VCS Baking Tips

DSCN2088[1]On March 10, our Visiting Chef Series featured Chef Sarah Powers from Flour Bakery + Café. She brought in blueberry muffins for our trainees and used the same batter for a blueberry streusel cake. Baking is an art that’s all about timing and precision, and Chef Sarah had some great tips for making it easier.

Preparation: Always read the directions first to make sure all ingredients are  on hand. Once they are assembled, measure out the needed amount.  If the recipe calls for melted butter and eggs, make sure to cool the butter before use. This prevents it from cooking the eggs.

Texture: The texture of any baked good is determined by several factors, but a big one is gluten. Gluten is created when 2 proteins found in wheat and some other grains mix with water to form chains. Long chains of gluten are stronger and form tougher textures. This is ideal for more robust goods like bread. Short chains will result in a more tender texture, which is great for muffins and cakes. The more the ingredients are mixed, the stronger the gluten will become.

Storage: Batter doesn’t need to be baked immediately; it can be covered in stored in the fridge for 5-7 days.  In fact, baking batter the day after it was made can maximize the rise and fluffiness of the final product.

Presentation: The appearance of baked goods has a lot to do with how they are set up just before baking. Ingredients like blueberries and chocolate chips can cause stains and discoloration. To prevent this, don’t mix them in while making the batter. Instead, layer them and the batter into the baking vessel. For an even distribution, use an ice cream scoop to measure out the batter. If needed, use a butter knife or spatula to smooth it all out.