8 Baking Techniques You Need to Know

8 Baking Techniques You Need to Know
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8 Baking Techniques You Need to Know

Read on to learn the essential techniques every baker should know.

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How to sift

Sifting aerates flour, powdered sugar and other dry ingredients. If a sifter isn't handy, mixing ingredients with a whisk or fork is the simplest way to fluff up flour. However, ingredients like powdered sugar need to be properly sifted or you risk clumps.

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How to measure

There are measuring cups and spoons for dry ingredients and ones for liquid ingredients, and they're not interchangeable. Use your dry measures to scoop ingredients until they are overflowing, and then sweep the top with the back of a knife. Liquid measuring cups are clear so that you can check from the side at eye-level.

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How to beat

Beating your ingredients means to stir them rapidly to incorporate air, and you can do it with a spoon, whisk, mixer or food processor.

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How to cream

In baking, creaming most often refers to blending granulated sugar with a solid fat like softened butter. Slowly adding sugar to the fat while beating incorporates air bubbles; you'll know it's ready when the volume has increased, the color has lightened and the texture is fluffy.

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How to fold

When you need to combine an ingredient in a delicate mixture, like egg white, it's important to fold. Take a spatula and gently sweep the bottom of the bowl, lifting the bottom over top. Then twist the bowl 90 degrees and fold again, repeating until combined.

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How to knead

To knead dough, place it on a floured surface and shape it into a ball. First, fold the top half of the dough over the lower half of the dough toward you, and then gently push into the dough with the heel of your hand. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat. Continue to do so until the dough is soft and smooth, A sign that the dough is ready is when you press into it with your finger and the dough bounces back.

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How to zest

The zest of citrus fruits add wonderful flavor and aroma to baked goods. To make your own zest, you'll need a grater. Wash your fruit, and then glide it down the grater, applying a bit of pressure to take off its outer surface. You'll want to rotate ever so slightly as you grate, and make sure to avoid the bitter white pith underneath.

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How to make frosting

Buttercream, whipped cream, royal icing, ganache and glaze—there are many types of frosting to put on your cookies and cakes! A simple vanilla buttercream frosting combines softened butter with powdered sugar, milk and vanilla flavoring (you can find the recipe here). If you're new to frostings, try making a glaze, a combination of powdered sugar and milk, that's perfect for drizziling or dipping!

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Why do some cooks say they can't bake, and vice versa? While it seems the two should go hand in hand, bakers can be a whole breed of their own. Baking requires precision and allows for few substitutions, and many liken it to a science! If you want to become a better baker, it's important to learn how to properly measure your ingredients and know when to apply different techniques like beating and folding.

Whether you're new to baking or you just need a refresher, these eight techniques are essential for every baker to know. There'll be no limit to the breads, cakes and cookies you'll master once you know these!

Check out the slideshow above to learn eight essential techniques that every baker should know.

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