As triple shot is all about my three favourite things, coffee, bakes and cocktails it is only right that my love of baking gets a little mention of its own. For me, baking is one of the most relaxing things in the world and I’ve loved it since I was young! Luckily for me I have a family full of people who love to bake and they are pretty good at it, in particular my mum. And it’s my mum who taught me many years ago the art of baking, and I’m so glad she did! If you ask anyone close to me they will tell you how much I adore baking, but over lockdown I think my love for baking was really reignited. After living in an apartment with a tiny oven and travelling a lot for work, when I would bake I found myself sticking to old favourites I could do without thinking. Things like cheesecakes and brownies, while absolutely delicious were unfortunately, no longer a challenge for me to make. Like most of the population I used the lockdown months to change this, being back at home meant I not only had the use of a much bigger oven but also all of Nigella Lawson’s recipe books at my disposal … it was heavenly! I started with things that I hadn’t made in a long time and worked my way up to new and very exciting bakes.
So I’m here to share with you some of the things I’ve learnt as my baking skills have developed. Hopefully these little tips will make your next bake a little more enjoyable. The first is give yourself time to enjoy the whole process … whether you are making a quick, one bowl bake like fairy cakes, or something more time consuming like patisserie the key is not starting if you are going to have to rush in any way. Trust me this will take every ounce of joy out of the bake (even if it is a quickly put together mix), I have been known to get up and make a very easy batch of scones before going to visit my family and it is never that enjoyable! I ideally like to have a whole afternoon free when I’m going to get stuck into some baking, and before I start I like to make a coffee to sip in between mixing and pop on one of my favourite chilled playlists for a bit of background noise (anyone else do this or just me?!).
Before starting to weigh anything out I always run through my recipe, lifting everything out and setting it in the order I need it … this is my second top tip. I find this little step helps me keep organised while weighing and mixing, and ensures no half teaspoons of baking powder are forgotten about! (particularly if the recipe calls for mixing and whisking certain ingredients in separate bowls before combining). This is also a good time to get your tins lined and greased, or trays prepared, lift out any wooden spoons and spatulas you might need and a tea towel is alway good to have close to hand! I really think the more organised you can be prior to starting the better, now I might be one of those types who actually enjoys organising but I’m telling you trust me on this.
I hear people saying all the time they can’t bake or things never turn out the way they should when they make something. So if you are new to baking or baking is always a disaster, I would start with trying to master the basics. Even if that means making the same recipe over and over again. Once you make that perfectly fluffy vanilla sponge or a batch of biscuits that have the right balance of crumble and crunch, then you are ready to move on to trying different flavour combinations or more complex recipes. This is mainly because you will know what a standard cake batter consistency should be or how a biscuit batter should feel before playing with flavour combinations.
Here is where my next top tip fits in … follow the recipe! This might seem like a no brainier but I have been guilty of finding a recipe I really want to try only to look closer and find its all the measurements are in cups. I’ve thought that’s fine I’ll just convert the cups into grams on my phone, no I was always wrong, despite the bakes being eatable there was always something a bit off about them. I quickly got myself some proper measuring cups to stop this from happening anymore!
Finally don’t expect it to look like the one in the recipe book and don’t be disheartened when it doesn’t. If there is a big crack in your banana bread don’t worry. If you have fairy cakes that have exploded over the side of their cases a bit its ok. If your bread isn’t perfectly shaped, what does it matter. Baking isn’t all about the aesthetics, but it is all about the enjoyment.
Playlists I bake to (all on Spotify):
- Chilled Sunday
- 90s chill
- Cafe covers
- We’re baking cookies
Some of my favourite recipe books:
- How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson
- Tea Time by Avoca
- John Whaite Bakes at Home by John Whaite
- Chocolate Recipes by Green & Blacks