Welcome to an introduction to baking.
Possibly one of the oldest methods of cooking available to create anything from cake to bread and all the patisseries in between. Baking has been a hobby for millions of people worldwide and each culture has their own take on recipes.
Throughout history there have been countless recipes created. Some have withstood the test of time, some have disappeared off the face of the earth (Possibly for good reason). But if there is anything which can come close to chemistry in the kitchen it would be baking.
Take bread for example, In the UK you would think of a traditional loaf rising out of the oven, yet across the world there are so many various ways of making this. Tiger loaves, Baguettes, Naan bread, Banana bread, sour dough, Pittas, pretzels
While I do not expect this blog to become the next go to guide for recipes, I do hope to provide you with what we have tried and tested over the years. What has worked and what has failed miserably. I will also be doing a section on Cooking shortly with the same premise in mind.
So without further ado, lets get into it!
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What do I need to begin?
Now this all depends on what you want to bake. If you’re a complete novice you can probably get away with minimal ingredients and resources to start off with, but you will need some essentials to start. I will split these between Measuring, Mixing, Baking and Misc.
Measurements within the kitchen, especially with baking is crucial. Especially if you’re just starting out, and if you’re reading an Introduction to baking then I would guess this may be the case. Too much butter can make your final product oily, too much sugar can make a savoury dough too sweet, too much flour… You get the jist. On Amazon alone there are thousands of products available. Like with most products, check out the reviews.
Now measuring spoons are not really an essential to begin with. I’ve spent years using just a standard teaspoon or tablespoon on recipes and never had an issue with this technique. But if you want to get a little more precise with recipes you can purchase a wide range of measuring spoons.
Now measuring cups are different. You may see references to a Cup of Flour or a Cup of Butter, but what exactly is a cup? A cup isn’t your standard method of measurement in the UK, this is more from across the pond in the USA. You can purchase Cups in the UK, or you can find several guides on google which outlines the actual weight of the ingredient you require. AllRecipies has a pretty good conversion chart available for people to use.
One essential which I would suggest getting though is a measuring jug. This is essential for your wet ingredients. Personally I always buy Pyrex. They’re Microwave & Dishwasher safe and the amount of times you can drop them without them breaking is amazing! This is just a personal preference though.
So you now have all your ingredients. They’re all measured out. Lets get mixing them together!
But what do you use? This depends on how much effort you want to put into it. You can do a lot of it using good old elbow grease. But for anyone who has kneaded bread for half an hour will tell you, this can be very tiresome. You can also get machines which do the lot for you now days. No matter where you start though you will need a….
Essentially a larger than normal bowl which can hold all of your ingredients without getting it all over the place. As I’ve mentioned before, there are thousands of these available and this is just down to personal preference. Did you want metal, glass, ceramic? Each will have their own feel to them but it just depends what feels right for you. If you want to get this as a gift as well, there are various places (For example Etsy) which can personalise these for you or your partner and they make a really nice gift.
Now baking wouldn’t be baking without a wooden spoon. This one I think is self explanatory. Some people do opt for a more modern silicone spoon or metallic, this is down to personal preference though.
This one I also think is quite self explanatory. Where a wooden spoon is used for mixing your dry & wet ingredients, a whisk is used to mix together your wet ingredients. It can also provide a good amount of air into your wet ingredients which will be required depending on what you wish to make!
Now I wasn’t sure whether to put this into the Mixing section or not… But if you’re required to keep folding and rolling you technically keep mixing using a rolling pin. Note: Not to be used to bludgeon unsuspecting victims if you overbake your creations…
Now if you want an easier way to mix all those ingredients together rather than good old fashioned elbow grease you could try out a Mixer. There are loads on the market and they vary in price substantially. From as low as around £30 all the way up to over £500. There are different styles from hand mixers to ones which sit on the side and have a bowl attached to them. They have varying settings, handles, paddles. Some can pulse and kneed (Which is really handy for bread). This is all down to you though, If you’re happy putting in the hard work and mixing my hand then the above couple will suffice. If you would like to sit back and enjoy a glass of wine while it all gets mixed for you then I would suggest a mixer!
You will see this in so many baking recipes, “Sieve the flour”. This is so no lumps are added to your mixture and allows for a smooth mix at the end.
I think this one is a given… To bake or cook anything you will need an oven.
Now tins and trays can be a bit of a minefield. There are so many variations on what you can get. Did you want to bake bread? Then you may need a loaf tin. Muffins? Then a muffin tin. Cake? Then welcome to the world of various sized cake tins! Did you want metal or silicone? None stick coating? Removable bases? Removeable sides? the list can go on and on.
Now if you’re just starting out without a tray to your name, I’d strongly suggest getting a set. The sizes may not meet requirements completely but they’re a good place to start
I’ve added a couple of sets on this post, but there are many out there available. These two are just a couple of various sets which can be found on amazon.
It gives you various sizes and shapes of tins and you should be able to make the majority of cakes, loaves and muffins using just what is supplied here.
Now this one is optional but it can be very handy when baking. How do you know what temperature your oven is currently? While ovens usually have built in thermometers the temperature inside can fluctuate quite a bit. An oven thermometer can tell you exactly what the temperature is and you can adjust the oven accordingly.
Unless you’re made of metal or are completely impervious to being burnt. Oven gloves should be a high priority on your list of things to get. You can also use a tea towel, but a good set of oven gloves can protect your hands where a towel can slip away. I’ve learnt this the hard way…
Now this is a section for the miscellaneous items you may want to get when baking. To cover everything imaginable will be impossible as there are literally thousands of different devices you can use. I’m only putting down the ones which I’ve found useful in the past.
Exactly as it says on the tin! You’re on a baking spree, but you’re running out of room and everything you bake needs cooling before you can carry on with the next batch! What do you do? Put it on a stackable cooling rack. This way you can keep baking, cooling and storing your edibles without having to wait for them to cool in-between bakes.
Do you need the skin off an orange or lemon? You can probably slice pieces off and cut them up really fine but that wont work in the long run. This is where a zester comes into play. Really fine pieces of skin which enhances the fruity flavour. You can tell the differences in something like a lemon drizzle cake.
And I’m not on about one of those machines which turns the entire fruit into juice. Just something to squeeze every last ounce of juice out of your fruit. One with a pip catcher usually comes in really handy as you don’t have to mess around with taking pips out after you’ve finished.
You need to add some butter or an egg wash to some pastry? You will need a pastry brush, it makes it so much easier to do this and allows for a nice even coat across your creations.
Do you want to add buttercream to the outside of your cakes? Did you want to put some icing on top? There are a multitude of different things you can use. You can make flowers from icing, write messages with a piping bag. The possibilities are endless. I may need to go into a separate article for this in the future but once you have baked your creation, adding a bit of flair can make it not only taste amazing but also look fantastic.
So what’s next?
You should now have an understanding what tools are required to take up this hobby. Next is what do you want to bake? Over the coming weeks I will be posting up some easy to start recipes which will require minimal ingredients to use. Pick a recipe and get your mix on.
Don’t expect to be able to make these wonderful cakes straight away. I’ve found a lot of the time taste is always preferable to how they look! As long as you follow the steps you should be able to bake a cake or make a loaf of bread in no time. Without the need of a recipe.
Baking for Beginners Recipes
Easy bake bread – Only 4 ingredients required to get you started in the world of baking bread.
Baking is a wonderful past time to pick up. There are so many things you can do with it and once you have a basic set of ingredients and materials at your disposal you will be able to take on the world one cake at a time.
It’s not just a fun hobby for yourself to get into either, you can get the whole family involved. Though it may have a tendency to get a bit messy. If you don’t mind the odd bit of flour everywhere though and wiping up dropped eggs, this shouldn’t be a problem.
If you find that baking isn’t your thing after reading this, please check out the hobbies page here.