Although some bakers seem like they were born with a whisk in hand while frosting picture perfect cookies and blithely spinning mirror-glazed cakes, baking can be a daunting skillset to learn. The home cooks on this season of Baking It have to dazzle not only returning host Maya Rudolph and newcomer Amy Poehler, but also a dauntingly named Panel of Opinionated Grannies. Even if you can’t tell a macaron from a madeleine, here are a few things you can do to help your own baked creations from falling flat, while watching these contestants work through their worst fears and highest hopes.
Watch Baking It, Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada. Also available on the Global TV App and STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, fuboTV, Rogers Ignite TV and Ignite SmartStream.
Master a few basics first
With so many recipes out there, it’s tempting to bounce from one to another. Getting a good grounding in a few basics first, however, will set you up for success (knowing how a pie crust feels against your fingers, for example, is a lesson not easily learned through YouTube).
Pro tip: Take a page from the show’s vintage recipe challenge and raid your family or friend’s favourite recipe books. Build a stockpile of tried and true recipes that you can adapt as you gain more experience.
Want a skill to master first? Learn how to melt and temper chocolate.
Even if you’re not weighing your ingredients, which some experts indicate is a more precise form of measurement, there are certain ways to ensure consistency in your baking. If you’re doubling the recipe, do the math ahead of time and write it down rather than trying to do it in your head as you go. Starting again because you’ve just accidentally quadrupled the amount of salt in your cookie batter is no fun at all.
Pro tip: Spoon dry ingredients into measuring cups instead of scooping and sweeping to avoid packing too much in, and view liquid ingredients at eye level on a flat surface.
Don’t worry about judgement
The contestants may have to impress the assorted grandmas on the first attempt, but remember that you’re baking for your loved ones and yourself, and that taste is what matters. If it takes until the third try at that pie before it’s Instagram-worthy, no-one will know but you.
Pro tip: Have a lumpy cake or a less than pristine pie? Frosting, fondant, whipped cream or cutouts from leftover pie dough scraps can hide any manner of baking sins.
Sometimes, mistakes happen
Although you hopefully won’t end up having to recreate an exploded cake, mistakes do happen — accidentally swapping baking soda for baking powder in the heat of the moment can lead to a curiously leaden banana bread, for example. Sometimes the results are salvageable (that extra dense banana bread can be pan-fried with butter and served with ice cream or layered in a trifle, for example), and sometimes it’s best to know when to consign your failure to the garbage and try again.
Pro tip: Reading the recipe carefully and gathering all your ingredients ahead of time can help head these disasters off at the pass.
Don’t battle the clock
On Baking It, the contestants are up against the clock, but you don’t have to be — the last thing you want when guests arrive is to still be trying to clean up spilled flour or fight for oven space. Buffer in time for your baked creations by making them the day before the big event, or even getting some baking out of the way a month before and freezing your efforts.
Pro tip: When making a family favourite, double the dough and put one in the freezer to bake off later. You’ll later be able to fill the house with the smell of freshly baked cookies with hardly any effort.
Check out these need to know tips for freezing cookies and bars.