Updated: Sep 16, 2019
Every baker starts from somewhere and most of us make some common mistakes. Its good to make mistakes and then learn but sometimes it helps a lot if someone shares their own experience by which few mistakes could be avoided. Neither of my parents has ever baked anything so I have to start everything on my own. Yes Google and YouTube have been great help in this manner. Some of you might not feel these points as helpful because you have already crossed that line but for those who are just about to start can take these as a guideline.
Read the recipe thoroughly. Yes read it as many times as you need to until you understand everything completely. I would suggest 2-3 reading would help you in understanding.
Keep all ingredients and tools ready. Before you start making anything measure and weigh all required ingredients properly. Give your time to this step as it’s very crucial. I would suggest that for flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar eggs, butter, milk etc you should be exact but for flavours like vanilla, essence, fruits etc you could vary as per your taste. But don’t do this if you are trying a recipe for the very first time. Sifting helps in adding some air to your batter so do sift your dry ingredients. Never crack your eggs directly in the batter as you could go wrong with this step sometimes.
You should measure your ingredients properly. Use a small weighing scale, measuring cups and spoons etc. Don’t eyeball everything. So having these equipment in your kitchen help makes your life easy.
Check ingredients temperature. All your ingredients should be at room temperature. Butter, milk and eggs here matters a lot. If your butter is too hard then it is tough to beat it with sugar and if too runny then it won’t take the desired shape. If your eggs are cold then they may crumble up. So be careful. If you are in hot country then its not an issue you could keep your ingredients out for half an hour or so but if you live in cold country then keep your ingredients on your counter before2-3 hours. Sometimes you can take little help from microwave.
Properly prepare your baking sheet/pan. Yes PAY ATTENTION to this step. Grease your sheet/pan thoroughly and use either wax paper/parchment paper. For greasing you can use either butter/oil or any other kind of fat. But these two works well.
Preheat your oven. Before you start with your recipe set your oven at right temperature as instructed in the recipe and run it for around 10-15 min on that temperature. This will help to get your oven at right temperature. You could also use oven temperature for accuracy. But I have never used but still its there. So its all up to you whether you want you can go for this option.
Set your oven temperature as directed in the recipe. Also do not open the oven door frequently. As it release the inside air out and reduces the oven temperature. It could also lead to more cracks on your cake. So have patience.
If you are making cookies then do keep your dough in the fridge. Do not be in hurry or skip this step. As keeping it in the fridge helps in firming up your dough the rolling it becomes easy. You will be able to give it your desired shape and handling will become easy.
Your baked stuff taste completely depends upon what quality of ingredients you are using. So be particular with the brand and always use high quality ingredients.
Do not oven mix the batter. When you are at the last step of your recipe and you are mixing all your dry ingredients into wet then be more careful. Do not over mix the batter as it makes your cake hard. Mix it till you stop seeing your dry ingredients in it and then stop your process. Be gentle here and do it with light ands only or if you are stand mixer and ten do this on your mixer’s lowest settings.
After these tips there are still few you should know about them. If you using dry fruits then mix them with a little flour so as to stop browning of them. Before you start frosting your cake then make sure its cool completely. Otherwise your frosting may melt. Taking help or classes from somewhere at initial stage helps a baker to understand about these key points but still if you are going for that option then do keep these things in your mind.