Baking is always fun, but no one talks about those frustrating moments when a recipe or bake fails. Unlike cooking, you can't just throw a bunch of ingredients together and hope for the best. Baking is an exact science, so following a recipe is KEY, and there's nothing more annoying than spending all that time in the kitchen but the final result is a massive fail. Luckily, a fail doesn't just come out of nowhere, and along the process you'll be able to tell if it's headed in the right direction. Here 10 common baking mistakes with tips and tricks for how to avoid them. HAPPY BAKING!
Baking Mistakes Uncovered
Baking Mistakes #1. Your Batter Curdles
Common baking mistake #1. We've all been there. You've combined the sugar with butter; it's going great until you add the eggs and it becomes a curdled mess. Not pretty and the batter 100% will bake wrong giving a weird texture.
The Solution: ALWAYS Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature UNLESS otherwise specified. Ingredients are finicky, and they only like to hangout with like-temperature ingredients. If a recipe doesn't specify, it's always safe to refer to the temperature of the other ingredients.
TIP: If you forget to bring your eggs or butter to room temperature try the following:
Eggs: Warm in a bowl of hot water for 5-10 minutes
Butter: Warm in 10 second increments in the microwave being careful not to melt.
#2 - Your Batter is Too Wet/Dry
This is super common baking mistake, and mostly likely happened because you added too much or too little of an ingredient. To avoid this always read through the recipe before starting and measure correctly using the following method.
The Solution: Fluff your ingredients before spooning them into your measuring cup making sure not to press the ingredient in or you'll end up with more. Spoon more than needed, then use a knife to scrap off the excess.
TIP: If given in a recipe, use a scale to ensure correct gram/ounces measurements.
If the batter is still too wet, add a little flour (or the main dry ingredient) in tbsp increments until of desired consistency.
If the batter is too dry, do the same except with the main wet ingredient.
#3 - Your Batter is Clumpy
This baking mistake is not as common, but it's more about those extra details that make something AMAZING. For example, when it comes to macarons, sifting the ingredients beforehand can make or break the final product.
The Solution: If you want your final bake, such as a cake, meringue, pie crust or any pastry, to have a fine crumb and be smooth, then sift your dry ingredients at least once to prevent clumps.
Tip: This may seem like a no-brainer, but don't use a tiny sifter, it will take forever. Get a big sifter that fits fully over your mixing bowl to prevent a mess.
Bread Baking Mistakes #4 - Dough doesn't Rise
There's nothing more frustrating than a dough that doesn't rise. Luckily these baking mistakes are easy to avoid.
The Solution: Check your expiration label! Yeast is basically a fungus (gross I know, but it's the good kind!) Active Yeast and instant yeast, needs to be kept alive for it to work, so make sure you keep your active yeast refrigerated or in a cool place, and always check the expiration before using.
TIP: If you're not sure if your yeast is still active, bloom it before hand in a ¼ cup of warm water. After 5 minutes, it should foam a little signally it's active.
#5 - Your Batter is Tough
I get it, baking is fun, and sometimes we can get carried away with mixing. However, this is a big no-no especially with cake and cookie batters. Over-mixing can lead to tough dough and tougher baked goods.
The Solution: Always mix your batter until JUST combined. This looks like a batter that is just starting to hold together with a few flour streaks remaining. To incorporate it a little more fold once or twice with a spatula.
Baking mistakes #6 - Oven trouble: Your Baked Goods Burn
These common baking mistakes happen to the best of bakers. Ovens are unique and sometimes you're doing a bunch of things while baking, and you forget that you have a cake in there.
The Solution: Set a timer so you don't forget! For precision, as sometimes the indicated temperature is off, use an oven thermometer so you're baking at the EXACT needed temperature.
TIP: If the top is baking quicker than the centre, cover the top with tin foil to prevent burning.
#7 - Your Baked goods don't bake evenly
Ovens are temperamental and each has its own character. Some ovens have warmer spots than others leading to uneven browning or a burnt top with a wet middle. Very annoying, but here's how to fix that. Always check from doneness by inserting a knife/skewer into the center. If it comes out clean or with a few crumbs, it's done!
The Solution: Once you get to know your oven, you'll know how to adjust your baking time and position of your rack, but as general rule, always bake in the middle of the oven for an even bake.
TIPS: 1.If you're unsure about the baking time, bake for half of the recommended time, then add more time in increments if needed.
2.If your oven has a hot/cool spot, rotate the baking pan halfway through so one side isn't baked more than another.
#8 - Your Baked Goods Deflate
The Solution: I'm talking to you, Sally-I-Want-My-Brownies-Now! These types of baking mistakes are totally avoidable, don't check on your baked goods by opening and closing the oven. When you open the oven door, cool air rushes in and it will affect the inner temperature. So be patient, watch your cookies through the window, and only open the oven door if necessary.
TIP: Sometimes you do all the right things and the cake still deflates right out of the oven (this is super common with meringue based cakes). If you notice your cake is starting to deflate, prop the cake, still in its pan, upside down and let gravity prevent further deflating. Once the cake is completely cooled, then remove from the pan.
For meringue cakes (ie. meringue kisses, pavlovas): 1) Separate your eggs at room temperature to make sure there are no traces of the yolk with the whites; 2) Make sure when whipping egg whites the bowl is oil free; 3) Don't open the oven when baking or the cool air will deflate it; 4) Once baked, let it cool slowly in the oven for 1 hour, then another hour with the door cracked open.
#9 -Don't Come out of the Pan
There's nothing more frustrating than putting in the hard work, and the final product won't come out of the pan.
The Solution: For this common baking mistake, always line or grease the bottom and sides of your baking pan. A recipe will always specify how to prepare the baking pan, but if it doesn't, line with parchment paper cut to size or grease with softened butter using your fingers to get the butter into each crevice.
TIP: If your baked good still won't come out, run a sharp knife along the sides to release or warm the outsides of the pan in a bowl of hot water. Make sure the water doesn't touch the baked good.
10. Last Common Baking Mistake - Your Icing Melts Off
That sad moment when all your icing slides or melts off a cupcake.
The Solution: Wait for your baked good to completely cool before icing.
TIP: If you're really impatient, pop your cake/muffin in the fridge for 5 minutes to cool.
I hope these tips help you solve AND avoid these common baking mistakes. Happy baking!