Ever wanted to cook more than premade boxed mixes at the grocery store? Everyone has certain skills in life, and not everyone can be gifted with chef-level cooking skills. Maybe it’s a skill you’ve never been interested in, or maybe you just don’t seem to be successful in the kitchen. Either way, it made you want to learn more about pastry, you’ve come to the right place. Put on this apron and preheat your ovens because you’re about to become the next Martha Stewart!
What you need to know before you start cooking…
There’s something wonderful about making a sweet or savory treat that turns out well and can be enjoyed by others. It’s a fulfilling feeling when you’ve made this tasty creation. There are a few things I’ve learned about baking over the years that I think are important for beginners.
Take as much creative freedom as possible
Remember to get creative from time to time. If you are convinced that what you are doing will work, do it! Baking is amazing because you can add and change whatever you want, as long as you save the essential ingredients as well. Sometimes the best creations are the ones you came up with, trial and error never hurt anyone.
Learn to accept when something is wrong.
There will be times when you feel devastated because you worked so hard on something, and it didn’t turn out exactly the way you imagined or was a complete failure. As with anything else, you shouldn’t put yourself down, again, trial and error is an important step in learning to bake. Sometimes this may not go as planned and you will have days when you do a bad batch or do not master a certain technique; it’s good you’ll get there!
What works for someone may not work for you
If you fall victim to a technique that people claim is super easy, and you try it, and it isn’t, don’t blame yourself. There are so many variations in baking and cooking that what works for someone may not work for you, so if you find a way that works, stick with it and work around what you know.
Try new, more challenging recipes
Once you’ve figured out all the basic baking recipes like brownies and cakes, move on to something a little more difficult. Try a pie or a pastry! Maybe you prefer to stick to what you know, so make it a challenge and elevate what you already know.
Unwritten cooking rules
Although baking may seem like a relatively simple task, there are a few unwritten rules you need to remember when cooking up a storm. Follow these rules, and you’ll have a smooth run, don’t follow them, and you might wonder later, what went wrong?
Always preheat your oven!
It is important that your oven reaches a certain temperature before you put your treats in, otherwise the oven will not be heated enough to cook them well. Make it the first step before you start!
I can’t stress how important measuring correctly is for beginner bakers, you might think you’re like Gordon Ramsay and want to add “a touch of this” and “a little of that”, but you may not know the importance of some ingredients. Always remember to measure each ingredient as accurately as possible.
Clean as you go
Hygiene is the most important thing when cooking anything, and you should always be aware of cleaning. As annoying as it can be at times, this is an important step to avoid cross-contamination between certain foods.
Double and triple check
Maybe you think you’ve memorized a recipe or you already know what’s next… check again. It’s easy to forget an ingredient or miss a step and remember it once it’s been put in the oven! Admittedly, I’ve done this many times when I misread one recipe for another on the same page and used the wrong ingredients… double and triple check it.
Recipes for beginner bakers
Here are some of the easiest recipes to get you started on your baking journey!
Cakes with chocolate chips
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
225 g (1 cup) caster sugar
300 g (2 cups) plain flour (sifted)
200g (1 cup) melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
100g-200g chocolate or chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 160 C or 320 F.
Add the sugar and melted butter to a bowl and mix
Sift together the flour, baking powder, vanilla and salt and add to the sugar and butter mixture. Add the chocolate chips at this point if you are making chocolate chip cookies.
Mix using your hand. Once you get a dough texture, add the egg and knead again by hand.
Spread some butter on a baking sheet. Take some dough, roll into balls then flatten a little. Keep them on the small side as they spread during cooking. Don’t keep the cookies next to each other or they will stick together.
Bake and cook for 10 to 20 minutes. The larger the cookies, the longer they will take to bake. They are ready when the edges are a little golden.
2 cups standard-grade flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup caster sugar
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ cups of milk
1 ½ cup blueberries
Optional 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 200C or 392F.
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl until combined, don’t overmix or the muffins won’t rise evenly!
Pour into a prepared and well greased muffin tin
Bake for 15-18 minutes
Leave to cool on a wire rack or plate
250g of butter
½ cup cocoa powder
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup regular flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line an 18 x 28 cm mold with baking paper.
Melt the butter in the microwave or in a saucepan
Put the butter in a bowl, add the cocoa powder
Incorporate the white sugar and the eggs, mix well then add the vanilla essence
Sift the flour and baking powder, mixing until well combined
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until brownies spring back when lightly touched
Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
Ingredients — Cupcakes
150g softened butter
1 ½ cups caster sugar
2 ½ cups self-rising flour
1 ¼ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
100g softened butter
1 ½ cups icing sugar
2-3 drops of vanilla essence
1-2 tablespoons of milk
Preheat the oven to 190C
Beat butter with an eclectic mixer until smooth, add powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy
Add the eggs and mix well
Add sifted flour, milk and vanilla and beat until smooth
Place the cupcake cases in parchment paper in a cupcake mold, pour the mixture with a spoon until they are ⅔ full.
Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown or until springy when lightly pressed.
Place on a wire rack to cool while you prepare the frosting
Beat the butter until pale and fluffy, sift the sugar and add the vanilla essence
Mix until combined
Add milk until light and frothy
Spread or pipe over cupcakes
No matter what’s cooking in the kitchen, you’re now well on your way to becoming a better baker. Have fun, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and you’ll taste the sweet success of your creations in no time. Go out and cook something delicious!