Frosting

Tips For Better Cookies

December 10, 2020

Holiday baking time is a fun time of the year with the kitchen filled with delicious aromas and an array of treats to share with friends and family. No matter what style or flavor is your favorite, follow these steps for the best cookies you’ve ever baked, every time.

Use Room Temperature Ingredients
Get eggs and butter out of the refrigerator early, so they blend better in your cookie dough. Your cookies will have better texture and volume when all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Measure With The Spoon & Sweep Method
Use a spoon to add dry ingredients like flour to a dry (flat edged) measuring cup, then level off with the back of a knife. This method gives you the right amount of flour for the recipe, so your cookies aren’t too dry or dense.

Chill Dough Before Shaping Or Slicing
Refrigerate at least 1 hour or even overnight, so the dough is easier to work with and cookies hold their shape. Giving the ingredients time to meld makes your cookies taste better too.

Flour Your Cookie Cutters As You Go
Keep a small bowl of flour next to your work surface when rolling and shaping cutouts. Dip cookie cutters in flour in between stamping so they release easily and don’t stick to the dough.

Use Parchment Paper To Line Baking Sheets
Ensure that your cookies won’t stick to the baking sheet by using parchment paper liners. Parchment can be used more than once depending on the style of cookie, then can be replaced for more baking and easier cleanup.

Rotate Sheets Halfway Through Baking
All ovens have hot and cold spots. Help cookies bake evenly by switching the sheets between the top and bottom oven racks or rotating the sheets 180 degrees on the rack halfway through the baking time.

Rest On Baking Sheets For 1 To 2 Minutes Before Moving To Cooling Rack
When cookies are removed from the oven, they can still be soft and molten on the inside. Let the cookies settle and cool for a minute or two before transferring to a wire cooling rack with a thin spatula.

Cool Baking Sheets To Room Temperature Between Batches
Unbaked dough can start to melt immediately on a hot baking sheet, causing cookies to spread and overcook in the oven. Let sheets cool to the touch before using again.

Cool Cookies Completely Before Frosting Or Storing
Frosting can soften and melt on warm cookies, while sealing cookies in a container before they are cooled can cause sogginess. Let cookies rest on a rack for at least 1 hour before decorating or packaging.

Add A Small Piece Of Bread Or Orange Peel To the Cookie Tin
The cookies will slowly absorb the moisture from the bread or peel, so they won’t go stale as quickly. Replace the bread or peel every few days as it dries out.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Summer Baking

July 29, 2020

I know that summer baking seems counter intuitive, but for some reason I feel compelled to keep baking in the warmer months of the year. Keeping your home cool can be though enough without the oven adding to the heat. Plus, adding in heat-sensitive ingredients and humidity and you can have less than perfect baking results. Summer does bring wonderful seasonal ingredients like berries and stone fruits that should be missed.

Use your oven in the morning or evening. We all know that your oven can heat up your kitchen quickly. This is why I like to bake early in the morning or in the evening when the outside temperature is lower.

Choose recipes with shorter baking times. In keeping with minimizing the heat from your oven, look for baking recipes that don’t require lots of oven time. A simple cake or a pan of mini cupcakes will bake more quickly than a Bundt cake or even a pan of brownies. If you’re a cookie baker try baking a pan at a time to avoid having the oven on for all the time it takes to bake dozens of cookies. You can refrigerate the dough between batches or even freeze the dough to bake when your cookie cravings strike.

Refrigerate cookie dough and pie crusts. Speaking of cookie dough, keep in mind that a warmer kitchen will also make your cookie doughs warmer. If the butter in the dough begins to melt, you could end up with flat, tough cookies. You can try scooping and baking your cookies quickly, but if you refrigerate the dough before baking and between batches you will avoid these issues. This applies to pie crusts as well. It’s not unusual on a warm day to end up with a too warm, too soft pie crust once it’s rolled out, placed in the pan and the edges fluted. When this happens, just put the pie pan in your refrigerator for a bit to let it cool and rest.

Keep an eye on softening butter. With a warmer kitchen butter will soften faster. The warmer it is the faster butter will soften. If you’re using a recipe that contains softened butter, remember to check for softness sooner than normal to ensure that the butter doesn’t get too soft and affect the texture of your baked goods.

Humid days can definitely affect your baking. If you are baking something with a lot of liquid in it, then it may take longer to bake than usual. Keep an eye on whatever you’re baking and follow the recipe’s directions and your best judgement to check for doneness.
Fresh berries and stone fruits are one of summer’s gifts and it is nice to bake with them. There are so many easy ways to bake with summer fruit. A simple fruit crisp or cobbler is always a welcome treat on a summer day. They are also wonderful garnishes for many desserts like cheesecake and pound cake.

Frosting and heat generally don’t mix well. If you’ve made a cake or cupcakes that are frosted you may want to keep them in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve them. Bring them to room temperature before serving. Refrigerating these types of desserts isn’t a bad idea year-round, especially if the dessert won’t be eaten within a day or two.

No bake desserts may be the way to go. Skipping the oven time can still yield amazing desserts that are perfect for the season with their cool, creamy flavors, and textures. From ice cream to cheesecakes to pies and a whole lot more, you can find plenty of ways to satisfy your sweet cravings.

Support your local bakery. If you are lucky enough to have a great local bakery, take advantage of it. A simple pound cake can be turned into something special with just some fresh fruit and sweetened whipped cream. Brownies can be dressed up in a big way with a scoop of ice cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce, and a sprinkling of nuts. Your grocery store can help, too, with shortcut ingredients like puff pastry.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Cakes

December 15, 2016

I love to bake all year long, but during the holidays I’m on “baking overdrive.” To make better cakes here are some simple tips to help you with the best outcome possible.

Don’t use cold eggs. The eggs really should be at room temperature, otherwise the mixture won’t emulsify properly. If you’re short on time place eggs in a bowl of warm water for 15 minutes.

Make sure to measure all ingredients precisely. Baking is an art form, but also a science.

Position pans as close to the center of the oven as possible. If you’re placing more than one pan in the oven, they should not touch each other or the oven walls. If your oven isn’t wide enough to put pans side by side, place them on different racks.

If a recipe calls for 1 cup of sifted flour, then first sift the flour and then measure it. If it calls for 1 cup flour sifted, measure the flour, then sift it. It may seem subtle, but it can make the difference between a light, fluffy cake and a heavy one.

Allow at least 20 minutes for your oven to preheat. It’s best to turn the oven on before you start working on your recipe.

Avoid opening the oven door. Opening the oven door too often can make a cake fall, so use the window in your oven door to check the cake’s process when possible.

Remember that each oven heats differently. Check for doneness 10 minutes before the recipe suggests. For most recipes, a cake is ready when it starts pulling away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Invest in wire cooling racks. Cakes cool faster and don’t get soggy when set out on a rack. Leave them in the pans for 10 to 15 minutes before unmolding, and then place on a rack to cool completely before frosting. Angel, chiffon and sponge cakes should be left in the pan to cool to prevent collapsing.

Unfrosted cakes can be stored, well wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for 24 hours. If storing unfrosted cakes for more than 24 hours, it is best to freeze them rather than refrigerate them. Wrap the layers in plastic wrap and then heavy-duty foil to freeze, let cake thaw in the refrigerator before frosting.

To store frosted cakes, keep at room temperature under a cake dome or large bowl unless the recipe specifies refrigeration.

For smooth and easy cake removal, prep your pans properly. When a recipe calls for greasing and flouring, place a piece of parchment or waxed paper on the bottom of a pan (trace and cut it to fit). Coat the sides and bottom with softened butter, and then dust with flour, turning the pan on its side to get full coverage and tapping out the excess. For chocolate cakes, swap in cocoa powder for flour.

Angel, chiffon, and sponge cakes should go into clean, untreated pans since they need to adhere to the sides in order to rise properly.

Happy Baking!

“Work With What You Got!”

© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2016 All Rights Reserve

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