Tips and Tricks

Here are some things you should know about how I bake, tips I've picked up along the way, or answers to frequently asked questions.

  •  I almost always use room temperature butter.  I soften butter by leaving it on my counter for an hour or so.  But when the urge to bake strikes and no butter has been softened, I found that microwaving it for 5-7 seconds on each side softens it pretty well.  Butter can be left out for hours and will not spoil.
  • I home-make my vanilla extract.
  • THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE: I measure flour by spooning it into a measuring cup and sweeping off the excess (with an old chopstick that lives in my flour container). 
  • When I bake cupcakes or muffins, I use 6-cup pans, and not the big 12-cup muffin tin.  Maybe it's my oven, but somehow when I use the big pan, my center 2 cupcakes are NEVER done and they almost always end up in the garbage.  Even when I rotate my pans halfway through baking, those 2 always stay in the middle and never get done.
  • I use room temperature eggs when I can.  You can warm up eggs from the fridge in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.

Helpful hints for following my recipes

You can make buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to milk (I almost always have skim milk in the house and that works fine).  I typically use lemon juice for baking and vinegar for cooking.  Just measure 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar into a 1 cup (or bigger) measuring cup, then top off to the 1 cup line with milk.  Let sit for a few minutes before using.  It will curdle.

You can substitute AP flour for cake flour by following this conversion: measure 2 tablespoons of cornstarch into a 1 cup measuring cup, then top off with all-purpose flour and sweep the top back into the flour container.

Cold eggs are easier to separate; room temperature eggs whip up better (like for meringues).