Before starting in the kitchen, any cook should know some baking basics. The following may bring to mind a long-forgotten essential ingredient to your success. These are just a few that came to my mind before we start heating up our ovens again. Yes, it will be cool soon.

  • Always use fresh ingredients, particularly baking powder.
  • Use whites of grade A large eggs in most recipes (unless stated otherwise).
  • Be sure margarine, egg whites, and egg substitutes are at room temperature before using.
  • Measure accurately: Use clear glass measures for liquid ingredients; place on the counter at eye level to check accuracy. For dry ingredients, use nests of plastic or metal cups; level off with dull edge of knife. (Level off measuring spoons the same way.) Spoon flour lightly into cups – never pack before leveling.
  • Verify accuracy of your oven temperature; it may vary as much as 50o F either way. Best bet: an independent oven thermometer hung from the oven shelf.
  • Do not make cookies based on a mixture of egg whites and sugar (such as Mocha Meringue Clouds or Lemon-Lime Meltaways or Forgotton Cookies) on a humid day.
  • For short-term storage of cookies, follow instructions in your particular recipe. All may be frozen for longer storage. After cooling, do not fill or decorate cookies; place in airtight containers and freeze up to 3 months. Decorate or fill cookies just before serving.
  • I have found some new “best friends” while working in the kitchen:
  • Parchment paper and/or freezer paper – spread on the counter before measuring your ingredients and you just roll the paper up when finished and your counter stays clean.
  • Bakers Joy is a spray that includes oil and flour at one time – great for preparing your baking pans for cake mixes, etc.

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