basic baking tips

Basic Baking Tips

I am not a professional baker who has complete knowledge of all dos and don’ts of all basic baking tips for beginners, but present here what I have learnt over the years. The whole point of this post is to help all those who love to bake or want to learn baking at home to enjoy home baked goodies occasionally.

home baked cookies

Many of us have microwave with convection mode in our kitchen but we end up using it only for reheating food. Some of us got an OTG as a gift during marriage or marriage anniversary, but have no idea how to use it. Or probably tried to bake, and something went wrong, and OTG was packed and placed in the attic.

In this post of Basic Baking Tips, I have tried to include those simple tiny details where we get stuck in the beginning or during the preparation for baking bread, cake, cookies or pies.

There are already two posts in the blog based on basic baking tips related to breads and cookies. You can take a look at them also…

Basics of baking – Cookies (Tips and tricks on how to bake cookies)

Basics of baking – bread/buns/rolls (Wheat flour buns with pizza spices-2)

I have tried to include a few points right from the basics in this post. I hope this post would help you to celebrate birthdays or anniversaries of your dear ones with simple home baked cake.

home baked cake

  1.   Which kind of utensils are required for OTG and microwave for baking?

Baking in a microwave on convection mode is same as baking in an oven. So we can use metal tins. The most popular tins are aluminum ones. They are light weight and easy to maintain.

aluminum tins for baking are essential (basic baking tip)

Important point to remember:

Don’t get confused with using these metal tins if you are cooking on MICRO mode. Micro mode is “microwave cooking” and metal tins will create spark there.

Don’t use plastic cookware while baking in a microwave on convection mode or OTG.

But silicon moulds are allowed for baking in OTG and in a microwave on convection mode.

There are a few specific recipes that can be followed to bake cake on Micro mode in a microwave. These recipes are helpful for those who don’t have ‘convection mode’ in their microwave. If following these recipes, use microwave-safe glass or plastic vessels.

2.    I don’t have a microwave or oven? Can I bake on kitchen stove of gas top? 

Yes, you can bake on kitchen stove. Take one heavy bottomed vessel (circumference should be bigger than your baking tin). Pour some sand or salt at the bottom of the vessel (so that bottom wouldn’t get burnt due to high heat), cover it and keep it for preheating on full heat for 5 minutes. Now keep a stand inside at the bottom and on this stand keep the ready baking tin with cake batter or a plate of cookies in it. Reduce the heat to medium and cover the lid of the vessel.

how to bake on gas stove (basic baking tip)

how to bake on a gas stove

In case you are using cooker vessel to bake as it has heavy bottom, don’t use pressure while closing the lid. After 15 minutes, open the lid to check. Cake might have risen by now – close the lid again to get it completely baked until you see the edges are becoming slightly brown and cake is leaving the edges of the tin. Insert a toothpick or knife – if it comes out clean, cake is ready!!

Don’t bake in an empty vessel without adding salt or sand. The bottom will be burnt due to heat and the vessel metal might expand because of high flame.

Be quick to cover the lid while checking the cake after 15 minutes, else cake might sink due to the temperature change.

In one attempt you might not be able to get perfect cake. Don’t worry, it is just a matter of understanding when is the right time to shuffle the heat between high and medium.

3. How to check if cake is baked completely?

You set the timing as 30 minutes to bake a cake. Let the tin cool down once you take it out from the oven. You might find that cake has not baked properly once you slice it, leading to disappointment.

Once baking time is over, insert a toothpick or clean dry knife in the middle of the cake. If some wet batter gets stuck at your knife or toothpick, it indicates that cake is raw and needs more baking time. If toothpick or knife comes out clean, cake is ready!

If you feel that more baking will result in forming a thick dry crust on the top of the cake, just cover the top with aluminum foil and continue baking.

cover the cake with aluminum foil to avoid forming thick crust (basic baking tip)

4.  What is the correct method to measure ingredients?

There are two methods to measure ingredients.

Use weighing scale or measuring cups and spoons.

Using weighing scale gives you perfect measurements. There are different kinds in the market. Buy whichever your budget allows. Don’t invest in a very expensive one if you are just an occasional hobby baker.

Measuring wet ingredients on a weighing scale always give accurate result.

measuring scale

Measuring through cups and spoons is very popular, though it needs some points to keep in mind.

measuring cups and spoons

While measuring flour, granulated or powdered sugar, pour flour in cup directly from the bag or use a spoon or small bowl.

Don’t press the flour from your fingers if cup is overfilled.

basic baking tip

Take one clean dry knife and remove that extra flour or sugar. Do the same for baking powder or baking soda.

basic baking tip

5. Why did my cake sink?

There could be many reasons…

Recipe is not correct. You are not measuring ingredients properly. You didn’t check the expiry date and a few ingredients are expired. All ingredients were not on room temperature. Overmixing the batter could be the reason. Too much leavening agents can result in puffing up in the beginning and later sinking the cake.

But the most common reason is that we keep opening the door of our oven/ microwave out of curiosity to peep in to check how is it getting baked. Inside the oven there is a set temperature on which our cake is getting baked for a set period of time. But when we keep opening the door, this temperature gets disturbed and automatically this variation results in a sinking cake.

The most common rule is that don’t open oven door for the first 15 minutes, at least. In this period cake is rising in a set temperature. So don’t disturb that at all. Later, when rising is over, cake starts getting cooked and now structure is becoming strong. So my personal suggestion is to control your or your kid’s excitement for 20 minutes to be safe. But then later, just peep in and instantly close the door. Don’t let the outside cool air disturb the inside temperature.

  1. How to prepare cake/bread tin ?

Always oil grease and flour dust your cake tins. For bread and cookies only oiling is enough. Whenever you are starting preparation for baking a cake, first grease your cake with oil/ butter, followed by dusting it with flour. After dusting, tap the pan and remove the excess flour. At the bottom of the pan you can use parchment paper also. It is very helpful in not letting cakes/ cookies/ breads stick at the bottom of the pan.

use parchment paper at the bottom of baking tin (basic baking tip)

7.When should I de-mould the cake/bread/cookies?

Don’t try to de-mould the cake/ cookies/ breads the moment you take them out of the oven/ microwave. Baked goods are very hot and soft once baking is over. After taking them out of the oven, keep the baking tin/ tray on a wired rack. Air circulation from all sides will help them cool down evenly. When you are able to hold the tin comfortably, run a knife around the edges of bread/ cake tin and de-mould carefully.

let the cake cool down n a wired rack(basic baking tip)

For cookies, wait till they cool down, otherwise they will break. During the process of cooling down, cookies become hard.

while cooling cookies turn crisp(basic baking tip)

But at the same time don’t let the cake or bread stay in the tin for too long. Heat in the tin will create condensation and cake or bread will turn soggy from the bottom of the tin .

8. Settings of oven

Different types of ovens have different settings. So it is very important to know about the settings of your microwave or oven. If you are baking a cake in a small oven, temperature would be less compared to, if the same cake is baked in a bigger oven. A few frequent bakes will give you an idea how your oven works best for different recipes.

9. Is oven thermometer necessary?

If you are really interested in baking, buy one oven thermometer. Trust me, it is very useful. Sometimes after setting the oven at 160 degrees, when we open the door to keep the tin, the heat of the oven seems to be much more than 160. The display board of oven/microwave is showing 160 degrees but you can feel that it is somewhere near 180 or 200. Now here we can keep the oven thermometer inside the oven while setting the temperature and you will know whether the display board and thermometer reading are in a sync or not. If not, then its time to call the technician before burning or getting half baked stuff.

oven thermometer

keep thermometer at the bottom of the oven

  1. Why manual book is important?

 Never ever throw away Manual Book  you get when you buy oven or microwave. As I have mentioned above that different types of ovens/ microwaves have their own  settings. You might feel confident after the demo by a technician from the manufacturer, but you will need the book when you start using the equipment independently. So, always keep it along with your warranty card or in the shelf of your recipe books so that it can be easily found. 

Well, I guess I have covered a lot of basic small doubts in this post. But if  you still think some more should be included, please let me know. I will try to include them also here.

Hope you will find this post on Basic Baking Tips useful. Would love to hear from you all. Will soon try to come up with the next post and we will talk about some basic details related to different types of popular frostings in India.