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Top Baking Secrets to Know

Top Baking Secrets to Know will teach you a few secrets that will help improve your ability to create delicious baked goods.

If you’re looking for a yummy baking recipe, my mom’s Homemade Lemon Bars is the perfect recipe to try.  The secret is in the crust. 

Simple Baking Secrets You Need to Know  - Cutting board with flour, cookie cutter, almond, cookies, utensils.

“If baking is any labor at all, it’s a labor of love. A love that gets passed from generation to generation.” – Regina Brett

There’s something so wonderful about baking homemade pastries and bread. The smell of freshly baked goods waft through the house and entice your family members down to the kitchen.

Whenever any of the grandchildren were going to my grandmother’s house, she would call ahead and ask what type of pie we would like.  If all three of us went to her house, three different pies were cooling on a rack whenever we would walk in the door.

One time I asked for blueberry pie, and when I arrived, she apologized and said that she didn’t have enough blueberries to make a pie, so she added apples and made me a blueberry-apple pie.

From that point on, my favorite pie was that perfect combination. I love that I have that memory, and I treasure that I had a grandma that valued her grandchildren so much that she made them each a pie when we visited. It made each of us feel so special.

Family recipes are treasured keepsakes that nourish your loved ones. Baking is a learned skill, so make sure you know the best tips to create dishes that will have everyone amazed with your culinary skills.

Creating a Cozy Life Group

Since you clicked on this post for baking secrets, I’m guessing you like all things cozy living. I created a Facebook group called Creating a Cozy Life with over 64,000 like-minded souls.

It’s a group where we share recipes, pictures of things that leave you in awe, and ideas on how to make your life just a little bit more snug.  Join here to be part of the virtual cozy cabin.

Here are the Top Baking Secrets to Know:

Use a digital scale instead measuring cups

When I worked at a large convention hotel, we hired a fantastic chef. The hotel didn’t have a digital scale to measure ingredients.

The chef was shocked that we didn’t have one, and he raced out to get it. He said it’s impossible to have correct measurements without the scale, and baked goods can taste off by just the slightest variation.

When you use a measuring cup, the weight of ingredients you use can be off by up to 50%. Most recipes call for ingredients to be measured in cups or tablespoons; you can easily convert quantities with the internet.

A digital scale is an inexpensive addition to add to any kitchen. Here’s the digital scale I recently purchased:

Review the recipe and prepare ahead

As obvious as this rule is, how often have you not planned ahead and made a disaster out of a delicious recipe by either not have an ingredient that you thought you had or messing up a step in the process?

My hand is definitely in the air.

Read the recipe thoroughly and take out all the ingredients ahead of time.  You’ll be happy you did.

Use the best ingredients you can afford.

There’s a definite difference in how your baked goods come out depending on the quality of ingredients you use.

If you’re going to go to the trouble of making delicious home-baked goods, make sure the ingredients make them go from good to great.

I always use the best baking chocolate I can afford because there is such a difference in taste.  You also want to make sure your ingredients are fresh.

Spices, baking soda, and baking powder, lose their potency over time.

I buy Ghirardelli chocolate for my baked chocolate goods.  You can find it here:

Prevent overworking your dough

Once flour hits the bowl, you want to handle it as little as possible.

The reason for this is the gluten in the flour becomes tougher the more you handle it.

This rule does not apply if you add yeast. When rolling out pie dough, roll it out only once for best results.

Use Kosher salt instead of table salt

I was surprised what an important step this is because table salt has twice the potency of kosher salt.

This is the reason why most recipes call for it instead of regular salt.

Do yourself a favor, and always have Kosher salt on hand to use for your cooking.

Orange zest

If your recipe calls for orange, lemon, or lime zest, it is easier to do if your fruit is at room temperature and the fruit you pick has a rougher texture skin.  Smooth-skinned fruit is harder to grate.

Make sure you preheat the oven

I live in a small town. We have a merchant market where everyone has booths where they sell their goods. Inside the building is a place that makes hamburgers from local meat and a coffee stand.

The building was never busy until the coffee shop hired a man who retired to our area to bake goods. He was a pastry chef in Paris, and the coffee shop convinced him to work with them.

Now, there are lines of people waiting for his sconces, cookies, and pies. How do I know this? Because I’m in line for my white cheddar chive scone.

My week is not complete unless I get my scone fix. I asked him what his number one tip was for a home baker.

Preheating your oven was his favorite tip. He said it is the MOST critical step in baking, and many people don’t do this simple step.

The oven has to be hot when the trays go in; otherwise, the items won’t turn out nearly as well. There you have it, advice from a master baker from Paris.

Perfectly sliced desserts

Use a sharp knife dipped in hot water.  Make sure you wipe it clean before making the next slice.

You could also use a pizza cutter to cut brownies and sheet cakes.  It cuts clean squares and rolls smoothly.

Easy molasses clean-up

Dust flour into your measuring cup before adding molasses.  Now it will easily pour out, and clean-up is a breeze.

Use a cheese grater to make your cakes, cupcakes, bread, biscuits, or muffins perfect

A cheese grater will smooth all the bumps on your masterpiece and make imperfections obsolete.

Butter and flour your pans generously or use parchment paper

I go the parchment paper route.

I love not having to clean up as much now that I use it to line my bakeware.

I can also lift out cakes, bread, cupcakes, and muffins easily out of their pans, so my hard work isn’t in vain.

High altitude means baking differently

I belong to a homesteading group, and one of the members said her top baking tip was to buy the book “Pie in the Sky.”

She said living in high altitude areas your baking comes out different and this book “Saved her biscuits!”

Go here to get your resource into high altitude baking:

Clean as you go

If you are cleaning as you work, it will make the baking process go more smoothly.

Since you won’t have a big mess to clean up at the end, you will be more likely to want to bake again soon.

That’s a good thing.

Use a toothpick to outline your design on the frosting.

Before writing or drawing designs on a cake or cupcakes, use a toothpick to write out your message or draw the design before piping on the frosting.

If you make a mistake, you can always smooth it over and start over before putting on the colored frosting.

Garnish

Make your dessert even more special by adding special garnishes. Fresh fruit on top or even chocolate curls will add pizazz to your dish.

You can make chocolate curls with a vegetable peeler.  Pull the peeler firmly down on a chocolate bar, and it will make perfect curls.

Egg wash

To make an egg wash easier to apply in a single layer, add a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of water.  This will thin out your wash.

Soften Brown Sugar

Brown sugar tends to get hard.  To soften it, add a slice of bread to the container.  It takes about one day for the brown sugar to absorb the bread’s moisture, making it soft again.

Plump raisins

If a baking recipe calls for raisins and you like the taste of softer raisins, boil them for a few minutes until soft, and then proceed with the recipe instructions.

Easier way to chop nuts

Put nuts in a plastic bag and roll them with a rolling pin to your desired fineness.  It’s quicker than chopping the nuts and doesn’t make as much mess.

Softened butter

If your recipe specifies soften butter, grate the amount needed of cold butter, and it will soften in minutes.

Keep wax paper from slipping

To keep your wax paper from slipping when you’re rolling out the dough, you’ll want to sprinkle a little water on the counter and then place your wax paper over it.

Easy clean-up.  

Dust your nuts with flour before chopping them in a food processor.  The flour prevents them from sticking to the bottom of the processor.

Cookie Baking Secrets

Let cookie dough “rest”

It would help if you let your cookie dough rest for a period before baking it.  Ten minutes should do it.  The reason for this is to let the sugar dissolve in the liquid ingredients before baking.

Use ice cream scoops to make perfect-sized cookies

The best thing to do is have an array of ice cream scoop sizes to make perfectly formed cookies. Ice cream scoops come in sets now with all different sizes so you can make the right size for each recipe.

You can find a set of three scoops here:

Use a muffin pan to form perfect cookies

Dorie from Dorie’s Cookies knows the 411 on creating perfectly round cookies – she uses a muffin tin to bake the cookies.

You can find Dorie’s cookie cookbook here:

Cool down

Allow your cookies to cool down completely before serving or storing.   The cooling process is what makes the true texture develop and the steam will make your cookies turn soggy when enclosed.

Separate containers 

You don’t want to store crisp cookies and soft cookies in the same container.  The crispy cookies will absorb moisture from the softer cookies.

Dusting wand

Did you know there’s a dusting wand that will allow you to dust each cookie or bar individually?

You’ll love this little magic baking tool, and the reviews agree.  You can find it here on Amazon.  

Cool off cookie sheets between batches

Let your cookie sheets cool off between your batches.  When you place your unbaked cookies on hot metal, it will cause the cookies to spread, and they will end up being too flat.

Cut-out Cookies

To help cut-out cookies keep their shape, place cookies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and place them in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes before baking.

A better roll-out

Instead of rolling out your cookie dough on flour, use sprinkled powdered sugar instead.  It works as well as flour and tastes better.

Presentation

Use cupcake liners to nestle cookies in for a sweet display of your special treats.  Place the cookie-filled liners on a tray.

Sticky cookies

If you left your cookies sit too long on the baking sheet after taking them out of the oven, your cookies might stick to the pan.

Place the baking sheet bake in the oven for a minute to loosen them.

Make all the Frosting at Once

One clever baker makes all the frostings she needs during the holidays at once and stores them in little containers in the refrigerator.

Whenever someone is in the cookie decorating mood, they simply take one of the containers and create their cookie masterpiece.

Cupcake Baking Secrets

No waste

Did you know that they made reusable cupcake liners made out of silicone?  Neither did I.  You can find them here at Amazon.  

Pie Baking Secrets

The next day

A professional pie baker suggested waiting a day before serving your freshly baked pie so all the flavors have a chance to blend.

Great pie crust

One of the secrets of a great pie crust is to cover the edge for half the baking time, so it doesn’t over brown.

Custard Pies

When you bake custard pies, bake at high temperatures for about 10 minutes to make sure the crust doesn’t get soggy.  Finish the pie at lower temperatures.

Cake Baking Secrets

Fill cake pans half way with batter

By filling your cake pans only halfway and spread well into the corners, you ensure the cake doesn’t spill over the edges, and the cake will bake evenly.

A Professional Nonstick Bakeware 3-Piece Round Cake Pan Set by Cake Boss.  You can find it here:

Moister cakes

Grandma knew a secret or two about baking.  To get a moister cake, place a pan of water on the rack under the cake during baking.

Perfect layers

Keep your cake layers from sticking in the pan.  Grease the bottom and sides of the pan and then line the bottom with wax paper.  Create the perfect-sized wax paper by tracing the bottom of the pan and then cut out.

After the cake has finished baking, invert the cake layer on the rack to cool.  Gently peel off the wax paper while the cake is warm.

Frosting cake

Cakes shouldn’t be frosted until the cake is completely cool.

For a cleaner cake plate, place three pieces of wax paper on the cake plate, hanging the edges over the ends.  Place the cake on the plate and frost it.  When you’re done, carefully pull the wax papers out.

Cake storage

Store your cake in an airtight container and add two sugar cubes that will absorb moisture.

We’ve reached the end of the Top Baking Secrets to Know.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss a post.  You wouldn’t want to miss other posts like Stress Relief Teas that Really Help

Let me know in the comments below how you liked this Top Baking Secrets to Know and what your favorite baking tip is.

Make sure you join our Creating a Cozy Life – Hygge Style Facebook group.  You’re not going to believe how amazing it is.  Join here to be part of the virtual cozy cabin.

I created a pin for this post so you can place it on your baking board on Pinterest.

Thanks for stopping by.  I’m so happy you found us!

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Top Baking Secrets You Need to Know

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Tuesday 28th of December 2021

"Use Kosher salt instead of table salt"

Your reasoning is terrible. NaCl is NaCl. If I have 5 grams of table salt, it would be just as salty as 5 grams of kosher salt. And even if it wasn't, isn't the answer to just use more table salt if you want more salt in your food? Unless kosher salt is cheaper by weight, there's literally no reason to switch unless there is some other benefit.

The most significant difference between the two is the size of the crystals, which cause discrepancies in measuring by volume. It's like the difference between measuring a cup of whole nuts to a cup of crushed nuts. If the recipe calls for kosher salt, you can't just substitute table salt 1:1, you have to adjust the amount to compensate (typically, you cut the amount of kosher salt in half if you want to use table salt instead). And not all brands of kosher salt have the same size or shape of crystals, either, causing even more discrepancies. It's also worth noting that kosher salt isn't really a thing outside of North America, which is a source of confusion to our international friends.

Personally, I think the whole kosher salt fad needs to go away. Table salt was good enough for my mom and her mom, it's good enough for me. I've seen some compelling reasons to use it, none of which apply to baked goods, but you've provided none of them.

"Butter and flour your pans generously or use parchment paper"

Using parchment paper when it isn't necessary is incredibly wasteful. Unless you're searing your baked goods to the pan and then letting the dirty pan sit out to dry out and get hard, it should clean up pretty easily with a bit of warm water and an ordinary dish cloth. There are only 3 cases I'm hesitant to give up parchment paper for, 2 of which can take advantage of a silicone pad (silpat): cookies with no fat in them (macarons, meringue cookies), crinkle cookies (chocolate, lemon), and sponge cakes. For bars (brownies) or crumb cakes (coffee cake), a push pan or cheesecake pan (not a springform pan) with a removable bottom works great. Candies (caramel, marshmallow) are about the only thing I haven't figured out a substitute for parchment paper.

"Put nuts in a plastic bag and roll them with a rolling pin to your desired fineness."

This is a terrible suggestion. I see this recommended often for bread crumbs, too. You know what you get? A plastic bag full of holes. Get a mortar and pestle if you don't already have one for grinding spices. I stopped using my food processor for making bread crumbs because it scratches up the plastic bowl and the dried bread cubes get stuck on the blade. It only takes a couple minutes to grind up the dried up heels from a loaf of bread. The mortar and pestle is easy to clean and takes up less space in the drying rack than the food processor, and no plastic bags end up in the landfill.

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Fudge Recipe In Karo Syrup - Yogitrition

Monday 13th of September 2021

[…] we talk about baking, desserts, or candies, there is no name more trusted than Karo. So today, let’s try the […]

Anindya

Sunday 19th of August 2018

Thank you very much for the suggestions. ...loved the language as well....

Kelly

Sunday 19th of August 2018

Hello Anindya! Thanks for writing in! You're very welcome. Kelly

Brenda

Monday 5th of June 2017

I am not sure what #10 means, please explain. Thank you

Kelly

Monday 5th of June 2017

Hi Brenda! If you are doing a thin layer of frosting, it will show all the uneven parts of the cake or cupcake. Use a grater kind of like sandpaper to "sand" down the bumps, so the frosting goes on smooth. I hope that helps! Kelly

Kelli Worthen

Tuesday 16th of May 2017

Thank you Kelly!!! Great information!!! ???

Kelly

Tuesday 16th of May 2017

Thank you so much Kelli! You made my night!

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