Baking can be an infuriating science, but the advantages far outweigh the headache. Fresh-baked cookies whenever you damn well please? Homemade pancakes to feed your hot date the day after? Girly, indulgent cupcakes in the privacy of your own home? All reasons you should learn to bake.
Especially when just starting out, there are many ingredients and pieces of equipment you won’t have, but, with these life-changing baking hacks, you won't need them. Give some of these a go next time you try your hand at baking. You’ll look like a pro -- or at least fake one real well.
Use an ice cream scoop for cupcakes
They're the perfect size for portioning out cupcake batter.
Make your own powdered sugar
Blend 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cornstarch in a food processor until fine and powdery. Sift through a fine-mesh strainer.
Test if your baking soda is stale
To test baking soda, put 2 tablespoons of white vinegar into a small bowl and add 1 teaspoon of baking soda. If it fizzes immediately, it’s still good.
Test your baking powder, too
To test if baking powder is still good, combine 1 teaspoon baking powder with ⅓ cup hot water. If it bubbles, it’s still good.
Keep parchment from rolling up
Trying to keep parchment paper from rolling in on itself is an exercise in futility. Stay sane and use magnets to keep it planted to the baking sheet.
Bring eggs to room temperature quickly
Place cold eggs in a bowl filled with warm water. Let sit until the eggs come to room temperature.
This also gives you amazing arms. Chill a Mason jar in the fridge. Fill it halfway with heavy cream, add a teaspoon of powdered sugar, seal the lid, and shake vigorously for 2 minutes or until it’s thick and fluffy.
Grate butter instead of cutting it into recipes
For recipes that call for cut butter or folded butter -- like pies, biscuits, and croissants -- grate the butter into the dry mix for the same effect with less effort.
Make buttermilk in 10 minutes with ingredients you already have
Stir together 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or white vinegar). Let it sit at room temperature until thick and slightly curdled, about 10 minutes.
Bring cold butter to room temperature quickly
Many baking recipes call for butter at room temperature, but that can take at least 30 minutes. Save some time with this cheat. Cut butter into chunks. Fill a glass bowl with hot water. Pour out the water and invert the hot bowl to cover the butter. Let sit for 2 minutes, uncover, and use.
Soften crispy cookies
Whether they turned out crispier than you like, or they're one day too stale, place a slice of sandwich bread in the cookie jar. The following day, cookies will be soft, chewy, and moist.
Roll pastry dough without a rolling pin
Use a chilled wine bottle. The cold will also prevent your dough from softening too quickly.
DIY corn syrup
Melt 1 cup of sugar with ¼ cup water over medium heat until sugar melts, about 3 minutes. It'll thicken up as it cools.
Mayo makes an effortlessly moist cake
For a moister crumb, add 1 cup of mayonnaise to the batter.
Use a muffin tin for even cookies
For soft and evenly round cookies, bake them in a muffin pan so they don’t spread out.
Keep brown sugar soft
Toss a strip of rind from an orange or lemon in with the brown sugar and seal it in a Ziploc bag or container. It'll stay nice and soft. A slice of bread or marshmallows will also work.
Soften brown sugar when it's already hard
Microwave it in a baking dish covered with a wet paper towel for 20 to 30 seconds. Use a fork to break it apart. It'll feel like packable sand once again.
Slick measuring cups before scooping sticky ingredients
Honey, syrup, molasses... whatever sticky substance you measure will slide right out when you spray the measuring cup with cooking spray first.
Prevent blueberries from sinking for even distribution
A dash of flour will help blueberries -- or whatever you're throwing in your batter -- defy gravity. The flour makes them stick to the batter and stay suspended instead of sinking to the bottom. Toss berries with a tablespoon of flour before folding them in, but use flour from the recipe -- don't add extra.
Separate eggs with a plastic bottle
Break eggs into a bowl. Use an empty bottle to suction the yolks out.
Use a Ziploc bag for detailed icing
Fill a Ziploc bag with frosting and cut the tip off one corner. Squeeze the frosting through the hole and pipe it right onto your treat.
Frost cupcakes quickly with an ice cream scoop
For that "Magnolia look," use an ice cream scoop to portion out the frosting onto the cupcake. Then turn the scoop over and use the rounded end to spread it out to the edges, leaving a cute crater in the center.