While preparing to bake a Sticky Banana Toffee Pudding, I decided to share a few of my baking hacks; things to do to make baking easier and more successful.
You may notice recipes usually state ‘use room temperature eggs (as well as) butter’, but you may not have taken the eggs and butter out to warm up enough by the time you’ve started baking. It’s actually quite important when you’re creaming butter, sugar and eggs to not have butter and eggs that are cold. If you don’t have the ingredients at the right temperature it won’t cream properly. If too cold the butter will look like tiny pieces of rice in a puddle of egg stuff. And if you’ve melted it, it also might not bake properly. (Whereas in making pastry (crust) you do want cold butter.)
These tips will help get around the time constraints, so you can have warm enough ingredients.
Most commonly people know to soften the butter in the microwave, but it’s important to cut the butter into small cubes and use a low setting. It’s also helpful to move the pieces around on the plate or bowl, so that they’re evenly softened (otherwise some melt while others are cold).
Once you’ve gotten the butter temperature correct, placing it into a cold stainless mixing bowl will not help your goal. It’ll cool it down again. So, put warm water in the bowl or place the bowl in warm water for a couple of minutes and tip out before adding the butter. Too hot and butter will melt. But warm, the butter won’t congeal again.
Last tip is one I discovered myself but I’m sure it’s been done elsewhere. Since we refrigerate our eggs in the US, one usually needs to plan to bake with eggs by taking them out of the fridge in time to take the chill off. But you can place eggs in a bowl of warm water for 5 to 10 minutes. Again, not hot water, but warmer than lukewarm. The butter, sugar and eggs will look fluffy if you’ve got the right temperature.
These tricks will help you bake great cakes, cupcakes, muffins, and cookies.