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By: Emily Murray

BAKING PRINCIPLES AND INGREDIENT FUNCTIONBaking Principles and Ingredient Function

It seems many people either classify themselves as “great at cooking” or “great at baking.” There is a definitive division between the two for many people and a type of mystery surrounding the art of baking. Essentially, it all come down to learning the fundamentals and science that make some baked goods turn out so “yum” and others so “yuck.”

Deciding to further your knowledge with a baking education is the first step towards unveiling the mystery. Pastry training or baking and pastry classes can help you understand why certain baking ingredients behave the way they do. Unlike cooking, where many feel they are able to act a bit more creatively and adhere to a recipe
loosely, baking typically involves a more exact science.

Two Baking Rules to Live By

1. Weigh Your Ingredients

Using traditional measuring cups and spoons is normally fine for cooking, but when it comes to using these same measurements for baking, they just aren’t accurate enough. Using volume rather than weight for ingredients is one of the main reasons that cakes don’t rise or too much flour causes cookies come out hard. If you don’t have one already, pick up a simple baking scale and your recipes should turn out perfectly every time.

2. Know that Different Techniques for Mixing Yields Different Outcomes

You would think that there isn’t a real science to mixing ingredients right? Well one of the first lessons you are sure to learn early on in your baking education is that there are different mixing techniques that are used for different purposes. You may want to familiarize yourself with the terms folding, kneading, whisking and creaming.

Three Main Baking Ingredients and Their Functions

1. Flour

Flour is very important in recipes and baking and pastry classes because it is what gives many baked goods their structure and volume. It is also what gives cookies and other baked goods that telltale golden brown color that signifies that they are ready to come out of the oven.

2. Vanilla

Vanilla is one of those tasty little ingredients that provide an extra hint of flavor. You may notice that vanilla extracts range widely in price. Typically, when it comes to vanilla and getting the right flavor, you get what you pay for. In order to have that perfect flavor, you can even make it yourself by adding vodka and a vanilla bean. It’s as simple as that and aesthetically it looks great on your counter when you keep it in a decorative bottle.

3. Butter

Think what it would taste like if you were to sit down and eat an entire stick of butter – sort of turns your stomach at the thought right? Now imagine eating an entire batch of cookies, a little easier to understand. That’s because butter not only binds ingredients together, but when combined with the other ingredients necessary for cakes and cookies, it provides that creamy buttery flavor, without being too strong.

If you enjoy learning about and experimenting with ingredients, then you may want to consider enhancing your baking education with baking and pastry classes. Pastry training is a great way to cultivate your creative side while creating some tasty treats!


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