Knee deep in nappies, hours (mostly at 3am) spent googling "how to get my baby to sleep through the night" and days spent happily splashing my maternity cash on lattes in local coffee shops with other new mums, means the concept of a life hack had until recently passed me by. But apparently it's a "thing" at the minute. For those not in the know, Wikipedia tells me that refers to any trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method that increases productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life.
While my husband was taking his turn to blow raspberries while our darling baby laughed uproariously, I thought to put together a list of my favourite baking hacks. While these hacks may not change your life, say in the manner of this week's largest ever lottery win, they may come in handy one day...
1. Softly, softly
Although a microwave will soften and warm butter in seconds, it is rather frowned upon. Another version is to pop the butter in a freezer bag and give it a bash with a rolling pin. Terribly satisfying. Another option is to copy Jo Brand and sit on it.
If your recipe calls for ground almonds and your cupboard is bare, simply replace the quantity with plain flour and add a teaspoon of almond extract.
Whisking icing sugar almost inevitably means your work surface is covered in a fine layer of the sugar for at least the next fortnight. A teatowel over the whisk or a paper plate, with holes cut out and inserted at the top of the beaters, will reduce any back splash and messy clear up
4. Bangin' biscuits
Keep your homemade biscuits crisp by placing a couple of sugar cubes in the biscuit tin. Previously baked biscuits can also be pepped up by popping them back in the oven for a few minutes on a low heat
5. Brown Sugar
Not the song, but the hardened sweet stuff. No matter how carefully I reseal the bag, inevitably the sugar hardens between use. Either I need to make a lot more fruit cakes or I could pop a marshmallow or slice of bread in with the brown sugar in an airtight container
Urgently need eggs at room temperature? Simply pop them in a bowl of hot water for 5-10 minutes.
7. Perfect precision
For the absolutely perfectly cut slice of your favourite sticky cake, run your knife under hot water for several seconds, dry and slice
If no Sunday lunch is complete without a crumble for pudding, you can bulk-bake the crumble topping, divide into small portions to freeze and simply whip out each Sunday no ring to scatter over your fruit without missing a single word of The Archers omnibus
9. Emergency Cake
Need a cake-fix in a hurry? Microwave Mug Cake recipes have come a long way and take all over 8.7 seconds to make (possibly a slight exaggeration)
10. Charred, scorched and crisped
Slightly singed cake or burnt the biscuits? Use a microplane to grate away the bits you don't want anyone else to see. Who knew you accidentally forgot about the cookies in the oven while preoccupied with goings on in Ambridge?
11. Tricky sticky ingredients
When you're measuring out sticky ingredients, such as treacle or honey, spray the measuring bowl with a little non stick cooking spray and the ingredients will miraculously not stick
* Eleven. Sorry, somewhat sleep deprived and can no longer count.
What are your best baking hacks?
What are your best baking hacks?