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11 Common Baking Mistakes That You Should Avoid

baking mistakes to avoid

Trust me, I’ve ended up having to eat granola bars that were supposed to be cookies.

However, the important thing is not to get discouraged if what you make doesn’t turn out the way you expected.

There are all sorts of reasons why some things don’t work out when cooking or baking.

So saddle up and try again tomorrow. It may just turn out to be the best you’ve ever had!

Let’s be honest.

When there are 18 different ingredients in one recipe, along with a dozen other things to remember in the process, you’re bound to mess up at one point or another.

Even baking connoisseurs with years of experience make mistakes all the time. Baking is a science that takes a lot of flexibility and stamina.

Just remember that the result is delicious food, so you’ll be glad you didn’t stop because of a few simple mistakes.

Here is a rundown of the 11 most common baking mistakes people make and how you can avoid them as best as possible.

1. You Forget To Add A Key Ingredient

Imagine this: You’ve mixed the butter and sugar for your best friend’s birthday cake and then realise you’re out of flour.

It happens more than we’d like to admit.

You remember a key ingredient once you’re halfway through the process, and by then, it’s either too late to add it, or you forgot to stock it up in the first place.

This usually ends up with you having to use an alternative ingredient. While that may save the baked good overall, it won’t taste half as good as the original recipe would have.

How To Avoid This?

It’s simple: Mise en place. This French phrase means “put everything in its place.”

Ask any baking enthusiast, and they’ll tell you this is the first rule of baking anything.

The name is pretty self-explanatory. It means to lay out your cooking tools and ingredients before you start cooking. This cuts your baking time in half, which you would otherwise spend running from cabinet to cabinet looking for that one bottle of vanilla essence.

2. You Don't Measure Your Ingredients

Over or under measuring the ingredients can mess up the final product. Even an extra pinch of salt can ruin the texture of your cake, and too much flour can end up in chewy bread.

How To Avoid This?

Don’t try to guess the weight of ingredients you’ll need. Always use the measurements given in the recipe, and use a digital scale to weigh out all of your ingredients.

You can also purchase a set of measuring cups for fool-proof baking. This will help the final product taste better and be more consistent.

3. You Open The Oven Far Too Often

Many home bakers are so guilty of this.

I get it.

It’s incredibly tempting to peek in and check on your dish several times while it’s in the oven.

However, you’ll need to stop doing that so your baked goods can turn out to their full potential. Opening the oven makes the hot air escape and disturbs the temperature inside the oven. This can spoil the food, especially desserts.

How To Avoid This?

If you tend to check up on your baking dish too often, you can invest in an oven thermometer. This will allow you to know the accurate temperature of your oven, so you don’t have to peek in to see it every single time.

4. You Use The Ingredients At The Wrong Temperature

Another common baking mistake is using ingredients at temperatures other than what the recipe requires.

For example, using warm or room-temperature cookie dough instead of cooling it first. It is advised to refrigerate the dough so that the fat hardens. Using it at room temperature will cause the fat to melt and result in a brittle product.

How To Avoid This?

If the recipe calls for an ingredient to be used at a specific temperature, make sure you follow that instruction. Mixtures containing eggs and butter are essential in this regard. The temperature of these ingredients makes one hell of a difference in how they affect your baked goods.

Pro Tip: If you need to bring an ingredient to room temperature quickly, place it in a bowl and top it with water.

5. You Don’t Sift Your Dry Ingredients

For seamless mixing, you must sift your dry ingredients beforehand. Not sifting the ingredients results in huge clumps being left behind in the mixture. You need the compounds to be consistent to get a good result.

Clumps in the mix often make it appear stodgy and leave crumbs in places they aren’t supposed to.

This can affect the texture and appearance of the baked product and the time spent in the process. Not sifting your dry ingredients can result in hard cookies and unevenly cooked cakes, among other things.

How To Avoid This?

Unless you carefully sift your dry ingredients prior to mixing, you’ll never be able to get the texture quite right. Even if the overall flavour is good, you can still clearly feel the chewy and clumped part of the baked good.

You must ensure that the dry ingredients like flour are thoroughly sifted before adding them to the mixture. This allows for a firm mixture that holds its shape even when chilled.

6. You Don’t Know What Your Oven Needs

Let’s make this clear: All ovens are different and require different conditions.

This means entirely relying on the recipe’s bake time can ruin your baked goods (make them raw or burnt). We often don’t attempt to figure out the conditions that best suit our oven, which can end up in worse results than you’d expect.

How To Avoid This?

First of all, bake a test batch in your oven of something simple and small, like cupcakes. Make sure to keep an eye on the clock. Once the baked goods rise well and pass the skewer test, you can take them out and note your oven’s exact time and temperature.

This will give you an estimate of the conditions that would be ideal for your range.

Furthermore, you can choose to invest in an oven thermometer for reliable baking. The internal and external oven temperature can differ significantly, and a thermometer will provide you accurate readings, which the oven itself might not.

7. You Don’t Read The Recipe

This might seem basic, but it’s necessary, and something first-time bakers often ignore.

Recipes in cookbooks and baking blogs contain pointers from recipe developers that can help you avoid major blunders.

Carefully reading the instructions and understanding them gives you a pretty good idea of what the recipe requires so you can prepare accordingly.

How To Avoid This?

You’d be surprised at the number of baking problems you can solve simply by knowing the ingredients you’ll need and how you’ll need them. Even changes that may seem minor can completely change the taste and texture of the baked goods.

For best results, make sure you follow the recipe exactly as given, at least the first few times. Once you get the hang of it, you can change it up to experiment. Don’t mess with the recipe unless you fully know what you’re doing.

Improvising the ingredients and their quantity based on what “feels right,” especially if you’re a beginner, can have worse results than you’d expect.

8. You Don’t Take Care Of The Order Of Ingredients

You’d be surprised at how much of an effect the order of ingredients has on the result of your product.

For example, if you directly add eggs to the flour without following the appropriate steps, you’ll end up with a dough that is either too bland or too chewy.

Following the order allows you to make sure all the ingredients are getting the chance to be distributed evenly. Throwing all your ingredients into a bowl and going with the flow doesn’t exactly work well with baking.

How To Avoid This?

Once again, follow the recipe. The instructions are given a certain way for a reason, and messing up the order can have terrible results. A general tip is to separate the dry and wet ingredients before you mix them.

This will make for a consistent mixture that has evenly distributed components.

9. You Don’t Use An Electric Mixer

Several first-time bakers tend to forgo electric mixers because they assume their arm strength is enough. However, many baking goods require the ingredients to be beaten together until they reach a certain consistency. Mixing the ingredients is a lot more than just combining them.

Using arm strength will never give you the same results and also considerably increase the baking time.

How To Avoid This?

You’ll be able to find a wide variety of electric mixers to help you through the process. There are different mixers for individual recipes, but even a standard electric mixer should get the job done. Once you use the mixer to beat the ingredients, you’ll notice how much of a difference it makes.

Pro-Tip: To make sure that your dough is perfectly risen, give it a gentle but assertive poke as if you’re trying to get its attention!

10. You Don’t Prepare The Pan

Yes, I know it’s tempting to try and speed up the process as much as possible. However, this is an essential step that you can’t miss if you want to enjoy a delicious product.

While baking, the batter often adheres to the pan, with the heat cooking it through and allowing an even rise. As a result, the batter becomes one with the pan and resists being removed.

In a non-greased pan, the baked good is likely to split while removing, making for an unpleasant-looking dessert.

How To Avoid This?

The pan you’re going to bake in needs to be prepped before you pour in the batter. You can do this by spreading a thin and even layer of fat on all sides of the pan. Then line the surface with butter paper.

This prevents the batter from getting stuck in the pan and makes it easier to lift the product straight out.

11. Know Your Ingredients And Their Substitutes

Basically, don’t mistake baking soda for baking powder.

Some ingredients are easily substituted for others - like using All Purpose Flour instead of Bread flour and instant yeast instead of active dry.

Others, not so much.

Don’t make the mistake of using liquid fat like oil to make a pastry dough needing solid fat like butter. Such substitutes may be seemingly small, but they can mess up the final product.

How To Avoid This?

The best way to avoid this common baking mistake is to read the recipe of the product you’re baking. You can also choose to watch a few videos to make it easier for yourself. Most recipes usually outline the products you can use alternatively, which can make your life infinitely easier!

Final Thoughts

When it comes to baking, practice and patience are your best friends. You will undoubtedly make tons of mistakes on the way, but they’re disguised as baking lessons that you’ll surely learn a lot from as well.

Sometimes, it is probably easier to just order your cake online and live to bake another day!


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