Helllo bakers! Are you ready to master your baking skills down? Here are 5 beginner skills in the pastry kitchen all bakers should know how to…..make.
Remember, professional baking is a very technique based skill set.
Technique = the way something is done. Technical skill = a body of technical methods. Method = approach
Simply, it will probably take you a few tries before you master it. Think, like riding a bike. You may make a few mistakes, but you will learn from each try.
Here Are the Top 5 Baking Skills to Master:
- Combining flour + fat: A pastry basic when it comes to making pie crust, biscuits, and scones
- When you are doing this, you are coating the gluten strands, in the flour, with fat (butter, shortening, etc).
- All fat is nicknamed shortening because fat ‘shortens’ gluten strands.
- Fat-rich baked goods are tender and soft because of the high amount of fat ingredients (butter and egg yolks are the most popular). Think: cinnamon rolls, brioche bread, and biscuits
- Low fat-rich baked goods are lean and chewy because the gluten strands are long and developed. Think: French baguettes and ciabatta bread
- Remember, your fat needs to be cold when being cut into dry ingredients
- Make my all butter pie crust while working your skills
- Creaming butter + sugar: A basic when it comes to making simple cookies and cakes
- When you are doing this, you are making a homogenized mixture. Plus, adding air for shape and volume.
- The key is ensuring you are creaming the two long enough (8-12 minutes with a paddle attachment) so the sugar gets properly mixed into the butter.
- Didn’t cream long enough? Good chance your goodie will come out mis-shaped.
- Try and make my thick and chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe
- Folding in flour: A basic skill for making chiffon and sponge based cakes
- Both cakes require folding in dry ingredients into whipped egg yolk-based
- Do it in stages: 3 x is a good number to shoot for. Divide the dry ingredients into 3 portions and fold it in with a rubber spatula.
- Kinda make a ‘D’ with the dry ingredients as you turn the bowl. Get to the bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour gets mixed in
- Tempering: A basic skill when making pastry creams and custards
- Tempering is when you (slowly!!) add warm milk to eggs and egg yolks. Then, cook the mixture on the stovetop over medium-low heat.
- Eggs = thickener.
- If you add too fast, it will curdle the eggs and make a sweet scrambled egg dish. Do it slowly while whisking vigorously with a balloon whisk.
- After cooking, strain through a mesh screen to remove any little curdled bits of egg.
- Cooking sugar: A more advanced skill. Sugar melts at around 320 degrees F
- When heat is applied to white sugar, it becomes liquid. The longer it cooks, the darker in color appears. This step is the first of many meringues, sauces, and caramel recipes
- Avoid crystallization. Crystallization = the step after all the water has been evaporated.
- Take a heat safe pastry brush and brush down the sides of the saucepan with water, when the sugar is cooking. Another tip is to add a small amount (think, 1-2 tbsp) of light corn syrup.
- Crystallization looks like white rock candy on the sides. If this happens, well…it’s best to start over.
Keep on baking! Baking and cooking is a lifelong journey to be enjoyed!