Fact Or Fiction: 5 Common Baking Myths Debunked
For those who don't bake, the whole thing may seem mysterious, even impossible. It's one of the reasons why bakery is purchased from stores rather than made at home, right? So the first and most obvious baking myth might be that it is difficult. We are not including this in our list. Anyone can bake, and it's only as difficult as you choose to make it.
The real myths about baking involve the process itself. For best results, it's a good idea to get rid of the fiction and stick with the facts. So, here are 5 common baking myths debunked, so you can become the amazing baker you want to be:
1. Preheating the oven is not necessary.
Ovens can take a long time to come up to temp. Whether you're baking delicate cookies or scones for only 10 minutes, or a cake for half an hour, your oven must be at the correct temp. before the batter/dough goes in. So always preheat. It's the only way to ensure that your product will bake properly--and for the time stated in the recipe.
2. Ingredients can be always substituted.
Sometimes they can, and sometimes they can't. Remember, baking is a science and comes with a relatively narrow margin of error. So if, for instance, you find that you don't have a necessary ingredient and want to substitute, the item subbed in needs to be of similar fat/sugar/liquid content, weight/volume and chemical composition. Honey, for example, can be substituted for sugar, but since it's a liquid (and behaves differently in recipes than sugar) you should cut the amount by about 1/3.
For a list of common approved substitutions, click here.
3. It's ok to open the oven door during baking.
"But I've done that and never had a problem!" No doubt. However, in general it's not a recommended practice. Some baked goods will tolerate a rapid change in temp. better than others. For example, while your cookies can handle a quick turn of the sheet to prevent overbrowning, your cakes will not be happy and will let you know by sinking. Leave your items alone at least until they are set. Better yet, open the door only to check for doneness during the last few minutes.
4. Flour never expires.
Not true! This may come as a surprise, as most expiration information out there focuses on leaveners. However, flours do have a shelf life and you should be aware of what it is. If there is no date on the bag, please look up flour expiration dates for guidance.
You can extend the life of your flour by storing it in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place and/or freezing it. Don't leave it at room temp (on the counter or in the pantry) in its original bag. It will eventually get infested with weevils and/or become rancid.
5. Weighing/measuring is optional.
When cooking, yes, sometimes. But when baking, no, never. You might be surprised how badly things can turn out if you don't measure your ingredients properly. Some bakers weigh, and some use volume measures (cup, tablespoon, etc.). However you choose to do it, always, always measure!
Baking myths can keep you from getting the results you want. Get the facts, practice proper procedure, and you will soon be baking like a pro!