Top Ten Ways to Get Yourself Baking More at Home

Everyone loves home-baked sweets and savories, but most of us don’t take the time to make them very often. Here are some suggestions to help make it happen:

  1. Have all your ingredients as accessible as possible. Store all-purpose flour in a large bin with 1 c. and 1/2 c. measuring cups right in it, so you don’t have to find them and wash them. Do the same for other bulk items that you use frequently such as white and brown sugar. Whole grain flours should go in the freezer if you don’t go through them quickly, but you can still have them in quick-access containers.
  2. Also, have a tray in your cabinet with the baking soda, baking powder, salt, honey, molasses and other accessory items all gathered in one place. When you have everything ready like this, you are always only 15 minutes from putting cookies, muffins, scones, quick breads etc. in the oven!
  3. Have at least two sets of measuring cups and spoons, so that if you need the same size twice for one recipe and it is already goopy with syrup, you don’t have to stop and wash it.
  4. Bake with kids! Whether it is your own little ones, nieces and nephews, or whoever, they all love to help out in the kitchen. Baking is one of the easiest ways, because it doesn’t usually involve knives or hot saute pans, and you can set all of the ingredients out on the floor. They will be proud of what you made together, and you’ll be proud to give them something wholesome for a meal or a treat.
  5. Buy the tools that will inspire you. I’m not saying you need every gadget out there, but having good cake, pie and tart pans, muffin tins, cookie and jelly roll sheets, ceramic pans, ramekins, silpats, rolling pins, etc. makes life a lot easier, and the results look better too.
  6. Treat yourself to books that will inspire you as well. My current favorite is Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s Home Baking.
  7. Don’t be a perfectionist. Not everything that comes out of your oven is going to look like something from a 3-star pastry chef. So what? It is delicious and you put love into it. In a world where so many things are mass produced, making something for your friends and family to enjoy is all that matters.
  8. Bake (most) things until they are really brown! The best flavors in baked food comes from the Maillard reactions and caramelization that take place in the last few minutes of cooking. Don’t burn everything, but do let it go that last couple minutes to deep brown. You’ll be amazed at how good it tastes.
  9. Let seasonal fruit and vegetables inspire you. Summer of course is the time for berry pies, tarts, crumbles and slumps. Fall might find you with a surfeit of apples, and in winter, savory cheese and vegetables appeal. Like all cooking, starting with the best ingredients is the key.
  10. Make extra dough and freeze it. If you are making a pie crust, a crumble top, or cookies, why not double the batch and put half in the freezer? Label that zip-loc bag so you’ll remember what you’ve got and how old it is.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Sunday, August 5th, 2007 in Baking.

One Response to “Top Ten Ways to Get Yourself Baking More at Home”

  1. Reply
    August 29, 2007 at 5:03 am #

    I can’t agree more with accessibility. Part of my baking is that i have flour and sugar in those big, open bins!

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