Today I introduce you to a dear friend and a very successful baker, Iris Crasto Alvares. She is a home baker and runs a sought-after bakery by the name – Iris Cake Designz. After having created a niche for herself in the baking world, Iris never ceases to learn. She spends her free time learning more and it was at one such class for bread baking that I met her. I was truly inspired by the amount of dedication and compassion she shows towards her trade, fellow bakers and human beings, in general. I wish I could stay a bit more in Mumbai to learn the art of baking and designing from the master itself. But if you are in Mumbai, please don’t let the opportunity go by. Learn from the best!
Did I tell you she was recently featured on Mid-Day too! More success to you Iris!
Baking Tips and Tricks by Iris Crasto Alvares
“Let me begin by saying that baking is a science not an art. Precision and accuracy is the key for a successful baking experience. Below are some of my top baking tips”
#1 Always have the correct consistency of butter
Butter is the starting point for an immense amount of baked goods, so it’s important to have it prepped as the recipe suggests. The temperature of butter can dramatically affect the texture of baked goods. There are three different stages of butter: softened, chilled, and melted and cooled.
Most recipes calling for butter call for room temperature/softened butter. Room temperature butter is often beaten with sugar, either granulated or brown, into a light and airy creamed texture. This helps leaven the baked item and creates a more tender texture. Room temperature butter should be cool at room temperature– not melting or greasy in the slightest. Butter that has been partially softened in the microwave will, more often than not, yield a greasy baked good. Always leave it out on the counter for around 1 hour to yield the perfect consistency. Softened butter should give slightly when pressed but still hold its shape, like this:
Chilled butter is butter that has been well chilled in the refrigerator or freezer so that it does not melt during mixing.
Melted and cooled butter should be liquefied and lukewarm. If melted butter is too hot, it can cook the batter and eggs.
#2 Room Temperature is KEY
Speaking of temperature, if a recipe calls for room temperature eggs or any dairy ingredients such as milk or yogurt, make sure you follow suit. Recipes don’t just do that for fun– room temperature ingredients emulsify so much easier into batter creating a uniform structure and texture throughout your baked good.
#3 Always read the recipe in full before beginning
This sounds sort of silly to even type, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a complete and total disaster in the kitchen because I didn’t realize a certain step was coming up. Reading ahead will help you know the how, why, where, and when of what you are about to do. It will take you 1-5 minutes’ max and could save you from wasting your ingredients on a failed dessert.
#4 Always have your ingredients prepared
BEFORE beginning a recipe. So, read through the ingredients, get them prepared and ready on your counter, then read the recipe in full. There is very little room for error when you begin recipes this way.
#5 Learn how to measure
Well, one of the most crucial parts of baking is to measure your ingredients properly.
Much of baking depends on precisely measured ingredients and, unfortunately, problems are common if measurements are incorrect. Having a good grasp of measuring techniques is essential when it comes to baked goods. Measure dry ingredients in measuring cups or spoons– these are specially designed for dry ingredients. Spoon and Level (or “spoon and sweep”) your dry ingredients. This means that you should use a spoon to fill the cup and level it off.
And for liquid ingredients, I always recommend measuring them in a clear glass or plastic measuring pitcher.
#6 Weigh your ingredients
Kitchen scale is the most used tool in my kitchen. A gram or ounce is always a gram or an ounce. But a cup isn’t always a cup. Again, precision is everything.
#7 Keep your oven door closed
The oven’s temperature can ruin a recipe. But what can completely throw off the oven temperature is constantly opening and closing that oven to peek at your baking cupcakes. But doing so can let cool air in, which greatly interrupts your baked good from cooking. Or worse– affects how your baked good is rising.
#8 Check cake for Doneness
To check if the cake is baked, use a toothpick and pierce it in the center of the cake and not the sides.
#9 Must have baking tools
It is recommended that you have these tools in your arsenal: baking pans, mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, whisk, silicon spatulas and a kitchen scale.