At CAB Foods we seriously cherish bakers. We watch in awe and wonder as the modern, Instagram baker creates cakes directly ordered via fantasy land, and we particularly treasure the traditional generation of bakers who do it the way Ouma Lahoud used to… with lots of love and elbow grease.
The truth is, although baking gadgets have never been cooler, or sprinkles more sparkly, there are a lot of fundamental baking rules that have remained steadfast throughout the generations, and will do so until the last slice of cake leaves the proverbial table. This is because baking is effectively a science, and as a science, has laws. So, whether your special forte is melktert, unicorn cupcakes or contemporary edible art, mastering the science of baking by following these basic laws of science will give you direct access to a world of joy, creativity and tastes beyond your wildest imagination.
CAB’s First Law of Baking: The right ingredients equal the right results
Egg sizes range from jumbo to small. Always use large size eggs unless the recipe specifies otherwise.
As a rule, eggs should be stored in the refrigerator. If a recipe calls for eggs at room temperature, allow approximately 2 hours for chilled eggs to become ambient. This can also be speeded up slightly by placing eggs in warm (not hot) water.
A chemical reaction between alkaline and acid components within a recipe is necessary to make batter rise as you bake it, this is where ingredients like baking powder and baking soda come to your aid. Failing to add a raising agent, or using one that has expired will most certainly lead to a disappointing result. Luckily the efficacy of baking powder and baking soda can be easily tested:
Place a teaspoon of baking powder in some warm water. If it is fresh it will foam and bubble quite actively.
Place a teaspoon of baking soda in a small bowl and add a tablespoon of vinegar. If the mixture fizzes the baking soda is still good.
Note that baking powder cannot be substituted for baking soda in a recipe. They are not the same thing.
Spreads cannot act as a substitute for butter or margarine. If the first ingredient on the product label is water, don’t use it for baking. Spreads that are less than 60% fat have a lot of water included and will make cookies spread too thin or otherwise mess up recipes.
Always use margarine that is at least 80 percent fat if you need a substitute for butter. However, for best results, stick to proper unsalted butter if the recipe calls for butter.
CAB’s Second Law of Baking: Accuracy is directly proportionate to success
Don’t mess with the ratios of a tried and tested recipe. Baking, as opposed to cooking, is not just a matter of taste. The correct ingredients, carefully measured, mixed and baked at the correct temperature and time will yield a perfect result. Don’t compromise the product of your labour with sloppy measuring or skipping steps.
Dry ingredients should be measured in flat topped measuring cups. Fill them to the top and then level off the extra with a palette knife. Liquid ingredients are measured in a scored measuring jug. To read the amount of content, place the jug on a flat surface and bring your eyes level to the surface of the liquid. It’s easy to read incorrectly if you only hold the jug at an angle in the air.
Tableware spoons and tea cups differ in size and should therefore not be used for measuring accurately.
CAB’s Third law of Baking: Future achievement derives from current care
Respecting and caring well for your baking equipment not only leads to a better result, but also saves you money in the long run. Keep your pans and utensils clean and store them away from moisture between uses. After baking, wash your baking pans and place them in the oven at a low temperature to thoroughly dry out before putting them away. This will help prevent rust.
Use baking paper to protect the surface of cookie sheets and baking pans from getting burn marks.
Reusable piping bags and nozzles must be cleaned immediately after use to avoid bacterial growth and lingering flavours. Soap and warm water is effective, but some bakers recommend freezing piping bags for an hour after use. The leftover icing cracks off completely when you turn the frozen bag inside out.
CAB’s Fourth Law of Baking: Thermal balance is found in central space
For best results always bake in the middle of your oven as this is where the temperature is most controlled.
Avoid cooling your cake or cookies on a plate or any other flat surface. A wire cooling rack is far better for this purpose as it allows steam to escape from all sides of the baked product, so the bottom doesn’t get soggy. Preferably use a cooling rack with closely spaced wires so cookies have adequate support when cooling.
CAB’s Ultimate Law of Baking: Baking must bring joy
As the famous baker, Anna Olsen puts it, “Baking may be regarded as a science, but it’s the chemistry between the ingredients and the cook that gives desserts life. Baking is done out of love, to share with family and friends, to see them smile.”
Whether you are just starting out on a journey of baking, or have been your family’s master baker for decades, CAB Foods is there to ensure everything you need is at your fingertips. You’ll love our range of innovative products and tools, ideal to help you achieve genius level baking results every time.