“Good bakeware is just as important as the recipe,” Adams says. “Cheaper alternatives usually are uneven in thickness, layered in unsafe coatings or cause baked goods to stick.”

And don’t forget that your bakeware can change the way your recipes cook. Everything from the material to the finish to the color of your cake pans and pie plates can alter the finished goods.

71. Ditch the bags

“It’s not efficient to measure out of a bag,” Bench says. “Choose storage containers that hold at least one bag of your dry ingredients. You won’t be fighting the torn edges of bags or trying to fit a large measuring cup into a small opening.” Plus, as an added bonus, you’ll find it easier to locate your baking ingredients inside your pantry when they’re in storage containers (especially those that stack or have clear windows so you can see what’s inside).

72. Choose the right eggs

Medium eggs might not look all that different from large, but the ¼- to ½-ounce difference per egg can add up in baking and yield a different result. Stick to what the recipe says (most call for large).

73. Measure accurately

Use liquid measuring cups for liquids and dry measuring cups for dry ingredients. Trying to measure liquids in dry cup measures and vice versa is less accurate.

74. Bring ingredients to room temperature

“I understand the tendency to rush due to hectic schedules, but working with cold butter, cream cheese and other ingredients can create less-than-desirable results,” Adams says.

75. Streamline warming eggs

“If a recipe requires room-temperature eggs, put them in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes,” says Ivy Manning, author of the Better from Scratch cookbook.

76. Stick to the formula

“I recommend following baking recipes exactly as they are written using the exact ingredients and ratios listed, especially for newer bakers,” Adams says. “Even a slight change can alter texture or baking time – or give you an entirely different result. Once you get comfortable with a recipe, you can start to make slight variations.”

77. Keep track

“Place all the ingredients on the right side of the bowl,” Manning says. “As you add them to the bowl, put the ingredient container to the left of the bowl to keep track of what’s been added.”

78. Don’t overdo it

Overmixing batter will give you tough cakes, muffins and other baked goods. Mix just enough to incorporate the wet and dry ingredients.

79. Mind the over door

“Baking relies on consistent environments,” says Adams. “Opening the door causes the heat trapped inside the oven to escape.” This can cause items to stop rising or even collapse. “When you believe your baked good to be done, quickly perform the toothpick test or remove it completely.”

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