Tipsy on Tuesday

Tipsy on Tuesday is a weekly recurring post that features tips that might just make your life a little easier.

Today's Tips
Here are a few baking tips that I wish I had learned a long time ago!

  1. Not all cups of flour are created equal.  Weighing flour is always the best way to get an accurate measurement.  I have a small scale in my kitchen and its uses are endless.  Besides being a great way to handle portion control, it has made my baking recipes much easier to follow accurately.  Go here to the King Arthur Flour website for a great weight chart for many common products.  According to their chart, 1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour should weigh about 4.25 ounces.  If you do not have a kitchen scale there are a few other ways to get a better measurement. The spoon method and the scoop and sweep method can be found at howtobaker.com
  2. Combine the dry ingredients of a recipe separately and make sure they get thoroughly combined with a whisk or a fork. We don't need the baking soda or salt sitting in one big clump of our batter. Getting the dry ingredients mixed properly before adding the liquids is also very important when making cakes or pastries because once you add the liquids, gluten begins to develop.  The more you stir, the tougher and more dense your baked goods will become. Gluten development is great for bread, but not so great for muffins, waffles and cakes. I owe you a much longer and better explanation of gluten development, but that is probably an entire blog post in itself.  For now it is important to know that we want to limit gluten development for recipes that require a tender crumb.
  3. Use real vanilla extract!  It makes all the difference in the flavor and smell of your baked goods.  Imitation vanilla is a chemical concoction that although much cheaper, is a very inferior product.  Did you know that imitation vanilla is largely created from the byproduct of pulp and paper companies?  Real vanilla has no substitute.  Spend the extra for the real thing and you will not regret it.

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