Wednesday, July 31, 2013

'What Went Wrong?' Common Baking Mistakes

How many times has this happened to you? You followed the instructions on the recipe to the letter-you used the perfectly-sized pan, just the right amount of sugar, stirred for exactly as long as the recipe said to-, but it still doesn't come out right? It's so frustrating. Of course, it always happens at a really bad time-like when the bake sale is tomorrow or your mother-in-law is coming over. You ask yourself, what did I do wrong? How can I make it work out next time? Here are some of the most common baking mistakes and how to avoid making them in the future.

Problem-your cake is too dry.
Cause/Solution-You used too much baking powder and flour, not enough shortening and/or baked it at too low a temperature.

Problem-Your bread didn't bake evenly.
Cause/Solution-You may have used too much dough in the pan or had too many other things on the oven shelf at the same time. There should be at least two inches between pans in the oven. You could have also baked it at too high a temperature or used an old, darkly-colored pan.

Problem-Your cookies are soggy.
Cause/Solution-You let them cool in a pan; cookies need to cool on a rack.

Problem-Your biscuits have a 'rough' texture.
Cause/Solution-You didn't mix the dough enough. I've learned this the hard way, and now my kids use them as hockey pucks.

Problem-Your pie crust keeps crumbling.
Cause/Solution-You may have over-mixed the flour and shortening.

Problem-Your should-have-been-fluffy cake is too heavy.
Cause/Solution-You either used too much sugar or didn't bake it long enough. The good news is that they make good free weights.

Problem-Your bread didn't rise.
Cause/Solution-You may have kneaded your dough too much or used an old packet of yeast.

Problem-Your should-have-been-fluffy cake fell.
Solution-You may have used too much sugar and shortening or didn't use enough flour and baking powder. You also may not have baked it enough.

Problem-Your cookies spread out too much and now they're too big and hanging off the pan.
Cause/Solution-You might not have chilled the dough enough or baked them at the right temperature. Also, you shouldn't drop the dough onto a hot cookie sheet.

Problem-Some of your cookies are 'more brown' than others.
Cause/Solution-Your cookie sheet should be shiny and/or have at least two inches on the rack.

Problem-Some of your biscuits are 'more brown' than others.
Cause/Solution-Rolling the dough too thin over a dark surface pan and baking at too high a temperature.

Problem-Your pie crust is too 'tough'
Cause/Solution-You may have used too much water and over-mixed the dough.

And, for the most common baking error:

Problem: You get frustrated and don't have enough time to try again.
Cause/Solution-That's where the grocery store comes in. :)

Good luck!

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