I asked for an oven for my eleventh birthday, and you better believe I was ecstatic about it. I decided that the first thing I was gonna make, would be sugar cookies, all fancy like. In fact, I was so excited that I invited all my friends over too, so we could be MasterChefs together.
My mom ended up making the whole recipe for us, because I messed everything up royally. Heh.
You guys know that I bake now, and I do it pretty well too, but it wasn’t always like that, not even close. I have been through hordes and hordes of failed recipes before I understood baking the way I do now, and I’m still messing up!
In fact, the first time I made chocolate chip cookies, back in 2013, I was so confident. I had read the recipe hundreds of times and thought I knew everything there was to cookie-making. When they came out, well, that’s a whole different story. My dad and I threw those cookies from as high as we could, and THERE WASN’T EVEN A SCRATCH ON THEM. He decided to throw one at me, and it actually hurt. A LOT. We had this ongoing joke to sell them to the army, to use as weapons. So yeah, not good 🙈. They even looked like weapons, all black and scary. We call them ‘stone cookies’, and it makes for great story time material, but not great dessert.
As you can tell, I made a whole bunch of really stupid mistakes, and they’re actually very common. That’s why I’m going to share some of those with you so you can identify them and avoid them! Think flan, not failure.
1. Opening the oven door too often.
Curiosity killed the cat, and in this case, the cake. Literally. Now I speak from personal experience, because I’m a relatively impatient person. Do NOT open the oven door before your cake is set. It is almost guaranteed to give you a sunken, deflated cake. One time, I took a batch of cupcakes out of the oven and I swear, there was a hole in the middle so deep you would’ve thought I made the Mariana Trench. A trick that I actually use to tell whether my cake is set, is to hold the handle of the oven and shake the oven from outside. If the batter inside jiggles and wobbles, that means it’s still liquid and not set. If it doesn’t, that means you could take a peek inside because the batter is either solid or semi-solid and is stable enough to not fall flat immediately. However, it’s best to avoid opening the oven door in between baking completely.
2. Being a lazy mixer
Because I was not so bright I few years ago, (I can almost hear my friends saying “Was?!”) I decided to make sponge cake. With like, no baking experience. This called for me to whip the eggs for about 8-10 minutes. I was all like “Psh 2 will work”. 2 did not work. When you’re making recipes that call for ingredients to be whipped or beaten a lot, you better listen. Whipping incorporates air, which is why the volume of the ingredient rises so much. This air helps whatever you’re baking to be nice and fluffy, and if you slack off, it won’t work. Don’t be lazy.
3. Using cold ingredients
No no no no no. Unless your recipe SPECIFICALLY calls for chilled ingredients, please don’t use them. Especially with eggs and butter, you must make sure they are at room temperature, because they mix much more easily and ensure a nice soft cake (or whatever it is that you’re cooking up).
4. Cutting room temperature sugar cookie dough
This is the basis of my first baking disaster, which I mentioned at the start of this post. I know now that cutting corners never works, but I didn’t then. Sugar cookie dough HAS TO BE chilled before you cut it, otherwise it will stick and break and not work with you at all, and if it says two hours, you better chill it for two hours. Take it from me 🙈
Thank you for reading, and I hope you have nothing but baking success! Let me know if this helped, or if you have any tips to share with me. The comments section is all yours.
ThePastryPoet, signing off.