When I first started baking many years ago, I had my fair share of baking fails – dry, rubbery cakes, under cooked batter, overflowing cakes, and so on. Baking is a science, keep experimenting and don’t give up! Besides, remember that you’ll be rewarded with the heavenly smelling kitchen.
I am by no means a professional baker and I am continuously learning from my mistakes, but I’ll save you the trouble of having to dump your batter or dough in the bin.
Here are the 5 mistakes that I had:
1. Not using the correct measurement.
I was xx years old when I realized that 1 cup of flour is NOT EQUAL to 1 cup of butter. 1 cup of flour is not equal to 1 cup of sugar/cocoa/brown sugar/etc. Instant yeast measurement is not the same with activated dry yeast. And also, don’t confuse dry measure with liquid measure, they are NOT the same. If the recipe is using Imperial measurement, I always convert it to gr or ml. I always use my weighing scale instead of measuring cups for accuracy. Here’s a great site with a printable conversion chart so that you won’t make the same mistake I did: https://www.biggerbolderbaking.com/weight-conversion-chart/
2. Not bringing the ingredients to room temperature.
If a recipe calls for room temperature ingredients, there is a reason for it. For example, when melted butter is mixed with cold milk, the butter will solidify or when egg is added to hot liquid, it will curdle. Always bring your ingredients to room temperature.
3. Over-mixing the cake batter.
This might be the most common mistake new bakers make. I’ve always thought that the batter has to be smooth, without any lumps. I was so wrong. When you over-mix the batter, the gluten in the flour forms elastic gluten strands making your cake rubbery and tough. From now on, resist the temptation to keep mixing your batter!
4. Not having the correct oven temperature.
Always pre-heat your oven before baking. Not having the correct temperature can cause cakes to collapse or crack. And also, you have to know the type of oven you’re using (convection or fan-forced vs. conventional). The heat from a convection oven is blown by fans and the air circulates inside of the oven. The heat source in a conventional oven is stationary, usually radiating from a heating element at the bottom of the oven. Rules of thumb is when you’re using a convection oven, lower the temperature by 5°C.
5. Opening the oven door too early or too frequent.
Cold air will enter the oven if you open the door causing the cake to contract or even collapse, especially in delicate desserts like soufflés and choux pastry. Always stick to the time given on the recipe and do not open your oven door too early or too frequent.
Hope you can learn something from me and happy baking!