Top Ten Foolproof Baking Tips
by Rose Levy Beranbaum
1. Using a scale instead of measuring by volume makes baking faster, easier, more enjoyable, and virtually guarantees success.
2. Begin preheating the oven a minimum of 20 minutes before baking. If using a convection setting, lower the heat 25 °F. (This is not usually necessary for countertop ovens.)
3. For the best tasting citrus zest: wash the fruit with detergent and rinse well. This makes a surprising difference in the flavor. If the citrus fruit has already been squeezed and you want to make zest, freeze the rind to make it easier to grate.
4. Cut cheesecake with unflavored dental floss held taut. A deeply serrated knife works best for other cakes.
5. Choosing the right kind of flour makes all the difference. Use the type of flour indicated in the recipe. Unless otherwise specified, use bleached flour.
6. For the most delicious chocolate chip cookies use browned butter. It's easy to make: simply cook the butter until the milk solids turn a nut brown. Allow it to cool to room temperature before adding it to the cookie dough.
7. Once a cake or loaf of bread is cut, cover the cut sides with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.
8. When using dark or glass pans, lower the oven heat by 25°F.
9. To decorate baked goods or plate with sauces such as caramel, melted chocolate or raspberry sauce, use a squeeze bottle instead of a pastry bag. It can be set in a bowl of hot water to keep its contents fluid.
10. For rounded tops on cupcakes, let the batter sit in the liners for 20 minutes before baking.