Whether you are a seasoned cook or a beginner in the kitchen, chances are you have experienced some common baking mistakes. Everyone, regardless of their skill level with cooking, will make some type of blunder while they are learning. Some of the usual accidents happen in preparation, while others happen when the recipe is almost finished. Continue reading to learn about the most common baking mistakes and how you can avoid them.
To many people’s surprise, calibrating an oven is one of the most important things you can do to avoid common baking mistakes. How many times have you cooked something, only to pull it out when the timer goes off to see that it is undercooked or overcooked? This is due to the fact that your oven’s thermometer may be inaccurate in relation to the dial setting you choose. When you choose a temperature, it is not guaranteed to cook your food at that degree. It requires calibration by a certified technician who is trained to test the accuracy of your oven and reset it to the appropriate level. This way, you will be sure that your food will cook as it is supposed to, according to the directions you are following.
Another one of the most common baking mistakes with regards to the oven is opening it before you are meant to. When a recipe calls for a baking time of 20 minutes, opening the oven even at 15 minutes may be a terrible idea. When you pull open the lid, you are releasing the heat into the kitchen that has taken some time to fill up. It takes time for that heat to be replaced, so the temperature inside the oven drops significantly when you open the door. This interrupts the cooking process, which can change your dish. Resist the temptation to check on your dish until it is nearly close to the time it should be ready. If your oven is calibrated, this should not be a big problem. That is why it is recommended to do this in order to avoid other common baking mistakes.
There are several different types of accidents that can happen with regards to ingredients used in recipes. Usually there is some type of error in the type of ingredient used, the quantity, or the quality.
Changing the proportion of ingredients you use for a particular recipe is usually a bad idea. Often times the directions have been laid out in a very specific way to result in a specific taste and consistency. If you change the proportions of what you put into the mix, you risk changing these tried-and-true elements of food. Even the smallest change can result in a total disaster. One single egg or one single tablespoon of salt can throw off an entire dish and leave you wondering, “What did I do?”
Another way that ingredients make their way into the list of common baking mistakes is by being substituted incorrectly. Many people feel turned off by recipes that call for high-fat and high-cholesterol ingredients. Therefore, it is a usual practice for these people to use the low-fat, low-sugar, and low-cholesterol varieties of their favorite ingredients. This turns out to be a wrong decision when a recipe relies on the fat or consistency of the ingredients they are wanting to substitute out of the mix.
If you change the proportion of the type of ingredients you are using, it can ruin the dish you are preparing. Adding too much liquid like water, oil, or milk to a dish can make it too thin, watery, or oily. It is also possible that by adding too much flour that you are making the batter too lumpy or thick. Making changes like this alters the flavor and consistency you are looking for. That is due to the formulaic nature of recipes. Try to follow them to the best of your ability. If you are having trouble, research before you substitute ingredients or change proportions.
The Timing and Temperature
Some people think they can outsmart the directions they are given, and some people feel more intuitive about what they are reading when they decide to change the timing. No matter what the reason, it is often thought that you can change the timing of a dish by altering the temperature you are cooking the dish, for example. This could not be more false!
Some dishes are extremely specific in the way they need to be prepared. This is almost always true for the temperature the food must be cooked at. Certain ingredients obviously need to be cooked at a certain degree for safety reasons, like eggs. Others are not dependent on temperature for bacterial control, but rather for flavor and consistency. Something that is meant to be cooked quickly at a high temperature will come out differently when it is experimented with at a low temperature for longer duration.
If you decide to alter the timing and temperature of your cooking project, be aware you may be experimenting in uncharted territory. You do not want to ruin a dish just because you were not careful or aware of the time needed to bake the dish at a certain temperature.
Most of the common baking mistakes mentioned above can be easily avoided with the right care and focus during your cooking projects. Usually, the accidents in the kitchen occur with some type of preparation error that comes from good intentions. You might be trying to save time or make your recipe larger for a big group of hungry eaters. You could be feeling considerate of your health and the health of others by using different ingredients. It is important, however, to focus on the specific directions you have and follow the basic rules when baking if you want to ensure success.
Use your best judgment when it comes to experimenting with new recipes or dishes that you are not sure of how to prepare. Sometimes there are not clear guidelines or instructions to follow, so you may have to make some decisions on your own. Do research whenever possible, and ask someone you trust for advice when you really get stuck. Measure correctly and time appropriately. You will be thankful for avoiding common baking mistakes when you are enjoying your meal or dessert with family and friends.