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5 Inspiring Tips For Fall Baking

Fall baking

Ah, yes. Fall is in the air. And, as the nights turn cooler, we bakers start to think about all the ways we can put to use the delectable fruits and spices that define the season. And no, we are not talking about the ubiquitous pumpkin spice that has found its way into everything from donuts to lattes.

If you're looking for a little inspiration for your next autumn gathering, or just want to make the most of this delicious season, here are 5 simple tips for fall baking to get you started:

1. Get prepared.

An organized kitchen is a happy kitchen. So start your fall baking with some sorting and gathering. Not to be confused with hunting and gathering, which you don't want to be doing when it comes time to begin. First, look at your inventory of ingredients, tools and equipment. Anything expired (leaveners, flour, spices) should be discarded, and multiples of anything should be pared down to just the essentials. Store away items you know you won't use. That angel food pan, for instance, or your fifth mixing bowl of that size.

Make your recipe selections in advance and get all necessary ingredients beforehand. And do yourself a favor: tailor the recipes to your skill level. If you are a novice baker, avoid the temptation to try complicated and/or time-consuming desserts in an attempt to impress your guests. There are so many simple yet fabulous recipes out there! On the flip side. if you're confident in your skills, fall is the ideal time to seek out new baking challenges.

2. Step outside the box.

When choosing fruits and spices for your fall baking projects, it's easy to fall back (no pun intended) on the old standbys. Apples are always a winner, and cinnamon always works. But, there are so many other wonderful options! Cranberries, pomegranates, pears, dates, plums, key limes and pumpkin are just a few fall fruits that make awesome additions to tarts, pies, cookies and cobblers.

Want to take the flavor up a notch? Mace, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves, star anise, coriander, cardamom, fennel, five-spice and peppercorns add deep and often unexpected notes to your fall recipes. Substitute them for cinnamon, or cut back on the cinnamon and add equal amounts of these complimentary spices.

3. Swap in vegetables.

There is no rule that says you can't add vegetables to your recipes. No, really, there's not. Just think "sweet". Winter squashes, sweet potato, sweet corn and beets make excellent additions to many recipes, and a few tablespoons can even be added with no other alterations. Purees from these seasonal vegetables add moistness to any baked good, and they make a great substitute for oil or butter when you're looking to up the nutritional value and reduce fat and calories.

4. Skip the piecrust.

Do you have a love-hate relationship with pie crust? No worries! Fall baking is perfect for those intimidated by the very thought of having to make a crust work. Give yourself a break from traditional pie crust by making fruit crisps and crumbles. You get all of that juicy goodness without the hassle. Or, use an alternative to flour-based crust, such as nuts, or make a low-fat graham cracker crust.

5. Experiment with gluten-free.

Why? Well, if you don't know anyone who has gone gluten-free, you soon will. And that person will be at your next gathering. Not only that, fall baking lends itself to the kinds of comforting desserts that do well with gluten-free ingredients, particularly if you are embracing tip #3, Gluten-free flour blends now substitute one-for one with traditional wheat flour, which makes it easy to adapt your favorite recipes. If you don't know where to begin, here are some creative gluten-free recipes that are sure to inspire you.

Autumn and baking go hand in hand! Use this colorful and fragrant season to inspire you in the kitchen, and you just might amaze yourself with what you can accomplish. Happy Baking!

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