Baking and the holiday season go hand-in-hand in my mind. December never feels quite right if I don’t make at least one batch of my mom’s famous Sour Cream Cookies! Since everyone probably already has their own favorite or traditional holiday treats, I’m not going to share more recipes with you (at least not today.) :-) Today I’m sharing some practical baking advice instead!
The 24 baking hacks I’ll be sharing with you today will help save you time and energy on any baking project. Whether you save yourself a trip to the store, or save yourself the hassle of cleaning up a huge mess in the kitchen, that’s valuable time saved! Especially during the holiday season when it feels like there are never enough hours in the day!
So use these baking tips in the coming weeks, so you can enjoy quality time with your loved ones and some tasty holiday treats too! :-)
24 Brilliant Baking Hacks
1. Quick Cookie Cutting
Make it quick and easy to cut out shapes from your cookie dough by first dipping your cookie cutter in flour. The flour will reduce the amount of sticking between the cutter and the dough, which means less frustration for you!
2. Ripen Bananas
If you want to make banana bread, but your bananas aren’t quite ripe enough, here’s a tip for ripening them quickly! Place your bananas in a 300° oven until the bananas are soft and dark brown (up to 40 minutes.) You’ll end up with perfectly ripe bananas for your cakes and breads!
3. Warm Up Chilled Eggs
Baking recipes often call for room temperature eggs. But what if you’ve just taken your eggs out of the fridge, and are too impatient to wait for them to warm up? (Not that I would ever be so impatient…) ;-) You can quickly warm your eggs by placing them in a bowl of warm water. Let them hang out for a few minutes, then they’ll be ready to go!
4. Soften Butter Quickly
When recipes call for room temperature eggs, they often also call for room temperature butter. Here’s quick way to soften a stick of butter! Place your stick of butter inside a ziplock bag and seal it up. Use a rolling pin to flatten the butter out into a thin layer. At that point it’ll be soft enough to scoop out of the bag with a rubber spatula, and it’s ready to go!
5. Grate Your Butter
One of the keys to great biscuits and pie crusts is having small pieces of butter evenly distributed throughout the dough. You can make this process quick and easy by grating your butter on a cheese grater before adding it to the mix. The small shreds of butter will be easy to incorporate.
6. Improvise Powdered Sugar
Need a cup of powdered sugar for icing, but you only have plain white sugar on hand? Make your own! Add a cup of white sugar plus 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to your blender or food processor. Press the pulse button a few times until the sugar achieves the right powdery consistency. Easy!
7. DIY Splash Guard
Punch a hole in the center of a ice cream lid or a paper plate to use as a handy splash guard for your mixer. This will prevent those unfortunate splatters from liquids and powdery ingredients as you add them to your mixer.
8. Measure Sticky Stuff
It can be nearly impossible to get sticky substances like honey, molasses, and oil out of your measuring spoons and cups. The secret to making it super easy? Cooking spray! Just give your measuring cup or spoon a quick spritz before measuring out your ingredients, and they’ll slide right out with no sticky messes to clean up.
9. Perfect Slicing
Use a piece of dental floss to make perfect slices for cinnamon rolls, cheesecakes, and other soft or doughy items. When using dental floss, you eliminate the possibility of squashing them accidentally like you can when using a standard knife.
10. Eggshell Removal
Try as you might to crack those eggs just right, sometimes small pieces of eggshell end up in batter. Don’t worry, it happens to everyone! Those tiny shell pieces might seem impossible to remove, but there’s an easy fix. Just scoop out the eggshell bits using the rest of the eggshell! The pieces will stick together, making them much easier to remove.
11. Fluffier Whipped Cream
Want an easy way to get the fluffiest whipped cream possible? Chill your beater(s) and bowl beforehand! Your whipped cream will have stiffer peaks if all your equipment is nice and cold.
12. Non-Stick Mix
Whip up a batch of “cake release mix” that you can use all month long on your baking projects! This stuff will ensure that none of your baked goods stick to the pan. (It works great for any recipe that calls for “greasing and flouring” the pan!)
Add 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, and 1/2 cup of all-purpose flower to a mixing bowl. Whisk the mixture until the ingredients are well incorporated, then transfer the mixture to an airtight container. To use, simply use a pastry brush or clean fingers to spread a thin layer of the mixture into your baking pan. Store the rest of the mixture at room temperature for up to six months.
13. Soften Brown Sugar
If your brown sugar is has gone rock-solid on you, there are two easy ways to soften it back up again. The first method is to place the brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl, and cover the bowl in a damp paper towel. Microwave the bowl for 20 seconds to rehydrate the sugar!
The second method to revive your brown sugar is to put it in a 300° oven for 5 minutes. Regardless of which method you use, you’ll have saved yourself a trip to the grocery store!
14. Make Your Own Brown Sugar
If you find yourself running low on brown sugar, check your pantry. If you have white sugar and molasses on hand, you can make your own brown sugar in seconds! Just add molasses in small amounts to the white sugar and mix it in. Stop when you achieve the desired color.
15. Avoid Air Bubbles
For perfectly smooth cakes, cheesecakes, and more, drop the pan onto the countertop a few times before baking. The force of the pan hitting the counter will force the air bubbles in the batter up to the surface, so they don’t ruin the consistency of your cake. You can do the same thing for cookies after they come out of the oven. The force will help them settle faster.
16. Consistent Cupcakes
Use an ice cream scoop coated in cooking spray to distribute your cupcake batter into the liners. You’ll get an even amount of batter in each liner, and you’ll do it quicker too!
17. Cooking Spray Catcher
Speaking of cooking spray, here’s one of my favorite tips for minimizing mess while I’m baking. When it’s time to spray my baking pans, I spray the pan over the open dishwasher. That way, any overspray get’s washed away during the next dish cycle, instead of ending up on my floors and countertops.
18. Add Moisture With Mayo
Some people insist that the key to making a boxed cake mix extra special is to add mayo into the batter. Since mayo is largely made up of eggs and oil, it makes good sense to me! (And don’t worry mayo haters, you can’t taste it in the finished product.)
19. Practical Pie Crusts
You don’t need a ton of special tools to make a great looking pie. Forks, spoons, and tongs can create pretty patterns that will make your pie look like Martha Stewart baked it herself! ;-)
20. Marshmallows As Frosting
If you’re looking to shake things up a bit when it comes to frosting your holiday treats, try using marshmallows instead! Place marshmallows on top of your cookies when there are 6 minutes left in the baking time. The marshmallow will melt and create a fluffy, sweet topping!
21. Cakes Into Cookies
If you’re craving cookies but only have cake mix, here’s a simple tip: add 1/2 cup of oil and 2 eggs to the cake mix to turn it into a cookie dough! This works on most boxed cake mixes!
22. Picture Perfect Pieces
For perfectly sliced pieces of pie, cake, or bars, heat your knife before slicing. The easiest way to heat your knife is to just run it under hot water for several seconds. Then just wipe the water off and get slicing! The heated knife will slide through your treats with ease, and your pieces will come out looking totally Instagram-worthy. ;-)
23. Make Your Own Buttermilk
You don’t need to make a trip to the store just to get buttermilk. All you need to do is add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Easy!
24. Cake Storage
It might seem strange, but one of the best places you can store a cake is in your microwave! It’s sealed, free of dust, and will keep your cake fresher, longer. (You might want to post a note on the microwave stating that there’s a cake inside, to avoid any melted cake mishaps!)