Dec 13, 20174015 views

[Ongoing] Baking Questions & Answers

On Massdrop, you can find enthusiasts of all levels within any given community. There are beginners who are just starting out and experts who really know their stuff. Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum, you should always be able to find answers to your questions within the community.
BAKING Knowing your way around the kitchen often includes being well versed with the oven. When it comes to being a proficient baker of breads, pastries, pies, cakes, and more, honing your skills can be a long road. Whether you need help with your baked goods or you have some great tips to share, you’ve come to the right place.
ASK QUESTIONS Looking for a great chocolate chip cookie recipe? Want to start making your own banana bread at home, but don’t know where to start? Need to figure what a Dutch oven is, why you need one, and how to use it?
The best way to find the answers to your questions is to ask the community. There are members who are experts in pretty much every area of cooking you can imagine, and they can help you go from beginner to pro.
Ask your question/s by posting in the discussion below.
GIVE ANSWERS Many of you in the community know a lot about baking and have great information to share. We encourage you to help out anyone who has questions!

Want to start your own discussion? Click here:

john.yu, evan.kahn, and 7 others

Hey everyone! I'm new to baking, but a pretty experienced cook. I just purchased a Kitchenaid Pro 600 stand-up mixer, so I'm really excited to get into it. What are some great resources to start with as far as learning how to bake? I'd love to bake breads, rolls (dinner and sweet), and of course all kinds of desserts. Related to that, I don't have much in the way of baking pans go--I have an 8x8 and 9x13 Pyrex, and that's pretty much it. What are your beginning "essentials" as far as baking pans and other kitchen tools go? Thanks so much!
For a complete reference, here: For something more succinct and beginner-friendly: A good kitchen scale. Not every recipe will have weight measures, but you can always convert, or use recipes with weights listed. It's much more accurate and consistent. Mixing bowls in small, medium, and large sizes, if you don't have any. I recommend a few Pyrex and a few stainless steel. Pie plate (Pyrex) Good metal whisk (none of that silicone-coated stuff) 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup Plain, stainless steel measuring spoons Offset spatula Muffin/cupcake tin Silpat GIR spatulas - I cannot bake (or cook) effectively without these Since you cook, you may have some of these, but figured I'd mention anyway. A lot of your supplies will depend on what you bake (bread? cookies? jack of all trades?) as well and you will probably find yourself buying things on the fly if you get into it.
Oh, and for resources: any book by Rose Levy Berenbaum (The Baking Bible, The Cake Bible). How Baking Works for baking science. Jim Lahey bread books. BraveTart by Stella Parks because she is a baking genius.
Hey y'all!
We have our winners for the discussion giveaway! Congrats to the following people: · Seth M. - Emile Henry Rectangular Baker · @LeCheffre - USA Bakeware 4-Piece Set · Sid P. - Combekk Railway Dutch Oven
The giveaway is over, but the discussion is not. If you have a question or an answer in regards to baking then feel absolutely free to keep the conversation going. Thanks to all for participating.
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Got my Bakeware 4-piece set. They are INCREDIBLE. Heavy duty, non-stick to 450 in the oven, the sheets don't warp in the oven... crisp bottoms on some low carb slider buns I made. Thank you, Massdrop. I highly recommend USA Bakeware.
Sweet! Show off the *buns, man! #nosoggybottoms
*Slider buns, specifically.
This is a question for making fat and tall fluffy pancakes. These are more like the Japanese style ones. I wanted to know what are the cookie cutter like tools you would use when applying them on a pan? This way the pancakes are tall yet fluffy. Let me know. I'd greatly appreciate it.
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Thanks for the suggestion. I appreciate it.
Hi, I think you may know but please dismiss if so and regard this comment for those who are interested in making Japanese style pancakes. Japanese pancakes (they call them "hotcakes," a term that also is used in the US to differentiate between the flatter flapjack and pancake) are literally "cakes," either starting or ending in the pan, but the leavening process mostly occurring in the oven. Depending on how tall you want each pancake to be, say if its 1~2 inches tall, it can be done simply by putting the pan in the oven. If taller pancakes are desired, then you will need the molds, but at this point you are pretty much baking a cake, not a fluffy mochiko-batter flap jack.
When I make just a simple bread I always end up with dense end product. What are some things that I can do to get lighter softer bread?
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Know this was a while ago, but in reading the answers, I just wanted to put in my 2¢ worth. Higher hydration (think a little more liquid or less flour) would help. As to the "just water, flour, salt and yeast," that's not bad, but remember that some sugar and fat/dairy make a loaf that will last a little longer--sugar is "hygroscopic" (holds water) and fat just keeps it soft longer. Depending on where you live, the idea of using all purpose flour may or may not be a good idea. I live at a high altitude and need the extra gluten/structure in a bread flour.
Have any changes you've made made a difference?
Unless you post the exact recipe and methodology you are using, everyone can only speculate and write off the many, many things that can alter you end product.
By saying "simple bread," I am going to assume the ingredients are only flour, water, salt, and yeast. I am also going to assume you are making an "artisan bread," since a "lighter, softer bread" with just those ingredients can be a bit difficult.
Most of the replies given to you will help. I just wanted to add on that even before you make your dough, you can make a starter. This will ensure that your flour is as hydrated as it can get, which will vastly change your outcome than adding in flour or water during or after mixing, which should be for very small adjustments depending on the environment, not for tweaking. Here is random site on two common starters:
Also, just wondering, did you check your yeast? I apologize if you already know, but a reminder that yeast is a living thing and will go flat. Here is random site on how to check your yeast:
Additionally, the temperature of your water can and will alter your dough (and your yeast). Dense means that your dough may be too cold (should be around 72F out of the mixer) and/or isn't proofing enough.
Finally, although it is difficult to do at home, artisan breads need steam to fully leaven and develop a crust. This can be done by making your starting oven temperature higher than on the recipe, then spraying water onto the dough.
Anyways, it's best to post your recipe at the very least since there are so many things that can alter your result, and usually its a combination of things instead of just one issue.
Can anyone give me a great cookie recipe for the Holidays that is easy to make and tastes great!
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Thanks Josh
These do look good! Gotta try them.
I went to Paris last year and they have amazing crepes. Anyone has a crepe recipe that can share ?
I love crepes, too. Most of the ones I've had in the US and here in Hawaii are more eggy and floppy, unlike the ones I've had in France which are more floury and crisper if that makes sense, they are fantastic. But, my favorites are the buckwheat galettes I've had in Normandy which have a nuttier, more crisp texture, super good. These are the two recipes I use for regular crepes and the buckwheat galettes. There are arguments on needing to let the batter rest or not, but for me, I like to let it rest to get rid of the air bubbles in the batter (I let mine sit in the fridge overnight.) I almost always eat savory crepes and add salt to the batters but that's optional. You can also add things like herbs to the batter as well. One thing I really like doing is after pouring the batter into the pan and spreading it out, I add shredded cheese to the top of it. When it's flipped over to cook the 2nd side, the cheese crisps up and adds a nice texture to the outside of the crepe. Anyway, the fun part is experimenting and seeing what works for you.
2 large eggs 3/4 cup milk 1/2 cup water 1 cup flour 3 tablespoons melted butter Butter for coating the pan
In a blender, combine all of the ingredients and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.

This is the recipe I use for Buckwheat crepes. Got this from the Serious Eats website.
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons Buckwheat flour 3/4 cup All purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt 1 Large egg 1 1/4 cups Whole milk 1 1/3 cups) Water Butter, for cooking
INSTRUCTIONS: To prepare the batter: Whisk dry ingredients to combine. In a large bowl, whisk the water, milk and egg until blended. Then slowly whisk in the flours and salt, until you get a smooth, silky batter. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, but preferably overnight.
PREPARATION: Heat crepe pan or a small non-stick skillet. Add butter to coat. Pour 1 ounce of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread evenly. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and remove to the cutting board. Lay them out flat so they can cool. Continue until all batter is gone. After they have cooled you can stack them and store in sealable plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to two months. When using frozen crepes, thaw on a rack before gently peeling apart.
Fantastic, answer! Useful information, with recipes. I'm going to try both of your recipes. Thanks for your input.
Would anyone have a simple (but tasty) recipe or a link to one for a sugar free cake or pecan pie? My wife is diabetic and unfortunately I'm not baking savvy. Thank you in advance.
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Thank you Tesshan.
I have a favorite cookbook for deserts that are sugar free, it is put out by EQUAL.. Both my husband and myself are diabetic. Also if you go to Splenda site online, can find good recipes
Hi, I have very little knowledge in cooking. I'm not also familiar with the tools used in cooking. Could you recommend what are the must-have items/tools for getting started?
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Victorinox Fibrox Pro is my chef’s knife of choice. $30 on Amazon.
I wouldn't say shun are bad so much as over priced. Decent knives
What is the purpose of adding alcohol to baked goods? It’s just a general question of why it’s better use booze than plain water. Does it make a difference in the overall texture, taste or etc?
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In addition to what others have said, vodka boils and steams more violently than water, which results in a lighter pie crust.
No purpose really...(but don't let that out)!
Does anyone have some good methods for sealing calzones that looks good? I started making them weekly from scratch a couple months ago. I've pretty much gotten them to taste exactly how I wanted, but they could use a little improvement in how they look(brushed egg really gives them a nice golden color).
What is a good resource/website/YouTube channel to learn how to bake?
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I forgot about this blog.... Joy Wilson's site, better known as Joy the Baker, another fantastic baking resource blog.
If you're interested in bread: Recommended by the biggest breadhead I've ever known.
If you're interested in pastries: Stella is amazing. The Kenji Lopez-Alt of pastries. Total nerd in the best way.
If you're interested in cakes: I point to Cake Mix Doctor, because cake mixes have all manner of chemical enhancements that improve the cake, both in terms of moist crumb and overall rise, that are not easily available to home cooks. There are thousands of ways to alter cake mix, from scratch frosting to changing the fats (Portillos in Chicago makes a very much lauded cake that uses Duncan Hines with mayonnaise as the fat, as an example) and the hydration ratio). Why kill yourself to make a cake from scratch when you can doctor a mix and come out with a better result.
What is A Combekk Rail road duch oven? I love my Dutch oven's that I use for camping .i'd like to find out more about these railroad Dutch oven's I like the idea of the thermometer, any help?
Im planning on attempting to make a sourdough starter? Any advice for success? Also what recipie is a good basic sourdough bread? Do i need any apecial cookware to make it? Thanks, and happy hollidays!
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I should add, I figured out the problem I was having with my starter and oven spring wasn't the starter. Pictures 1-4 were 100% levain breads. Picture 5 had a small amount of instant yeast added. Wrong yeast was the problem. Figured it out when a pan pizza didn't quite rise as much as it should, using no starter, just yeast. Did the maths backward, and low and behold, the problem was the instant yeast, not the wild yeast starter.
I should add something else on the romantic notions of some folks upthread. You don't need bottled water, or filtered water. You just need time. Don't trust me. Trust the Myrhvold people who have spent years working on this.
Of course, all my breads above were made with hard tap water and time.
What's your favorite Pizza Dough recipe? Mine is Pete Reinharts, but with an added tablespoon of local honey.
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So i have been working my butt off for days and I simply get no result. I tried trying again from scratch and even watching video instructions, but nothing works.
Does anyone know how to improve light bakes in unity? It's so annoying having to wait for so long just to see a poor result!
Not sure if fluffy biscuits, or ambient occlusion lol. 🤔
I want to try my hand at making some crossiants, is there a idiot proof recipe/method?
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I’ve made croissants and it’s a straightforward thing to make. The tricky part is when you laminate it. I suggest you have a large work space and maybe watch a video on how to do it if you are confused.
I saw a suggestion online that you indent lightly on the side to show how may folds you have made.
The only recipe that I have used are from the Tartine cookbook. It’s probably more complicated than it has to be but I like how it turned out.
Its allot of work but but it’s worth it.
A friend of mine took a class at Sur La Table cookware shop and they were devine.
Does anyone know a good substitute for backing powder?
Use a 1:2 ratio baking soda : cream tartar.
Example For 1 teaspoon of baking powder 1/4 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Does someone know a good recipe for homemade sausage? I would really like to make some for the holidays.
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I don't have a recipe per se, but a recommendation for Ruhlman's Charcuterie: I've made fresh sausage in a class, which was entertaining, but I didn't love the result, so I don't have the recipe we used. There are thousands of combinations of pork, fat and spices + time + process for sausage, and that's before you get to beef and other animals.
If you're looking for a fairly straightfoward fresh italian sausage,
Thank you very much!
I'm looking for a good method/recipe for turning leftover sourdough into tasty croutons. I think most commercial croutons start life as relatively fluffy white bread, but my sourdough is a bit tougher (denser?) and so my attempts in the past have led to very hard to chew croutons. Hit me with your tips!
Ooh, good one - I ran into the same issue, and I hate croutons that are either dry bread foam or semi-edible rocks. The trick I've found to work best is to take your loaf of sourdough and tear it by hand into irregular, crouton-sized pieces. Throw the pieces into a large mixing bowl, drizzle with olive oil - enough so that each croutons gets a touch of oil and won't stick to your pan, but not so much that you're going to end up with essentially fried breadcrumbs - salt and pepper to taste, and if you want, a sprinkle of herbs de Provence (or fresh herbs and garlic if you really want to go for it). Go ahead and distribute evenly on a baking sheet (or mix right on the baking sheet, it's just fine).
When you bake it, set the temperature about as low as your oven goes - 250 or 300 F is where you want to be. Cook and check every few minutes. They'll continue to dry out and cook on the pan for a few minutes after you take them out, so pull them when they still have some soft chew and are crusty around the edges. It's better to pull then too early, as you can always give them another few minutes in the oven. They should store just fine for a week or so in a sealed bag or container.
Good luck!
Nice one, thanks I'll try this!
The mention of pizza stones above reminds me: I had a pizza stone once, and oil/grease soaked into it and turned rancid and I wound up throwing it away. What was I doing wrong? Was it just that the stone was too cheap?
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You can always grab a pizza steel and not worry about any of that
I would guess that you were leaking some oil onto the think. Burning it off will produce smoke, so it's generally better to keep the oil off it, unless you use it on your grill.
Parchment paper would be a good way to keep your stone clean. But steels work better and are nigh indestructible if you use them according to directions...
TIP: If you need to measure with a scale, sometimes it's easier to 'Reverse Measure'
METHOD: To do this, place the item you're using on the scale, zero the scale, then when you take the ingredient, the scale will go into the negatives. If you need 500g, simply take the ingredient until the scale shows -500g.
RESULT: This method works in all situations but it works best if you need to place dry ingredients into wet ones where it is hard to 'recover' the ingredient if you add too much - in this method you do the recovery when you take the ingredient, not when you place it.
I measure the liquids in their own container before mixing with dry ingredients. Keeps you from adding more than you need.
What's your favorite holiday treat to bake? Personally there's a fudge recipe that I love making, in part because it's extremely simple and fast, although because of how fast it is to make, you also have to be quick at the end as you take it off the heat. Basically it requires sugar, butter(sorry I don't have the measurements at the moment) and a small can of condensed milk. Heat all those together and let them bubble for a while on medium heat, maybe 10 minutes give or take. Take it all off and be ready to quickly mix in nestle semi sweet morsels(I think 7oz maybe), once that's well mixed quickly mix in ~7oz of marshmallow fluff. Mix it all up well before the heat dissipates and then poor it into a pan to cool, it should lead to about enough for the average brownie pan. A very similar recipe I believe can be found on Jet puff or maybe the nestle morsels bag, a few things are different though in the one I follow, other than what is left out in the ingredients above.
Edit for actual ingredients list: 2/3 cup butter or margarine 3 cups sugar 5oz Evaporated milk(goofed up above it's not condensed) 7-8oz Marshmallow fluff/creme(the latter was written in the recipe) 10-12oz of semi sweet morsels The minis work great for melting and found 10oz may possibly make them come out less dry, hard to say as I added the variable of them being minis instead.
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From a quick google image search that actually looks pretty cool, and like it can come out quite festive looking.
Exactly why I make it allot every holiday season.
Anyone have a really good Christmas dessert recipe that's gluten-free AND relatively low in carbs (besides fruit, haha)? Looking to serve about eight at a small potluck. My guess is that the best option will be something eggy and/or custard-y ...
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Dark chocolate peanut butter balls. They're AMAZING.
Awesome! Thanks!
I have been working on my sourdough baking recently. I have been composting excess starter, but it seems like a waste. Does anyone have any tips or suggestions for how to utilize this leftover starter?
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My go to is usually making pretzels with them.
Okay... this I want to know about. Please do tell.
Bostock talk. Or caneles, as I believe they are properly/originally known. If I don't have your attention yet, then you haven't had a good bostock yet! I met my first in a cafe (Duo) near my office, where all of the baked goods are scratch made, and have a very refined presentation. Then I had a different interpretation of the same, at the food hall by Pusateri's inside Sak's (Sherway Gardens). both amazing, but how - oh how do I make my own?
I can't believe they are as tricky to make as Chez Pim suggests -, but perhaps they are. And really, do I need to get lined copper molds at $20ish/each? Silicone molds could do, and it's sounds like Pim offers the green light there. Has anyone perfected their own bostock/caneles at home? I just moved, and now have a electric oven with out convection, so am wondering how my madeleines will fair. But they used to be a hit, thanks to Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel.
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“Recipe yields 45...” I almost fell off my chair!!! Thanks @edlerberry, I’m going to look for some silicon molds. Well after a few more hours of research, both at chapters and online - yeah I know, might be overkill, but seems to be a bit of an investment in bakeware, if I’m not going to make fairly often. Interesting that beeswax is omitted, and I like the hints and guidance offered in the recipe, thanks.
Brown butter madelines, I’ll look em up. Bake on!
So I was in Yorkdale Mall, as I live in the GTA area (Canada), and there is a bakery who has caneles for sale. They are these tiny things, much smaller than I have had before. They were decent, but not amazing like the ones found at Duo in Thornhill. The exterior texture was a touch on the chewy side, but the flavour was good. Just wanted to pass this along, in case others wanted to have taste
Does anybody have a good Challah bread recipe they'd like to share? I'm starting smaller (biscuits and such), but excited to move onto bread soon.
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Here's a favourite of mine that I adapted from a classic old Canadian cookbook. Works every time, and a real crowd pleaser at a potluck or dinner party.
Little different route, but I really enjoy making Tsoureki, which is a greek style Challah with mastic and mahlepi, which give the bread a very light licorice flavor. I've made this every Easter for the past few years and its always a pretty big hit
Here's the recipe I use:
Fluffy biscuits? How do I make light fluffy breakfast biscuits? What do I use to get the 'lift' in the biscuit (is it all about baking soda)? Are there any recipes that are easy to make (i'm tired of canned @#$ biscuits)?
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Yes, bakers use scales to keep the ratios of everything where they need to be.
Also, the amount you knead can affect things too.
The important thing with biscuits, is the temperature of the butter - frozen chunks are best and cut them into the flour mixture with a few quick pulses of a food processor, or cut them in with a pastry blender. Also, the less you handle the dough the better, especially if you have very warm hands. Also the best biscuits are made with buttermilk.
Why do so many recipes call for "While Lilly" flour? Is it a regional thing or, is the flour really different some how?
White Lily is a brand of self rising flour that is milled to a finer degree than most making it closer to cake flour in baking. It is generally used to make lighter textures in things such as biscuits.
What do I need to make really good yeast dinner rolls? I don't have a good oven, actually no oven at the moment. Can I make them in my Breville 'Smart Oven'? Do I need any special pans or tins? Or special flour?
SidPost This is a pretty simple recipe for making dinner rolls. The smart oven should work fine for making them but you might have to do it in batches due to smaller size and you don't really need any particular pans or tins outside of an oven tray.
how do i bake so that i dont bake to much, when ever i bake to much comes out. IS their a good way to reduce the amount i bake?
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Best way I've found is just to cut the recipe in half. If that's too much, cut it in half again.
So I grew up thinking I was bad at math, then I we to cooking school and suddenly math made sense. So there is this little equation that will change your life or at least help you scale a recipe. Just remembe: new yield devided by old yield equals a conversion factor.
You then multiply the conversion factor by the amounts called for in the original recipe. This will give you new amounts for all the ingredients for your new sized batch So if you wanted to cut a recipe in half I know that is supper easy to do with out doing math but let’s go through the steps. if your recipe makes 3 dozen cookies and you want only 17 cookies: my/oy = cf 17/36=.47 then you multiply.47 by the original recipe amounts. So 3cups of sugar becomes 2 3/4 cups of sugar