So you've been dying to make this cake all week, you've bought all of the ingredients, popped it in the oven and wow. An anticlimax. Something has gone wrong here, but what? Here are the most common baking mistakes and how you can fix them, so you have a perfect treat every time!
You do not measure your ingredients properly
I will admit, I'm bad at this. Maths isn't my strongest point, and you look at the scales and think 'yeah, that'll do'. Then all the ingredients get thrown into the bowl without a second thought. It's time to change that bad baking habit! Too much flour or sugar can have a significant negative impact on your finished product, so, ensure that you follow the exact measurements, buy reliable scales and use measuring spoons that are made to give you the most accurate amount.
Creaming, beating and folding confusion
If you're not a pro at baking, it can be slightly confusing when it comes to the recipe telling you to beat, fold or cream. Do they mean the same thing? Should I just mix? NO!
Creaming is when you mix butter and sugar together, this is always at the beginning of a recipe. The result should be pale and fluffy and is best when using an electric whisk. Creaming allows air to be trapped in the mixture which means your cake will have a better texture. When you see beating, this is a process of adding eggs to your creamed sugar and butter. Simple, right? A top tip is to beat your eggs separately first. Lastly, is folding. We fold the flour and other dry ingredients; this preserves the air that has been created and allows rising to take place in the oven. It's important not to use an electric whisk or be heavy-handed for this step because the air will disappear.
Hands off the oven door!
It's so tempting to check on your beloved baking but opening that oven door could be the cause of your failure. Opening that door = sunken middle. A common error is finding that the cake isn't cooked and opening the door every few minutes to check. However, this makes the oven lose heat and will make cooking time even longer.
The actual recipe
It's important to know that not every recipe you find is legitimate. I've had recipes where the cooking time has been wrong, ingredient measurements don't add up, and some are even missing vital ingredients. This doesn't mean you should improvise but just read through your instructions before you even attempt to get started. Here at Gookie Dough, it took us forever to perfect our recipe!
Recipies don't tell you a specific tin size for no reason. So you don't have the right sized tin but have one similar? Don't even contemplate it. A cake tin which is too small leads to burning or overflowing and guess what, the middle still isn't cooked. Yeah, we've all had that disaster! A tin that is too big could result in the mixture being super thin and unedible.
Room temperature ingredients
A recipe will state that they would like your butter at room temperature. It's easily ignored but what you didn't know is that it could be affecting your baking. When creaming sugar with butter to make cookie dough, the sugars gritty texture allows air pockets to be made within the butter. The air pockets then let the baking powder to expand and create that delicious texture. We want fluffy dough and trust us; we're experts!
Move your masterpiece!
So you've popped your baked goods into the oven, and now you can chillax for half an hour. Unfortunately not. No matter how posh your oven is, they don't always distribute heat at even levels which means that one part of your creation is exposed to more baking than the other. Ensure that you turn the tin/tray halfway through to allow best results!
You don't realise how long you've had that bag of flour or baking powder in your cupboard. Check the dates! More often or not, it is out of date (and for quite a long time, gross!). Using poor quality ingredients will mean that your flavour won't be top-notch, the product won't rise as well and the texture will be a bit naff.
Are chocolate chips not being your friend? Are they swimming to the bottom and being a pain? We feel you. A pro tip is to dust your chocolate chips with flour before throwing them into your mixture. If the chocolate chip is heavy, then make sure you add them last minute, so they have less time to sink! This is why our original dough is so chocolatey!
Too much cookie dough? No problem
It's easy to make too much cookie dough, and it's sad times if it's not edible, unlike our collection! A quick and easy fix is to freeze it instead of baking it. Not only does this save money, but it also means that you're free to bake cookies whenever you feel like it without the preparation hassle!
Level the mixture
Whether it's cake, cookies or any other sweet treat, you always need to level the mix once it's in the tin. We don't want to end up with a wonky cake, and for something that takes two seconds to do, it really is worth it. Just simple tilt the tin from side to side until the mixture seems even. Of course, dollop it in as uneven as you want, but please make it neat.
So, now you will never have an excuse for a failed batch of cookies or cupcakes! Baking should be fun so embrace your creations and with these simple steps, you're on your way to perfection.