Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Supposedly simple baking instructions.

I've been baking a lot lately. I'm trying out different recipes and really enjoying it. Now. To begin with, I almost gave up. It didn't take me long to realize that people who baked and posted their delicious recipes assumed that everyone knew the difference in creaming, beating, whipping, folding... all of the basic terms. I have baked plenty of times before I decided to get serious and I just always used a whisk or fork or spoon or whatever was handy to accomplish any of those terms. For the most part I never had a problem with this because I always used boxed mixes. Making things from scratch is on a whole 'nother level. I'm going to outline some of these terms. Hopefully it'll help someone other than me.

  • Creaming - Usually when you mix butter or cream cheese and sugar. The preferred method I use is to beat the room temperature butter first then add the sugar a little at a time until it has the texture of whipped cream (light and fluffy). I use my stand mixer for this and use the paddle attachment at medium speed.
  • Beating - Generally uses a wire whisk which is to introduce air. It is a vigorous motion. I use the wire whisk attachment for my stand mixer and set it around 6 speed.
  • Whipping - Almost the same as beating, except faster. Also a method used to incorporate air. I use 8-10 speed on my stand mixer for this.
  • Folding - This means to combine with a spoon without losing a light texture. The best method for me has been to have the ingredients in a bowl, put my spatula underneath all the ingredients, and fold over the top. I just keep doing the same thing until it is mixed like it should be.
  • Kneading - Basically folding with your hands. Do this on a counter. Fold one side into the middle and press down. Turn 90° and fold again. Do this until it is completely mixed.
  • Softened - This means room temperature, not melted.
  • Soft Peak - When you whip something until it forms peaks that bend at the top when you pull out the whisk.
  • Stiff Peaks - When you whip something until it forms peaks that stand perfectly straight after you pull out the whisk.
This is boring and wordy, but all of these things were terms that I didn't know. Not knowing these things made for some unappealing desserts. Cookies that tasted really good but were so floury they were hard to chew, flat cakes... I could go on. Things are turning out much better now. Later on I'm going to try and post pictures of some of these things.

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