This article is for those at-home bakers who have had their cakes fall flat, their cookie batches burn or their loaves of bread resemble a brick. It is for those who have given up baking altogether, feeling they lack a natural knack necessary to successfully complete a recipe (they don’t). While it is true some people appear to have an ingrained talent for creating perfect pastries, it really comes down to more than that. In fact, what all these no-doubt talented bakers have in common is a general knowledge base about baking. Remember, knowledge is power.

This better baking skills guide gives you the power to bake like a professional from your very own kitchen. Remember that each tip and trick really isn’t optional if you are looking for a top-quality result from your recipe. Also keep in mind that many recipes take for granted a certain level of baking knowledge and will not provide these tips and tricks.

1. Your Baking Base

Your baking base, or in baking terms, dry mix, is literally the basis of your baking project. Care and attention need to be paid. For instance, if you are looking for a light and fluffy base, you need to sift all the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, etc. Seems simple enough, right? Well, yes. This step is so simple that it is most often overlooked as optional. If you’re on the fence about whether this step is worth the extra time, try the exact same recipe with and without sifting your flour. The decision will be clear thereafter.

2. Your Wet Mix

The wet mix can contain a number of different ingredients, depending on the recipe. However, there are a few baking basics that always apply: you need to dissolve your sugar into your oil; you need to make sure in vegan baking that whatever your egg substitute is, it is well whipped so air pockets can emerge; your wet mix needs to be fully combined before mixing with the dry mix. As a last tip, remember that vinegar, usually about 1 teaspoon per recipe, will help make your dough rise.

3. Bake Times

Bake times vary by recipe, oven, season and more. This is why most recipes have a range of bake times, rather than a strictly set time. For instance, a recipe may call for a bake time between 20-25 minutes. If you’re unsure about bake times, follow these few tips: the more liquid your recipe has, the longer bake time needed; cookies will typically harden up considerably after being taken from the oven, so always under-bake them slightly to avoid a crunchy, crumbly mess; hotter months call for shorter bake times.

4. Oils

Believe it or not, many recipes just call for “oil”— they don’t specify which type works best in which recipe or which you should use. This can create a host of problems in recipes. Don’t let choosing the wrong oil be what compromises the quality of your final product. Start here by reading up on different types of natural oils, their benefits and uses. This will help clarify which oils work best with which method of baking.

The satisfaction of baking one’s own bread, cake, muffins and more cannot be matched. Not only do you get exactly what you want, you get to know exactly what’s in it, too. Of course, the great feelings tend to diminish when the baked good doesn’t turn out. Avoid the disappointment by following this guide to better baking basics. Now that you’ve read the basics, check out The Green Monster Vegan Baking Guide and try your hand at these Baked Blueberry Donuts.

Image source:Baked Blueberry Donuts