Thursday, 14 January 2016

Ten Best Baking Hacks


 

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 Life hacking 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

2. Grounded
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.

3. Whisk
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

6. Egg-cellent
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


8. Crumbled
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?

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Baking Trends 2016

Image result for 2016
Image courtesy of theodysseyonline.com

Happy New Year!

And welcome to the annual What Kate Baked prediction of baking trends for the next 365 days, aka the post in which I wildly and inaccurately attempt to predict what the cool kids will be eating in 2016.

Savoury Doughnuts

Image courtesy of sodiumgirl.com

Remember that Miranda episode with Miranda's apocalyptic reaction when she discovered the existence of savoury muffins? My response to reading about the forthcoming trend for Spicy Ox flavoured doughnuts or the Nutella Bacon Doughnut was not dissimilar...

Artisan Ice Cream

Salted Caramel Bacon Butter Ice Cream is the new Mr Whippy. No really; this trend will definitely be found at an ice cream van near you this summer.

Ube Cheesecake

Image courtesy of jamilamimi.com

Not the illegitimate child of the popular taxi firm, but a Filipian vibrant- purple yam. Currently a big hit on the West Coast of the US

Trashy Flavours

Think Oreo or Smarties or Creme Egg everything. Simply bake your classic, traditional Victoria Sponge and decorate it in an enormous amount of E-numbers

Extreme Pastry

...has the makings of the best obscure-satellite channel TV programme ever. Its all about the mountains of spun sugar apparently. Where's Bear Grylli when you need him?

Bakewell Tarts

According to a top London restranteur, Bakewell Tarts are going to be huge this year. Well, in terms of popularity, not size. Although a giant Bakewell Tart does sound like my kind of trend.

Whether you'll be tucking into ubes, creating spun sugar mountains or devouring savoury doughnuts, have a very happy 2016!