We’ve all been through a lot this year. Despite the shift to the new normal, we have all persevered through it all and it’s finally the Christmas season again. It’s a time to be thankful and merry!
However, for some, it’s also a time of stress because of the pressure of needing to put on a cheery attitude and have a festive dinner for Noche Buena. You don’t need to be stressed! We have a budget-friendly meal plan for Christmas under P1,000 that includes a dessert you do not have to make! We have P1,200 and P1,500 Noche Buena meal plans that make it easy for you to plan. Do this before the Christmas shopping rush is at its height and you’ll do fine when the big day arrives.
However, if you’re planning on doing some holiday baking in addition to the Noche Buena plans, you need to give yourself a breather to settle your mind and avoid making a mistake you can’t recover from. After all, once it’s in the oven, you can only fix it once it comes out.
Don’t let the holidays be a stressful time to bake. Avoid these common baking mistakes that can dampen your holiday spirit:
1 You forgot to preheat your oven.
We know it’s an additional charge to your electric or gas bill but it needs to be done. Preheating your oven is the only way to know that you’re baking your dessert evenly and properly. The danger of not doing this is right the first time is either overbaking or underbaking your dessert that first time. You might also get the timing all wrong for the second batch of batter you put in the oven because the oven temperature has only then become regulated.
Instead, take a few seconds from mixing ingredients, and set the temperature on your oven and turn it on.
2 You didn’t buy enough ingredients.
This is where many new bakers make mistakes. When you have to bake for a crowd that’s bigger than you anticipate, you may need to bake more than one batch. That means doubling, tripling, or even quadrupling your recipe.
It’s not always as easy as multiplying everything in the recipe because not all ingredients work in the same ratios. You can add too much or use too little baking powder for that big batch. You can fail to adjust baking time with bigger or smaller portions. To remedy this, we say make the same batch again instead of making a bigger batch.
This is easier than trying to adjust the amounts needed. Since you are making the dessert two or three times, you can more safely multiply the ingredients needed and buy the right amount you need.
3 You forgot to soften the butter.
The good news is if you did forget, it’s easy to soften butter. Here are a few ways to get it softened quickly:
- 1 Cut it up into smaller cubes to hasten softening.
- 2 Place butter under a warm glass or in a warm bowl.
- 3 Defrost it in the microwave set to “Defrost”, and turn the butter occasionally between intervals until softened to the touch.
- 4 Beat the butter with a wooden spoon, an electric mixer, or pound it between parchment with a rolling pin.
Choose your method to quickly soften butter so you can move on to the main part of your baking project.
4 You didn’t sift your ingredients.
We know. It’s a step that many of us avoid doing when we’re in a rush. However, this step is crucial to creating cakes, cupcakes, brownies, cookies, and other desserts that do not have pockets of dry flour when we take a bite. This actually doesn’t just apply to flour but also baking soda, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and other dry ingredients that have a tendency to clump up. This happens more often than you think because of the humidity in the air which causes these clumps.
It’s easy if you have a sifter or a strainer with a fine mesh. If you don’t, you can break up large lumps by simply whisking the dry ingredients together in a large bowl until the ingredients look fine.
5 You didn’t check your baking powder and baking soda.
It’s a common mistake but it’s a mistake that usually means a dense cake and cupcakes that failed to rise. You usually don’t remember until after it’s done but you need to do this step, especially if you’re working with an already open packet of baking powder and baking soda.
For baking powder, you need to test that it will still be reactive. This means testing baking powder. Use hot water; you just need a little pinch sprinkled over hot water to test if it reacts. If it does bubble up vigorously, you can more confidently use it in the recipe. If it doesn’t or bubbles up with lackluster results, it’s best to open a new packet.
For baking soda, while it doesn’t expire per se, it can absorb odors around it that might affect the taste of your dessert. Give it a sniff; it shouldn’t smell like anything at all. Also, check that it remains dry and powder-like. Any moisture can make it less effective.
There is any number of other mistakes you might be making while baking! Read on to learn other baking mistakes you can make and how to fix it: