Cookies, muffins, cakes–mistakes to avoid

5 Common Cookie Mistakes

Milk can help wash down failed baking experiments at home. But it can’t save you from turning up at a holiday party with tough, flat or, worse, fugly cookies. The F&W Test Kitchen’s Kay Chun, however, can help. Here, she explains how to avoid the most common mistakes.

1. Underbeating (a.k.a. undercreaming) the butter and sugar. The butter mixture should be pale yellow in color and fluffy, which takes about three minutes; this helps form tiny air bubbles so that during baking, the bubbles expand and help the cookies rise.

2. Overbeating (overcreaming) the butter and sugar. Stop once the butter is pale yellow and fluffy, otherwise the butter starts to break down and release all those air bubbles you’ve just created. During baking, the cookies will remain flat and dense.

3. Placing the cookies too close together on the baking sheet. Give the cookies enough space to spread. If there’s not enough room, bake the cookies in batches.

4. Overmixing the cookie batter. Overmixing activates the gluten in the flour, yielding chewy and tough cookies. Beat in the flour on low speed just until combined.

5. Overbaking the cookies. Check the cookies at the minimum baking time and remove them when they’re lightly golden on the top and bottom, and firm around the edges. Even a few extra minutes can lead to cookies that are too dark and very hard once they’ve cooled.
08-Feb-2011 by bronzegoddess_bright

Tips To Avoid Baking Dry & Hard Muffins! Even the best of us need tips to bake the perfect muffins. Dry & hard muffins?!? Yikes!! Who needs them? …………..

1. A Recipe for disaster
What I mean by a recipe for disaster is this; a poorly conceived recipe. It could be a poorly constituted recipe or the recipe writer would have forgotten to include a few ingredients. My advice to is to read the recipe properly. If you feel as if something is amiss, counter check with other recipes of the same dish. And one also has to be astute and apply common sense while dealing with such recipes.

2. No Baking powder, no muffin love
Most of the muffin recipes will include 2 to 3 teaspoons of baking powder. If you do not add baking powder to you muffins, they will be poorly textured and will not rise. The will be thick and more or less inverted. And if you haven’t guessed it, there will be dry & hard muffins in your tray.

3. To stir or not to stir
The ground rule of muffin making is never to use a electric mixer to prepare the batter. Over done batter is one of the reasons resulting in dry & hard muffins. If you stir enough to moisten the dry ingredients, it should do. Ideally, you should just stir till you get a lump free batter. You can accomplish this in about 15 to 20 strokes of the ladle.

4. No more eggheads
The funny thing about the eggs is that when you put in more than what is required, your muffins will be rubbery, smelly and dry. If you are baking some that eggless variety, you can skip this section.

5. Over-baking
This is a very common mistake that many of us make. If the muffins are baked for a long time or if they are cooked at a very high temperature; you can be sure to have dry & hard muffins. To avoid baking dry muffins, just bake till it is required. And do not forget that muffins are in the oven.

6. How is your pan?
Do not use dark, non-stick pans as they absorb all the heat and burn out the muffins. Always use the regular shiny, greased pans to bake them.

Baking Problems

If your baked goods have a questionable taste, weird texture, or just aren’t looking their best, let our solutions to common baking mistakes help.

First we have this mistake: You make substitutions to lighten your favorite full-fat recipes

The Result: You wreck the underlying chemistry of the dish.

The Fix: Substitutions are a particular temptation, and challenge, with healthy cooking. At Cooking Light it’s our job to substitute lower-fat ingredients―to change the cooking chemistry a bit while capturing the soul of a dish. When it comes to baking, this is as much science as art.

We’ll get calls from readers about cakes turning out too dense or too gummy. After a little interrogation, we’ll get to the truth―that the reader used ALL applesauce instead of a mix of applesauce and oil or butter or went with sugar substitute in place of sugar. Best practice: Follow the recipe, period.

(this was a sample, balance of article can be found at the above address.)