Everything a home cook needs to know about baking

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Baking is one of the most popular kitchen activities that can be enjoyed by just about anyone.

Baking is cooking dry or wet ingredients at a specific temperature in an oven or on a stove-top and then producing finished products.

There are many different recipes for bread, cakes, cookies, pies, and other baked goods passed down over generations. The creativity behind baking leaves room for family heirlooms and personal taste to show through in your food creation. 

As a home baker, you have to get used to the old-fashioned tools like bowls, baking sheets, and rolling pins first to create your baked masterpiece. But, of course, it doesn’t end there, as you can also use many modern tools, like mixers, for your creations. 

The process can be tedious, but it’s also super rewarding when you see your final product come together.

Essential tools you need for baking

As I believe in learning things from the ground up, it is vital to know the essential tools of the trade. They are not complicated, and you don’t need to spend a lot of money on them. 

To be able to do most of the baking recipes, you will need the following bakeware:

  • Baking tools like wooden or rubber spatula. Measuring cups and measuring spoons. Whisk and a cake scraper if you plan on baking cakes. 
  • Baking sheets will act as the base of your baking. They are mainly used as a carrier for parchment paper but can also serve as a water holder. This techniques is slightly advanced and used, for example, while making a New York-style cheesecake. The water around the cake pan is used as a bain-marie by keeping the temperature lower and providing a more even cooking temperature for the cake. 
  • Mixing bowls well for mixing ingredients. From my experience, you will need at least two, but more is better, especially if you bake regularly. I usually use at least 5 of them in any recipe, as I need to mix ingredients separately. 
  • An oven-proof casserole is nice to have for baking many things, like mac and cheese, bread, buns, cakes, and so on. The material used in the casserole can be non-stick, ceramic, or made out of glass. They are not necessary, but a nice thing to have. 
  • Cake pans are used for filling with batter to make a cake. They are coming in all kinds of shapes and sizes. It’s up to you what you prefer or think is best for the recipe. 

My favorite cake pans are classical round ones. A nicely round cake won’t offend anyone, so it is a fantastic fundamental choice. A quiche pan is also a classical thing to have in your kitchenware. With this super handy pan, you can easily make your favorite pie and quiche recipes.

If you don’t know what I am talking about, this picture might jumpstart your memory.

The wrinkly sides are a signature sign of a pie or quiche

Any other tool I would consider a luxury, at least in the beginning of your baking journey. 

It is not bad if you have anything extra and want to use it, but I would at least once tried to do things the old-fashioned way. Using your muscles and elbow grease to prep and cook. 

By that, I mean use a whisk to create snow from egg whites instead of making it in a mixing machine. I know it is more challenging, but you should know what goes into baking and how things change with every step and move. 

It greatly helps if you master the basics and then move on to more fancy things.

If you find the thought of doing all these don’t seem to be appealing, it is alright. Not everything in baking is glamorous as laying the thin slices of strawberry on a snow-white cake topping. 

Sometimes it will be hard. Sometimes you will fail. Sometimes the final result won’t look like the picture. 

But every single time, you will learn something new, and next time you will be building on these experiences, and it will be better. 

Baking appliances

Of course, you will need an appliance to bake your creations. The gold standard that you can find these days in almost every household on the planet is the oven. This is a match made in heaven for virtually any type of baking.

You can make cakes, pizzas, mac and cheese, cookies, and many other goodies inside it. 

There are many different variations on the oven, but showing and explaining them all deserves its article. 

Here I can say that it is a big box powered by electricity in most cases, that has ample space inside itself and can produce heat over 400°F (200°C). This is extremely helpful in any baking recipe, and you will need a high temperature for a long time.

But at the beginning, I have mentioned appliances as a multiple. As I have a separate article for all of them, I would like to say two alternatives here. 

The first is baking stones and the second hot ashes. I consider both options advanced, as you need quite an extensive amount of experience to pull them off successfully. 

You most likely won’t start with them, but it is good to know that they exist. 

Basic baking ingredients

Every home baker needs to have a basic set of baking ingredients in their home. You will need flour, sugar, milk, unsalted butter, and eggs. These are the great starter items that you will use in most recipes. 

If you’re baking bread or sweet treats like cupcakes or cakes, you will also need extracts of your favorite flavors. 

You can get extracts in any store that sells baking supplies. This is a convenient thing to have, as you can easily adjust your favorite cake recipes to be the way you want them in taste. 

For example, if you don’t like chocolate, but you like vanilla cakes, omit the chocolate and add more vanilla extract. Of course, this change cannot be made in all recipes like; you cannot exchange the chocolate for something else if you are making a chocolate cake, but you catch my drift. 

How to store your baking supplies

It is imperative to know how to store your ingredients before you even start baking. It can make the difference between a delicious dessert and a major disaster. 

For example, when you store flour, you have to put it back in the airtight container, cut off the amount you plan to use, and leave the rest in a dry place with no humidity. This is a crucial step to prevent any fungus or bacteria in your flour.

It’s the same with sugar. It has to be stored back in its original package or airtight container, nipped off what you want to use, and left in a dry place with no humidity. 

Dairy products should be kept in the plastic wrap and refrigerator. It is vital to keep them away from any light as this can cause spoilage. 

As for butter and eggs, they should be kept in the fridge. Then, every time you need a bit, you can take them out and leave them on the counter for a little while. 

For baking tools, you have to keep them in a cool and dry place. It is also crucial to make sure that the tools don’t have any rust on them. 

If there is rust, you should get rid of it using a towel with a little bit of vinegar to rub the rust off. After that, you can wipe it with some paper towels and let it dry. 

Baking tools should also be kept in a dry place to prevent rust from appearing again. You can avoid rusting by using vinegar. 

As with everything in cooking, you are only as good as your tools are. It is all about maintenance. Keep them clean and in good condition. 

I hope this article helped you to understand the basics of baking. However, check out my article here if you are interested in a general overview of all home cooking techniques and skills.  

Did I miss something? Would you add anything? Do you have any questions related to baking? If so, please do let me know in the comments below. 

Until next time I wish you successful baking. 

Vojta Vevera

Combining a love for cooking and using all kinds of technological gizmos helps Vojta to bring the experiences and excitement to all his articles. He is always doing his best to serve you with great information. Mixing over 15 years of cooking experience with his analytical mind and love for all technological things.

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