Amid the pandemic, people across the world are told to stay at home to stay safe. Some have turned to video games to relieve their boredom while others have started gardening. One of the most popular hobbies over the past months is baking. If you’ve spent even just a few minutes on social media recently, you’ll notice the influx of baking photos. People are making more banana bread, focaccia, and cookies than ever. But you’ll only see the good results on the internet. It’s easy to mess up baking. A little too much time in the over or using too little flour can end up in disaster.
Here’s how you can use your kitchen to help you bake better:
You’ll Knead Countertop Space
No matter what type of pastry you want to make, space is essential in baking. You’re going to need enough room for all your ingredients, tools, and equipment. Even if you choose a no-knead recipe, you’ll need space where you can let the dough rise for hours.
One way to do that is to install a wooden kitchen island. You could buy a quality lumber countertop from a Barnwood store. Wood is great for preparing food because of its sanitizing properties. If you look up pastry boards on online stores, you’ll notice that they’re mostly made of wood. They’re ideal for baking because it’s easy to coat them with flour so the dough won’t stick. They’re also better to work with when it comes to regulating the temperature. Unlike wooden surfaces, granite and marble feel cold which can affect how the dough bakes.
Baking can be messy. It involves taking out different measuring spoons and cups just to make a single loaf. You’ll also need different bowls to create a good dough. It’s best to leave an island clutter-free so you can work better and faster.
Get Storage Compartments
One constant thing about baking is that it involves various ingredients. Even simple cookie recipes require different types of sugar, fats, and toppings. Getting your ingredients from the pantry or the other side of the kitchen can double your prep time. To cook and bake more efficiently, you can install a floating shelf. If you want to save money, you can assemble and mount it yourself. It doesn’t take a lot of time to install and you don’t need to be an expert to do it right. Even beginners can hang a floating shelf. Your ingredients are just within arm’s reach and you’ll free up countertop space.
A good alternative is a rolling cart. It’s ideal if you don’t have a lot of wall space or if you’re just renting your home. You’ll instantly have space for your tools and ingredients without the commitment. Since it’s mobile, you can also move it around as you bake.
Measure By Weight, Not Volume
If you’ve ever watched baking and cooking shows, you might have noticed a subtle but important difference. Most of the time, professional chefs eyeball their ingredients. They’ll say that they’re adding a teaspoon of olive oil. When in reality, it looks closer to a few tablespoons. Yet, the end result still looks delicious. On the other hand, all bakers use measuring tools. Whether they’re making a simple batch of cookies or a complicated angel food cake, they use cups or scales. It’s because measurement is one of the most important steps in baking. If you don’t follow a recipe exactly, it will look and taste different. Too much butter and it’ll turn out flat. Too much flour and it’ll be too thick. If you want to recreate a pastry, you have to measure accurately. To do so, you should be measuring by weight, not volume.
The first thing you should do is to get a good food scale. It shows the exact measurement of an ingredient right down to the smallest milligram. It’s especially useful if you’re using a European recipe. They use measurements by weight so you don’t have to convert anything.
If you don’t have the budget for a kitchen scale, there’s still a way you can measure better. When measuring dry ingredients, don’t pack them into the cup. It will make it denser and lead to using more flour than the recipe requires. Instead, you should be spooning the ingredients into the cup before scraping them off.
While baking involves exact measurements, it doesn’t have to be complicated. As long as you follow the recipe and balance the acids and fats, you’ll get delicious bread and pastries.