Tips for Cakes, Cookies, Muffins and Pies

Tips for Cakes, Cookies, Muffins and Pies
  • Grate the rinds of lemon, grapefruit, and orange and store in the freezer. They make excellent flavoring for muffins, cakes, and frostings.

  • If you add one teaspoon of glycerine to every half kilogram of flour, it will help make the cakes light and spongy.

  • Add a teaspoon of condensed milk while preparing the icing for a cake in order to prevent it from cracking.

  • When making cupcakes or muffins, use an ice cream scoop to get the right amount of batter in each muffin cup.

  • If you have trouble getting muffins out of the pan, place the bottom of the hot pan on a wet towel for about 30 seconds.

  • Keep crackers in the sugar canister to keep sugar from caking.

  • You can easily determine whether you need a fresh supply of baking powder by pouring 1/4 cup of hot tap water over 1/2 tsp. of baking powder. If the mixture doesn’t bubble actively, it’s too old.

  • If you do not have any squares of chocolate for baking, substitute, 45 ml cocoa plus 10 ml shortening for each square. It’s just as good and so much cheaper.

  • When making cookies, add one tsp. of jam or jelly. The cookies will have a better taste and will stay moist longer.

  • To make cakes, cookies, pancakes, and waffles especially moist, add two tbsp. honey to the batter.

  • Preferably make the cake previous night, soak with syrup or as per the recipe, and ice it the next day, for a smoother, cleaner icing. Never ice a cake which has not cooled thoroughly, through and through.

  • Always keep a glass of very hot water and a large flat knife ready, if required for finishing touches. When the knife is dipped in hot water, then the icing spreads very evenly and quickly.

  • When sprinkling colored sugars, granules, etc., in a partial area of icing, first pipe a rough outline to work as a guide. Highlight outline after the sprinkling is over, by piping again exactly over it. This way your end result will be much cleaner and accurate.

  • Always brush the top and sides of cakes before starting to ice them, with a food brush. This way the crumbs won’t get embedded in the icing.

  • Never overbeat mixture for muffins, biscuits, cookies, etc. as lumpy batters turn out better-textured products. Always handle the batter gently. Make sure to sieve all dry ingredients together 2-3 times for better blending, and even softness.

  • To get a smooth cream from top malai of milk, run in a small mixie for just 4-5 seconds, before chilling. This will give a smooth texture cream which may be used exactly like commercial fresh cream.

  • Mix extra pastry dough, to the breadcrumb stage, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use as and when required, for simple and quick results. The same dough may be used in a number of tarts, pies, cookies, and puddings.

  • Always handle messy mixtures like that of fudges, chocolates, etc. with hand dusted with cornflour, it will be much easier to handle.

  • Always store coconut in airtight containers or sealed plastic bags to prevent drying out. For tinted coconut, add a few drops of food coloring to a small amount of water. Pour over flaked or shredded coconut in a jar. Cover and shake until thoroughly colored.

  • One tsp. of cornstarch will improve the texture and flavor of fudge.

  • A little flour added to icing sugar makes it go a lot further.

  • Marshmallows will not dry out if stored in the freezer. Cut up with scissors when you want to use them.

  • When cutting marshmallows or gumdrops, dip scissors in hot water.

  • Crushed cornflakes can be used as a substitute for pecans.

  • When you double a recipe, just use the original amount of salt.

  • To color sugar for decorating cakes, cookies, etc., put one or two drops of food coloring in a small plastic bag. Add one or two tsp. of white sugar and tie the top of the bag securely. Work sugar and coloring together with fingers until the sugar is evenly colored.

  • A small two-inch paintbrush will last longer and stay more pliable than a pastry brush.

  • Rinse your measuring cup with oil, then rinse in hot water, before measuring sticky liquids. They will pour easily.

  • To make cake flour, sift together two tbsp. cornstarch to one cup of all-purpose flour.

  • When making quick bread, cakes, and cookies, cut the sugar by one-third to one-half. Bring out the sweetness by using vanilla extract.

  • Creaming shortening and sugar are easier if a few drops of water are sprinkled on top of the mixture.

  • When making a cake, always add two tbsp. boiling water to the butter and sugar mixture. This makes a fine-textured cake.

  • When making a cake, or any recipe that calls for mixing dry ingredients together then add them at a later point, put them all in a paper bag or plastic bag and shake to mix. You have no separate bowl to clean and no fuss or muss either.

  • If batter always rises up the mixer beaters, spray the beaters with a nonstick vegetable oil spray before using.

  • Roll raisins or dried fruit in flour before stirring them into the cake batter to prevent them from sinking to the bottom.

  • Leave cloves out of spice cake if you plan to freeze it. Cloves get stronger in cold storage.

  • Keep a mixture of equal parts flour and shortening at room temperature. Use to grease cake pans.

  • Line cake pans with margarine wrappers instead of wax paper.

  • Use the parchment from margarine and butter wrappers to grease cake and cookie pans.

  • Quick-cool angel food cake by inverting pan over a tray of ice cubes.

  • Sprinkle cake plate with granulated sugar to prevent the cake from sticking when serving.

  • To keep the icing from running off a cake, dust the cake with powdered sugar before icing.

  • When you’re ready to frost the cupcakes you’ve made to pack in lunches, don’t frost the tops. Slit the cupcakes in half, frost the centers, and put back together. This way, the frosting won’t stick to the sandwich bag.

  • Use a clean squeeze-type ketchup or mustard container for decorating cakes.

  • Make a handy, disposable paper funnel for icing cakes by snipping off a corner of an envelope.

  • Before placing a tube cake in a cake server, put a glass or plastic bottle with water in the center of the cake. This will keep the cake extra moist for a week or longer.

  • A slice of apple or potato under the cake plate dome will keep cake fresh. When you are slicing only a few pieces from a freshly-baked cake, take the slices from the center then slide the two halves together. The cake will stay fresh longer.

  • Attach a slice of bread, with toothpicks, to cut the edge of a cake. This will keep the cake fresh until it is cut again.

  • If you’re running low on flour, substitute fine bread crumbs, plain or toasted, for all or part of the flour in cookies.

  • Cookie dough that is to be rolled is much easier to handle after it has been chilled 10 to 30 minutes. This keeps the dough from sticking, even though it may be soft.

  • Sliced cookies from refrigerator dough will always be perfectly shaped if you freeze the dough in small frozen juice cans or plastic wrap cartons.

  • When rolling out dough on wax paper, aluminum foil or plastic wrap, wet the surface of the counter before smoothing the paper down and the water will keep the paper in place.

  • Don’t ruin a pan of cookies. Always bake one cookie first, even when using a familiar recipe, because the moisture content of the flour can vary greatly.

  • When sprinkling sugar on cookies, use a salt shaker or empty spice container.

  • Save meat trays and freeze muffins, cookies, portions, or slices of cake on them. They can be stacked neatly in the freezer without crushing or crumbling.

  • For better pie crusts, make certain all ingredients are cold and do not overwork the dough. Cover the dough and refrigerate before rolling out.

  • To roll out pastry, use two squares of wax paper that have been lightly floured. Roll out the pie crust dough between these sheets. When the pie crust is the correct size, peel off the top sheet of wax paper; invert over the pie plate and peel off the bottom layer of paper.

  • To get a neat finish of tart or pie molds, always roll a wider round than the circumference of the mold, so that it will fit right to edge after pressing into the mold. Flute edge by pinching and lifting, to give a wave design if desired. But make sure you work on a cold surface, like marble, granite, etc.

  • Keep a small plastic bag handy while making pie crust, kneading bread, or mixing meatloaf. Use it to slip your hand into if you have to answer the phone, doorbell, or open the refrigerator or cupboard door.

  • The pastry will be flakier if you include one tbsp. orange or lemon juice as part of the liquid.

  • To prevent a pie shell from blistering, place a few slices of bread in it before baking. Remove bread during the last few minutes of baking time. The bread can be used for croutons in the soup.

  • To prevent the bottom pie crust from becoming soggy, grease pie plate with butter before putting in the dough. The crust will be soft and flaky.

  • Sprinkle sugar on the pie crust before adding the cream filling. This will prevent a soggy crust.

  • Minute Tapioca is excellent for thickening fruit pies — two tbsp. for a small pie and three tbsp. For a larger, deeper fruit pie.

  • Short pieces of drinking straws inserted into the center of a pie will stop the juices from escaping or running over in your oven.

  • Place a layer of marshmallows at the bottom of the pumpkin pie. The marshmallows will rise to the top, forming a fluffy topping.

  • The meringue will not shrink if spread on the pie so that the meringue touches all edges of the pie crust.

  • Always bake a two-crust pie on the bottom shelf of the oven. They will bake the bottom thoroughly and the pie will brown lightly on top.

  • For fluffy meringue, add 1/4 tsp. white vinegar to three egg whites.

  • To keep the edge of a pie crust from getting too brown or burnt, cut out the center of a foil pan to the exact size of the pie that you are baking and place it over the pie just as soon as it begins to darken.

  • To remove chiffon pie from the pie plate with graham cracker crust intact, dip pan in warm water for a few seconds.

  • Use a buttered knife to slice soft pies easily.

  • To get rid of the smell of eggs in the cakes, add one tablespoon honey to the cake batter while beating it as it will make the taste better, too!

  • Coarse bran may be used in place of chopped nuts when making chocolate brownies.

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Simmi Kamboj

Simmi Kamboj is the Founder and Administrator of Ritiriwaz, your one-stop guide to Indian Culture and Tradition. She had a passion for writing about India's lifestyle, culture, tradition, travel, and is trying to cover all Indian Cultural aspects of Daily Life.

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