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What is your definition of a good pie/tart crust ??
The internet is flooded with pie crust recipes and you may seem confused to as to which one’s the best. a good pie crust needs to be crisp, flaky, buttery, not too thick and not too thin with a clean finish. Yes, that’s my definition of a perfect pie crust.
This Pie crust recipe can be used with any filling. You need to bake the crust as required keeping in mind how you plan to use it
Flaky: There are various pie crust recipes you will come across. Some made with butter and some with shortening. The buttery pie crust tastes fantastic due to which my recipe contains butter. One of the essential things while making the crust is to make sure your butter is really really cold, not frozen but chilled. This is what yields a flaky crisp crust. Not just the butter even the other ingredients used, eg: the egg, water, etc need to be used when cold. This helps in keeping the butter firm in the dough which is essential for a crisp crust
Combining ingredients: Like most recipes, you first combine the flour & butter and then the other ingredients like egg and water. While adding the water you do not knead the dough. all you want to do is combine the ingredients bringing the dough together. Do not over add the water making the dough sticky or wettish.
Chill the dough: Once your dough is ready, it is essential to chill the dough at least for an hour or two. This will relax the gluten in the flour making it easier to roll. It also reduces the dough from shrinking while it bakes
Here’s sharing my crust recipe, hope it helps you achieve the perfect crust you looking for
- 180 grams all purpose flour
- 20 grams powdered sugar
- 100 grams salted butter, cold & chopped fine
- 1 chilled egg yolk
- 40 ml or as required chilled water
- In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and butter together. Pulse until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. To this mixture, add the egg yolk and pulse again until all well combined
- Put this mixture in a large bowl and add the water only a required making sure your dough does not turn sticky or wettish. Its should just come together forming a firm dough. Do not over knead as the butter in the dough will start melting making the dough sticky
- Once you form a firm dough, flatten it a bit and place it on some cling wrap. Cover it completely and refrigerate for an hour.
- Once ready to use, roll the dough using a rolling pin on a surface sprinkled with flour.
- Place this in a tart tray and bake at 170 degrees C
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One of the most easy and quick bread recipes are here. The Irish soda bread is a no yeast bread as it contains baking soda as the leavening agent. This rustic bake is crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Perfect when served with soup or I simply like to top it up with lots of butter and bite into it.
Each baker creates the Irish soda bread with their own twist. Traditionally the bread contains flour, buttermilk, baking soda and salt however many bakers add raisins, nuts and seeds to it as well. Today I am going to share a recipe of the traditional Irish soda bread with my twist that brings in honey & sesame seeds, and some more ingredients to make it taste just right.
How does the baking soda work??
Most bread recipes contains yeast as a leavening agent. The Irish soda bread recipe contains baking soda which is a base and buttermilk which is an acid. Both these ingredients react together to form a leavening agent
This recipe also contains butter. Butter is what makes the bread rich and tasty. In this recipe we will be using cold butter exactly in the same manner we use it while making pie crust. We will also be adding an egg to enhance the flavor and texture of the bread. Honey will add to the sweetness and sesame seeds will give it a nutty top.
Some make the Irish soda bread with wheat flour and some with all purpose flour. Wheat flour makes the bread heavy and dense. All purpose flour makes it too light not giving it that crisp outer shell and hollow feel. To make the perfect bread, stick onto using a combination of both flours, 50% wheat flour and 50% all purpose flour
Unlike other bread recipes, you need not knead the dough. Once you have added the buttermilk to the flour, you need to combine it well and not knead it. It should just come together. Refer the image given below as to how you want your mixture to look
While baking this bread make sure to not open your oven often. The top should be golden brown.
How to test if the bread is baked well?? Insert a toothpick in the center of the bread. The toothpick should come out dry. Another way to test if the bread is perfectly baked is to make sure it sounds hollow when tapped from the base. Using a finger tap the base of the bread, it should sound hollow and seem firm. Make sure to place the bread on parchment paper while baking.
If you feel that the top of the bread has become too brown, you can cover the top with an aluminium sheet. This will avoid the browning. I don’t do it as I never find the need to do so
Score the bread : Using a sharp knife, score deeply into the dough (dividing the dough into 4 quarters) This is done to make the heat in the oven enters right into the center of the bread. This will also avoid unnecessary cracks on the bread.
So here’s the detailed recipe with a step by step description to make you bake the bread perfectly well
- 260 grams all purpose flour
- 260 grams wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons castor sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 50 grams cold salted butter, cubed or cut fine
- 390 ml buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon of milk or buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon of melted butter
- 1 tablespoon of white sesame seeds
- In a bowl, combine the flours, castor sugar, salt, baking soda and mix really well until the baking soda is well combined.
- To the flour mixture, add the cold butter cubes and combine it well using your fingers. The mixture should resemble bread crumbs as you combine the cold butter into the flour.
- In another bowl, add the wet ingredients together, buttermilk, honey and egg. Beat well and add this mixture to the flour mixture. Using a whisk or spatula combine the wet ingredients with the dry. You do not need to knead this mixture but just combine all of it till it comes together.
- Lightly dust your kitchen surface with some all purpose flour and bring the mixture to the surface making sure you shape it into a 7 inch round. You do not want to knead it but just shape the mixture well and flatten it a bit like shown in the above image
- Once done, place this dough onto a tray lined with parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, score the top of the dough into an X. Refer to the images to do it right.
- For the egg wash, combine an egg yolk with the milk/buttermilk and melted butter. Mix well. Using a pastry brush, brush it onto the top of the dough. Once done, sprinkle some white sesame seeds all over.
- Bake this in a preheated oven at 200 degrees C for 45 to 60 mins or until you get the perfect color and hollow sound once baked (look up to the tips mentioned on the website for perfect baking)
- If you like raisins, add about a handful of them into the dough.
- You can even sprinkle some oats instead of sesame seeds on the top
- For more flavor, brush on more butter once baked but still hot
I’ve come across times when my dish turns out to be fab and sometimes the same one a big disaster. This is something that happened initially when I got into baking. I never knew what ingredients really meant or how to play with the oven temperatures or what perfect baking was all about. But NOW… with years and years of practice, I proudly present to you THE PERFECT BAKER that I have turned into. I love playing with ingredients, coming up with my own recipes, sharing them with all my baker buddies and getting more and more into learning the industry and all it has to offer .
In this post I have brought together 11 baking tips that are very essential in your baking journey. With loads of hard work and dedication to baking here’s my list of tips that would help you create some lovely bakes, basically it would help you learn and know your mistakes better.
Let get started ..
I’m sure you’ve come across time’s when you feel you’ve done everything right but yet it feels wrong. Sometimes, its your oven screwing it all up. Oven temperatures are very, very, very essential when it comes to baking. Each oven is different and so its important you learn your oven well and see what suits you best.
Its best to invest in an OVEN THERMOMETER. Not always does your oven show the right temperature. Some ovens take time to heat up and some heat up too fast. An oven thermometer will show you the right temperature whats present in the oven. This makes sure your bakes are baked to perfection.
Its essential to CLOSE YOUR OVEN DOOR WELL. When you curious to know whether your bakes are doing well in the oven you tend to open it every time. That is a big problem. Make sure to not open the oven door in the first 20-25 mins of baking a cake cos thats when the real baking is happening. If you want to check if your bake is baked well. Open the oven door remove the dish from the oven, close the oven door, check the dish outside, if required re put the dish in the oven.You do not want to check your bakes while the oven door is kept open for a while, this drops the oven temperature. To avoid this scenario you just bring the dish out of the oven and get it checked.
TURN/ROTATE YOUR BAKING TRAY/DISH HALFWAY THROUGH WHILE BAKING. Every oven tends to heat up faster at the back as compared to the front parts of the oven. Have you noticed cookies placed at the behind portion of the tray are darker than the cookies placed in the front of the tray after baking?? Well, that is because the heat at the back of the oven is more as compared to the front. Here’s why its compulsory to turn or rotate the tray for even baking on both sides. Many recipes ask you to do so, do not ignore it especially if the recipe mentions this step. While turning the oven dish/ tray for even baking do not want to waste time but do it fast as this will effect the oven temperature if you’ve kept the oven open for a long time.
PREHEATING AN OVEN. Temperature and time always affect the taste and texture of your bakes. It is always good to keep the temperature constant while baking. Constant changes in the temperature will change everything about what you baking. Therefore, starting in a cold oven and then temperatures increasing slowly affects your cakes, cupcakes or any bakes.
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#Weigh your Ingredients
These are one of the most essential things to keep in mind. Some of us like to do things fast and tend to avoid wasting time with weighing ingredients. But guess what, weighing ingredients is not a waste of time but very essential while baking. You will always notice a change in texture and taste if you do not weigh your ingredients. If a recipe calls for cup measurements or gram measurements, go on and do so. I personally like to have my ingredients weighed in grams since they tend to be very precise. When using cup measurements for weighing flour, powdered sugar or any ingredient in its powdered form make sure to weigh it by spooning it in the cup measurements. Do not push the cup into any powdered ingredient directly as this will let inn more than needed to be weighed that is why we stress on spooning the flour or powdered sugar into the cups
#Baking powder vs Baking Soda
Baking powder and baking soda are leaveners. I’ve come across some people who substitute baking powder with baking soda and vice versa. That is a big big MISTAKE.. You cannot substitute baking powder with baking soda or vice versa. They both have different chemical properties.Baking soda also known as sodium bicarbonate is a base. You will normally notice that your recipes which consist of baking soda will also consist an acid ingredient. Eg: Buttermilk, vinegar, cream of tartar, lemon juice, yogurt, etc. When you combine a base with an acid a chemical reaction takes place and carbon dioxide is produced. This carbon dioxide is what leads to a rise in your baked product. So you only use baking soda when you have an acid in your recipe
Baking powder is made up of baking soda, cornstarch and cream of tartar which also means that baking soda all by itself is much stronger than baking powder. Most of the baking powders we get today is double-acting which means the first leavening is when the baking powders get combined with the wet ingredients and the second leavening is when the baking powder comes in contact with the heat while baking. So like I said at the beginning both of these have different chemical properties and therefor we cannot substitute them for each other.
#Tricks to check if your cake is baked
Everyone rely’s on the toothpick trick where you insert the toothpick in the center of the baked cake to check if done or no. I do not rely on only this. You need to look into all the aspects. Check the color and texture of the cake as well. Touch the top of the cake with your fingers to see if it feels baked or still needs baking. If the cakes feels slightly bouncy and springs back when pressed lightly on top it is done, if not, it needs more baking. You should get a nice golden light color of top the cakes, not to dark thou. Your oven contains some spots where the heat is more and some spots where the heating is less that is why only checking a cake using the toothpick trick is not advisable. You need to use a combination of tricks to check your bakes.
# Is all ingredients at room temperature a must??
Majority of the times room temperature ingredients are the best however not always is it important. Some recipes ask you to use cold ingredients. Eg: The use of cold butter while making a pastry dough.
Using room temperature ingredients for majority of the recipes will allow all the ingredients to combine evenly. Bakes contain some level of fat in it. Cold ingredients like cold eggs can re-harden the fats present in the batter. This will make the batter lumpy or curdled. While beating egg whites for meringues, the whites become more fluffy and light when done with room temperature eggs as compared to cold eggs. This means whatever you do with the egg whites that are beaten well will yield a good rise.
So its just each ingredient that matters and what the recipe tells you to use . Its a myth that using room temperature ingredients is a must. Check what your recipe has to say to you.
#Chill your cookie dough before baking
Its always good to chill your cookie dough for an hour in the fridge or for 20-25 mins in the freezer. This will always yield perfect cookies each time you bake them
#Line your baking trays before baking
Some bakers like to dust their baking trays & pans with butter & flour before pouring the cake batter for baking. This is done to make sure the cake leaves the pan easily after baking. This method however does not work always. The consistency of the cake batters also matter. To avoid all the confusion, its best to line your baking dishes with parchment paper or butter paper before pouring the batter into it. I like to cut the baking sheets exactly the size of the dish and then pour the batter into it. Following these steps helps to get a perfect shaped cake that springs out of the dish easily without any hassle.
#Baking pans for cakes
Nowadays, the market has all the possible baking dishes available. Call it silicon, non-stick, etc. But old is gold, nothing can beat the use of traditionally used aluminium pans for baking. They are simply perfect for even baking. They heat up evenly, easy to handle, can be used and stored as required. Make sure to line the baking tray with parchment paper before baking.
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#Creaming butter, eggs & sugar together
One of the most common steps in any recipe is beating the butter and sugar together. Some recipes even specify as to how many minutes you should be doing this. Sometimes its tempting to stop halfway through and move to the next step but trust me, you want to complete this one to perfection. Beating the butter and sugar together helps you incorporate air into the batter, this is what helps your cakes to get that perfect rise. When you beat the butter and sugar you will notice that the mixture gets lighter in color and fluffier in feel which means you have incorporated air into the batter. Thats when you can move to the next step. Make sure to use room temperature butter to get this step right
Another essential step while baking is to fold the flour and not beat the flour into the batter. Beating it will lead to an over mixed batter. Popularly used is the cut & fold method to fold in the dry ingredients into your cake batter. In this method, you use a spatula to fold in the flour and keep cutting through and folding again and again till all of it is mixed well. They call it the cut and fold method but all it means is do not stir your mixture vigorously, PUT IN SOME LOVE…
Once you’ve baked your goodies its compulsory you cool them completely before storing them. Its compulsory to wrap baked cakes in some cling wrap to avoid it from turning dry. If you plan to keep the cakes longer its wise to store them in the freezer than fridge as storing them in the fridge would dry the cakes but freezing them would keep it intact. When you want to consume the cake, thaw it for a few hours and then consume it.
So these were a few baking tips that would help you through your baking journey. There many many more but these are some really important one’s
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