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hints and tips | Carr's Flour

Sarah's Baking Advice

Baking Hints & Tips

We would love to hear from you, if you have any handy hints or
tips, that you would like to share with us, please do send them to us!

What’s the best way to knead dough?

Knead dough with wet hands; this will stop the dough sticking without adding heaviness.

Why shouldn’t I prove bread for too long?

If left too long the dough will sink, as the carbon dioxide disappears from the yeast. 

How to get a crusty loaf?

Steam is the secret to creating a crusty loaf of bread. Simply place a tray of cold water in the bottom of your oven whilst baking your bread. 

How can I tell if my dough has doubled in size?

Draw a line on the outside of the bowl where the dough is before leaving it to rise you can then use this to compare after it has been left to rise, a rubber band works equally well. 

When it comes to weighing off ingredients

Never place the yeast in direct contact with salt or sugar, as this will decrease the activity of the yeast. Use the back of a spoon to create a shallow pocket in the top of the flour and place the yeast there. 

What can you make in a breadmaker?

You will be surprised, its not just bread that you can make in a breadmaker. Cakes, jam, ice cream. Using a dough hook/paddle means you don’t have to knead the bread yourself, saving you from all the hard work! Once the dough is ready use the heating element to bake the bread.  

Learn how your dough should look & feel?

Baking is both a science and an art. While you can follow a recipe, many external variables (temperature, humidity, etc.) will affect your dough. You can’t strictly rely on a recipe because you aren’t baking in a hermetically sealed test kitchen – so learning how the dough should look after kneading is important.

Too little flour and your bread will collapse as it attempts to rise, too much dough and your bread will be dense. You want your dough to be smooth and springy – not so tacky that it sticks all over the mixing bowl, but not tough with excess flour.

You should be able to form it into a tight ball when shaping it after the first rise. This takes time and trial and error, but once you learn it, homemade bread baking will be so much easier. 

Shortcuts for making bread?

For a hand finished bread, use the dough setting on the breadmaker to save time and then shape and bake in the oven for a hand finished product.

How can I achieve level cakes?

When your hot cake comes out of the oven, lay it upside down on a cooling rack to keep it flat. This makes it easier for stacking. 

Why should I grate cold butter into my pastry mix?

Keeping your butter cold before grating helps to distribute it evenly in your pastry.

How can I keep my cakes moist?

Wrapping your cake in clingfilm when it comes out the oven, this keeps in the moisture.

What are the benefits of keeping a lighter coloured pan?

Darker colours absorb heat faster, using a light coloured dish or cake tin may stop your bakes from burning or becoming dry.  

How often should I replace my baking soda?

Once opened, baking soda reacts with moisture in the air and can quickly drop in quality, affecting how well your bakes rise. 

What’s the best way to halve an egg?

To halve an egg, whisk it together in a bowl then take out two tablespoons of the combined egg mix. 

What’s your top tip for lining cake tins?

Leave a slight excess of baking parchment when lining cake tins as this means you can lift your cake out of the tin easily. 

How can I avoid my cake collapsing?

Keep the oven door closed when baking! Try and limit the number of times you open the door to check on your cake as this can reduce heat fluctuations. 

How is best to remove egg shell?

Wet your finger and place it next to the shell. Alternatively, use half an egg shell to scoop them out. 

What sort of butter should I pick for baking?

Lower fat butters tend to have a higher water content affecting the taste and consistency of your bake. Always go for the highest fat content possible.

Top Tip! Always preheat your oven

Putting your cake into the oven before it is preheated will affect how well your cake bakes including the height, density, shape and texture.

Best Weigh your ingredients?

Don’t weigh out direct into the bowl, always weigh ingredients separately, in case you make a mistake and for accuracy. Always weigh your water, as the most accurate measure. 1ml = 0.96 g (gram)

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