It always feels like the end of the world when something goes horribly wrong when you bake right? Or is that just me…. So I thought I should fess up some of my biggest baking mistakes in the hopes that you might never experience the same disasters 😉
– Leaving things in the oven too long
This is a classic baking mistake. Pretty much everyone has done at least one or both of these things at some point whilst baking. While it isn’t a complete loss if some cakes or muffins are slightly underdone, you would definitely need to be more careful with pastries, cheesecakes, and anything like soufflés.
I’ve definitely had a few underdone cakes. It’s especially difficult to tell if the cake has a higher moisture content or a lot of liquid in the batter, but if I’m unsure I’ll leave it in for an extra 5 minutes at a time checking regularly and adding on more minutes if necessary. I always use a metal skewer and check that the surface of the cake is firm and springy.
– Taking things out the oven too soon
I’ve also made the mistake of leaving cookies or biscuits in too long so they end up becoming hard. Its best to take them out as the recipe states even when they seem a bit soft as they will naturally harden as they cool down but still remain chewy with good texture.
– Burning white chocolate
I’ve done this a couple of times, once on the stove stop and twice in the microwave! I was making a white chocolate buttercream and the recipe stated to melt the white chocolate in the microwave. I gave myself false confidence thinking I wouldn’t burn it again a third time surely. But lo and behold it happened. However I was thankful I actually put in a few extra pieces of white chocolate just in case and I discarded all the burnt pieces. Now to save the rest of the white chocolate for the buttercream, I actually added a little liquid and strained it getting rid of all the little burnt pieces and in the end I was left with a silky, smooth white chocolate mixture to use in the buttercream. A little milk or crème fraise works well for doing this.
Its always just worth putting in a few extra pieces anyway and if it all goes perfectly well and you end up with too much white chocolate- then that’s not too bad either!
– Melting buttercream
Speaking of buttercream icing, this is definitely a no, no! I’ve had times when I’ve made buttercream in advance having it chill in the fridge until I need it. Then when the time comes to use it I realise with horror how quick buttercream actually hardens and in my frenzied panic, I try to melt it hopeing it will soften again. This is totally the wrong thing to do since the butter actually splits from the icing and it becomes a completely irreversible mess. NEVER MELT YOUR BUTTERCREAM! Instead if its too hard all you can really do if you’re short of time is put it either in a warm place or where there is some sun to soften it gradually like you would butter, but still keep an eye on it as it becomes soft very quickly.
– Not sifting
When the recipe calls for you to sift your flour or icing sugar- always obey! It’s not great when you get a lumpy cake batter or even worse- grainy, lumpy icing… 🙁 It never goes down well with my mother. Many people probably miss this simple baking mistake.
Just to clarify this is more for when you are making cakes to impress or for an occasion. You want nice, smooth cakes to decorate and obviously a smooth icing but if you are just making some hearty, breakfast muffins, one needn’t worry too much about a lumpy batter.
– Not greasing and lining cake tins and trays well enough
It’s the worst thing when you bake something beautiful only for it to stick to the tin or pan and then have it practically fall apart as you try to rescue it. For most recipes you will always need to grease the pan or cake tin you intend to bake with and for most cakes that you decorate you will need to flour and line the tins with baking paper to get smooth tops so you can easily ice and decorate.
Things like biscuits and scones require baking trays to be greased and lined and its the same with tray bakes like brownies, or lemon bars etc. this also makes it easy to lift the bakes out once cooled.
– Getting things into the egg whites when making meringue
Its a real headache when you separate 5 or so egg whites into a bowl and mess up the last one or get a speck of something or other in the mix by accident. Eggs don’t grow on trees either so its a real bind starting all over again. The best way to avoid this I find is separating each egg into a smaller bowl first and one by one adding them into the mixing bowl to avoid the contamination of any egg yolk, and of course keeping the mixing bowl and beaters completely clean and separate from everything else. Being extra careful saves a lot of grief and potentially a lot of eggs!
I’ve experienced a lot of other fowls and mess ups on my baking journey but I thought these are probably the best to start with. What has been your biggest baking disaster/mistake?
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