Carole Dahan of Naples Florida is the Owner of Carole’s House Café and French Bakery. In the following article Carole Dahan discusses how aspiring bakers can develop their skills and start dishing out award winning breads and desserts.
Success smells even sweeter when bakers take their game to the next level.
Baking should be fun say Carole Dahan of Naples Florida, but baking is also an art. It can take a while for bakers to refine their talent, but there are still a lot of joyful baking experiences to have along the way.
Love baking? Carole Dahan of Naples Florida says here’s how to turn the temperature up a notch.
Carole Dahan says Become More Acquainted with your Oven
Baking is often an exact science, and Carole Dahan of Naples Florida says the oven is the most important tool. Even those who think they know their oven in and out should spend time really getting to know it.
Is it level in your kitchen? Are the racks level and what’s the baking difference between the top and bottom racks? A helpful tool for perfected baking is an oven thermometer — a simple one. None of those unnecessarily expensive ones are needed to get good bakes each time.
One of the most common qualities of a top professional baker is that they know exactly what they’re working with and are extremely precise.
Picking Great Ingredients
No, good baking doesn’t require the best quality ingredients, but they certainly help bakers work their way to the top says Carole Dahan of Naples Florida. And while friends and family will devour great baking, it’s true that better ingredients typically mean better taste.
That said, quality doesn’t always mean expensive; there may not be a tremendous amount of difference between a $10 bag of flour and a $2 one. The same goes for sugar. And chocolate. And sometimes butter.
Carole Dahan of Naples Florida reports that the best approach is to experiment and see what tastes best for the recipes. For example, try King Arthur Flour, perhaps organic cane sugar, or European-style butter like Kerrygold or Danish Creamery.
Doubting whether quality ingredients are being used? Taste the work. It’s half the fun of baking.
Carole Dahan of Naples Florida explains that preparation is key to great baking, especially when there’s not much room for experimentation. The flour must be measured right, the baking soda must be exactly what the instructions say, and the temperature sometimes leaves little wiggle room.
First step: Read the recipe. Always read it at least a couple of times before beginning. Make sure everything is understood: the preheat oven temperature, whether you mix or fold or lightly whisk. Next, get all the ingredients out — usually, they need to be at room temperature — and measure everything out before baking.
Especially if it’s the first attempt at a complicated recipe, it can be stressful if separating egg whites are overlooked or there’s not enough sugar.
This brings us to our next tip.
Always Have Baking Essentials at Hand
Every recipe will vary slightly, but baking typically requires some of the same, yet simple ingredients and tools. Yes, a stand mixer is fantastic, and it will ensure the fluffiest meringues.
But Carole Dahan of Naples Florida says sometimes all that’s needed for great baking is a wooden spoon and a bowl. The top bakers always have the following handy — and all are easily found and inexpensive:
- Measuring cups
- Cookie sheets
- Baking pans
- Different sizes of whisks and spatulas that are resistant to heat
- Mixing bowls
- Cookie scoops
- Cooling racks
Want to get a little bit more advanced? Invest in a good sifter, a digital scale, an offset spatula, and a high-quality baking mat.
Parchment paper is another essential for easily removing cookies and cakes from pans. Carole Dahan of Naples Florida says it makes clean up easy and even prevents cookie batter from spreading too much in the oven. Never leave a grocery store without extra parchment paper.
More Comfortable with Baking? Make a Recipe Your Own
Practice often makes perfect, and that’s a big plus in baking. But perfect isn’t always, well, perfect.
Carole Dahan of Naples Florida says be sure to follow the directions closely when trying a recipe for the first time — and then perhaps the next few times. Some things cannot be tweaked, such as the amounts of flour or baking soda.
But as confidence builds, start playing with some of the ingredients to make a dish distinctive. Add-ons that enhance flavor are a good place to start — try a different type of chocolate or fruit or nut.
Add something in that’s a surprise. Add something in that a friend or spouse or co-worker will rave about. Contrary to popular belief, there is some room for experimentation when baking.
Master Some Hacks
It’s the little tricks of the baking trade that separate the amateurs from the pros explains Carole Dahan of Naples Florida. For example, the buttermilk ingredient that not everyone keeps in their home?
Use 1 cup of milk, remove a tablespoon of the milk, add a tablespoon of lemon juice, and after 10 minutes you have buttermilk. Need cake flour? Measure 1 cup, remove 2 tablespoons of it and then replace it with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Combine and you got yourself cake flour.
Yes, baking can be challenging. But it is always ultimately rewarding, especially when upping one’s game.