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What are your top baking tips? Share your top cheats, shortcuts and tips with Flora and you could win a £200 John Lewis voucher NOW CLOSED

(180 Posts)
AngelieMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 13-Nov-13 15:25:07

Flora have asked us to find out about Mumsnetters top baking tips and tricks.

Here's what Flora have to say, "At Flora were real fans of baking, but we're always on the lookout for tips and cheats to speed up the creation of cakes. We'd love to hear how you fit time to bake into your busy lives and how you make your cakes extra special with brilliant decorating designs that wow. (We'd also love to see photos of your creations, and we're running a great competition over on our Facebook page with some fantastic prizes, so pop over and upload your pics for a chance to win!)"

What are your top baking tips? Do you take any shortcuts when baking? Maybe you buy ready-made icing? Perhaps you use pastry from a packet? Or do you prefer making everything from scratch? Have you ever bought a cake and pretended that you baked it yourself?

Whatever your top baking tricks are, Flora would love to hear them.

Everyone who posts on this thread will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will receive a £200 John Lewis voucher (in time for Christmas).

Please note your comments may be included on Flora's social media channels, and possibly elsewhere, so please only post if you're comfortable with this.

Thanks and good luck,
MNHQ

supergreenuk Fri 15-Nov-13 16:11:04

My latest short cut is icing in a can. Terribly expensive but easy, mess free and the kids love it. Rare treat though.

Willemdefoeismine Fri 15-Nov-13 16:15:07

Always use pastry out of a packet after years of answering doors with gloops of pastry stuck to my rings etc.... hmm.

Home-made jam tarts are the easiest thing in the world to make. Also, they are very handy for getting rid of multiple almost-empty jars taking up valuable space in the cupboard/fridge!

BornToFolk Fri 15-Nov-13 16:16:25

Yes, similar to LaTrucha my top tip is when baking with small children is focus on the process rather than the product, i.e have fun and don't worry about how they turn out. If you're making something where results actually matter, don't do it when the kids are around...

fallenempires Fri 15-Nov-13 16:28:52

Keep a stash of butter or margarine wrappers in the fridge for a lazy quick way of greasing and lining baking tins

For rolling out pastry: use clingfilm under and on top of the pastry - it is a godsend and no flour everywhere.

Digital scales where you can use whatever bowl you are baking in and weigh small quantities accurately (eg for yeast and salt) are brilliant, compared to other sorts.

To get golden syrup off a spoon, heat the spoon on the hob before scooping /pouring the syrup, it just glides off.

Oven thermometer instead of relying on the dial is essential with a gas oven.

MrsBramleyApple Fri 15-Nov-13 17:01:28

If I don't have caster or icing sugar I put granulated sugar in the coffee grinder and give it a whizz!

Wheresthecoffee Fri 15-Nov-13 17:11:19

Grease trays with the butter wrapper, ready made pastry and an electric mixer!

Babycarmen Fri 15-Nov-13 17:16:39

My tip is... forget the recipe and experiment! Yes, it might fail but you learn a lot that way.

I do also cheat and buy ready made puff pastry.. but I make any other pastry myself grin

StainlessSteelCat Fri 15-Nov-13 17:27:50

if baking for kids give them the the cakes/biscuits to decorate. saves you doing it, clearance mg up doesn't take that much longer and they love it.

pastry with half and half trex and butter. a tuo from novella, use orange juice instead of water, apparently the acid helps, it definitely makes great mince pie pastry.

birthday cakes are all about the outside. if you are putting all that effort into the decoration don't spend ages on the cake. it has to be ok, not amazing. and the inverse is true. a cake full of flavour doesn't need spectacular decoration as well, simple works better.

keep eggs in cupboard and stork in fridge. then you can make a batch of cupcakes in under 30 minutes from decision to eating (yes, I'm greedy and impulsive grin ).

CaramelisedOnion Fri 15-Nov-13 17:37:28

I prefer silicone moulds to traditional baking tins...much less risky!

I use flora low calorie spray to grease as it gives even coverage without getting hands greasy....when I was a pastry chef in Spain we always used spray butter for this which gave me the idea.

I make my own icing....ready rolled is so expensive! The exception to this rule is if I need black icing....I just can't seen to colour it myself to true black....it always ends up dark grey!

I never use "cooking chocolate" I use proper chocolate ....cooking chocolate always tastes synthetic.

I often make home made raspberry marshmallows as a delicious filling to add to a jam sponge. They are easier than people realise....and taste so much better than bought...much lighter and fluffier.

if I can't find an essence which I want then I make it myself with stock syrup....for example I could not find ginger essence anywhere so I made a stock syrup (equal parts sugar and water, half a lemon and half a vanilla pod) then put a big piece of ginger in, let it boil then left to infuse overnight. Next morning I blended it with a hand blender, then passed it through a cloth over a fine chinois conical sieve to get the fibres out. You could do this with most flavours.

Preciousbane Fri 15-Nov-13 17:56:42

I put butter and Marge in a small bowl and stick on top of the radiator to soften it up.

prettybird Fri 15-Nov-13 17:59:27

My tip is one my mum gave me for good short crust pastry.

Don't follow all the recipes that say it should be half fat to flour. For melt-in-the-mouth pastry make it with slightly more than half fat to flour: say 9 oz fat (ideal half butter/half lard or cookeen) to 16oz flour (plus a pinch of salt). Rub/food processor together to breadcrumbs and then add enough water to bind together.

My mince pies are legendary. smile

ShatnersBassoon Fri 15-Nov-13 18:02:05

I try to keep a couple of baked sponge layers in the freezer so when I inevitably don't have time to bake for a cake stall, I can pull them out and just fill them after defrosting. I try to do this, but I've let myself down as many times as I've high-fived myself for being clever and prepared.

ShatnersBassoon Fri 15-Nov-13 18:03:57

prettybird, I totally agree with you and your mum. I only go crazy and up the fat for mince pies, but by jove it's worth it! I've had two people ask me this week if I've made mince pies - I haven't even made my mincemeat yet!

Just about everything I bake is a variation on the same amounts of sugar, butter (or Flora!) and flour, plus the number of eggs = the number of ounces of each of the above, halved. So, 8oz sugar, flour, butter = 4 eggs etc. I then add all sorts and bake in different tins to form lots of different things - one day it might be a chocolate cake, another time a mocha cake, another time little fairy cakes with grated carrots, spices and nuts, another day I might stick some chopped up fruit in fairycakes etc etc. Easy, reliable, pretty much fool-proof and usually v tasty.

Plentyofcats Fri 15-Nov-13 18:17:20

Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature before combining. You can warm fridge cold eggs up quickly by popping them into a bowl of lukewarm water for 5 mins.

Creaming butter and sugar takes a bit of time - you know it's done properly when it turns a lighter colour and is light and fluffy. I always used to under-cream mine!

If something is over browning pop a sheet of damp grease proof paper over the top to stop it burning.

When baking with young dc, have everything set up and ready to go. They will get tetchy and destroy if they are hanging around while you find ingredients.

Dolallytats Fri 15-Nov-13 18:43:46

I love baking (and have the body to prove it hmm!!). I have to do it all from scratch, I always feel like I've cheated even if I use a mixer rather than a wooden spoon!!

I like to make a basic sponge and then throw in anything I fancy/have in the cupboard. It's so easy!! Could be apple and cinnamon, mixed fruit, cherry and coconut or a combination of all of these. My DH loves it!!

My 5 year old DS makes lovely scones because bake together often.

missorinoco Fri 15-Nov-13 19:04:51

For the easiest speediest hassle free baking, wait til they are in bed and do it!

I love baking also, and will happily bake with the kids. Craft however, is a whole different issue.
Make sure you have out what you need before you let them stand on a chair against the cupboard or fridge.
Drop your cleanliness standards. It's either than or spend the whole time shrieking.

Do not try a new recipe that requires concentration when you are cooking with little ones if you want it to work.

Take the eggs out of the fridge in the morning if you are going to bake that day.

I buy puff pastry and filo pasrty, but shortcrust is easy to make.
Except Jamie's cream cheese pastry from Saving with Jamie. That is the work of the devil to turn into pasty, although it tastes lovely.

Like the damp greaseproof paper trick.

If I'm making something that involves using chocolate chips (eg cookies, my DC's favourite) I always chop up pieces of real chocolate rather than buy cooking chocolate drops- they taste so much better!

Rockinhippy Fri 15-Nov-13 19:37:34

Well Flora won't like it grin

BUT - use mayonnaise instead of eggs & butter/marge for baking muffins - etc - so quick & easy & surprisingly tastes more buttery than a normal cake smile

MuffCakes Fri 15-Nov-13 19:39:30

I bake cakes almost everyday at work, 2 top tips melt butter before creaming, and don't over mix once the flour goes in as you need the air.

YeahBuddy Fri 15-Nov-13 20:02:45

I have only just started baking and have stolen loads of tips from this thread but I learned the hard way to always use butter and eggs at room temperature. Also make sure you are using the correct ingredients! I had a bake-off with my dad who is an experienced baker a couple of weeks ago. My cake won before they even came out of the oven because in his cockiness, my dad hadn't looked at the flour he was using and put plain in instead of self-raising!

ILoveWoollyStuff Fri 15-Nov-13 20:25:11

For scones I always use cream of tartar and bicarb with plain flour rather than self raising and take them out of the oven just before they're completely cooked as they continue to cook when they're out. They always rise beautifully and are so light.

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