Saturday, April 16, 2011

Baking Tips for Scones, Muffins, Cakes, Biscuits and Puddings

Over the years I have been living in Australia, Australian's Women's Weekly has been my guide providing useful information in recipes and cooking techniques.  I have found some useful information from one if its cookbook, "Mix" featuring classic to modern recipes in cakes, muffins, biscuits and puddings.  As I don't have baking recipes hand-down from grandmother as such, I have so much failure in baking that nearly put me off from baking.  It's only the sweet tooth keeps me to learn and search for better recipes and cooking technique.  I am not the best cook but I enjoy cooking as I believe food can bring people together.  If I find more useful information in the future, I will add more into this page.  If you know your oven, there will be more success, too.  Happy Baking!

Baking Tips

Scones - scones need a light touch, a cool kitchen and cold hands.  The quicker mixing the liquid into the dry ingredients, the lighter the scones.  When the recipes says using a knife to "cut" the liquid through the dry ingredients means don't stir.  Use the knife quickly and lightly draw the knife through the flour, so the dry ingredients are moistened as lightly as possible to prevent overworking which causes tough scones.

For soft scones, bake in a cake pan and for crunchy scones, use an oven tray.  It is cooked if it sounds hollow when tapped firmly on the top with fingers

Muffins and Friands - muffins become stodgy if the mixture is over mixed because it uses less oil.  For light muffins, barely mix the liquid into the dry ingredients and take no notice of the lumps.  Friands are made by egg white and almond meal, it is simple to make but it is best to be eaten on the day they're made.  To test if it is cooked, press lightly on to the top and if it feels springy, it is ready.

Cakes - cake should be mixed with electric beaters starting from low speed then increase to medium when the mixture is combined.  To test the cake is cooked, inset a skewer into the cake.  If it comes out clean, the cake is ready.  Generally, I always beat butter and sugar first till light and fluffy, then add in eggs and followed by the rest of dry ingredients.  Some cake recipes use melted butter and beat everything together such as cake using cooking chocolate.  For featherlight cakes such as sponge cake and chiffon cake, you need to separate eggs and beat the egg yolks and egg whites in different lots.  To remove bubbles from the cake mixture, gently tap the cake pan onto the bench.

Biscuits and Slices- if the mixture is not over beaten, biscuits should have the right shape and texture.  The longer the biscuits in the oven, the crunchy they are.  To test if a biscuit is cooked, push it gently with your finger, it is ready if it moves without breaking while it is still on the oven tray.  Biscuits will harden once they are cooled down.  Always cool slices in the pan before cutting into shapes.

Puddings - puddings can be boiled, steamed or baked, some come with self-saucing, some serve with separate sauce and some serve cold.

  1. Boiled puddings are made with ingredients that take a long time to cook and it would not turn out well if the water ceases to boil.  Drop the pudding into boiling water if it is in a cloth or place boiling water 1/2 filled the saucepan if it is in a basin.  Keep a supply of boiling water to replace any water that has evaporated and do not lift the lid often.
  2. Steamed puddings are for light spongy puddings.  Puddings should be covered by lids or baking paper.  Water must be kept gently boiling all the time and half way up the side of the basin.  Do not remove the lid any more than necessary.  Otherwise, the pudding may turn heavy and uncooked.
  3. Baked pudding are milk puddings require slow and gentle cooking.  It is important to keep the oven at the right temperature.  Some puddings require to stand the dish in a large roasting tin of water.

Note: Further information on puddings are gathered from The CWA (Country Women's Association) Cookbook, 70 Years in the Kitchen

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