Sunday, January 01, 2023

Happy New Year! Some Tips

                            Mis en place and spelt flour...for two tips

 No, I didn't make any New Years resolutions per se, but I do plan on eating lighter and also I want to share some of my cooking and baking tips. You may (or may not) find something that you'll find useful next time you cook or bake.

The first tip is for baking. Don't stress about sifting flour. I understand that baking is really a lot of chemistry and that proportions matter, but today's flour only needs to be fluffed up in the bag or container before you measure. I have a scoop in my flour container, so I use that to lift up flour all around the container and then slowly let it fall from the scoop, which I'm holding a good six inches above the flour in the container. Once I've done that a few times...takes seconds!...I use the scoop to fill the measuring cup, then use a knife (or in a pinch my flattened index finger) to remove any flour above the measuring cup lip. The best recipes have you weighing the flour anyway, but this works for the recipes that only give measuring cup measures. 

Another tip is also mostly for baking. Having your ingredients at room temperature is really important for baking (unless the recipe tells you to chill an ingredient, or melt the butter, and so on). The ingredients will blend better, if you are creaming butter, it will aerate better, eggs will mix in to a butter/sugar mixture better, and so on. The tip is that if you have forgotten to warm your eggs, you can put them into a mug of really warm water for a few minutes. If the butter is cold, a microwave can help, but you do have to be careful. Put the butter on a plate, wrapped, then microwave it on half power for just 10 seconds. Turn the butter over and turn it 1/4 turn, then microwave another 10 seconds on half power. Check to see if it is less firm and ready to use. If not, half power for another 5 seconds should do the trick.

The most important tip is to get all of your ingredients out and prepped (mis en place)before you start any recipe or cooking project. This way you will find out before you start if you are out of an essential ingredient (so you can go buy it, borrow it, or find a substitution...or try another recipe!), and if you also make sure to lay out any tool, pot, pan, etc. called for you won't be flummoxed by not having that hand-held mixer or immersion blender when the recipe is half done. Imagine trying to make jelly, which needs hot, sterilized jars once cooked, if you forgot to check if you have jelly jars, and if they are clean and sterilized. I often run the dishwasher, with all the jelly jars in it, right before making jam or jelly. That way the jars are ready, hot, and clean right out of the dishwasher. 

Of course in order to do this prep work you will need to read the recipe all the way read it again. When I read it the second time, I try to imagine myself actually making the recipe. Visualization works!

That's it for today. There will be more posts with tips coming later this month.


  1. Anonymous2:44 PM

    I never really learned to mis en place, which is why only one of us regularly bakes... I find it fiddly, which is to say that I will, if the mood takes me, skip measuring altogether... again, why only ONE OF US routinely bakes. ☺ -t

  2. I often don't measure for cooking, but baking really does depend on proportions, so I usually measure, aside from now and then pouring in a dollop of vanilla when it calls for a ends up being close enough to the same. :)