Brilliant baking tips - how to bake cheesecakes, cream, puff pastry and cakes
Our resident baking expert, deputy editor Lulu Grimes, shares her top tips for perfecting cheesecakes, whipped cream, puff pastry and cakes. Did you know that cocoa plus chocolate gives a better chocolate flavour than one without the other?
Cheesecake baking tips
Use a straight-sided glass to press the biscuit base into the side of the tin. This will also help keep the base flat.
If the recipe tells you there should still be a wobble in the centre, it means just that! Don’t cook it until it is firm unless you want a cracked top.
If your cheesecake cracks across the top it may be the fault of the recipe. One or two eggs is enough for a big cheesecake, any more may set the filling too firmly and cause it to pull apart as it cools. On the other hand, you may have overcooked it!
If your cheesecake does crack, cover the top with a layer of soured cream, dulche de leche or fruit. No one will ever know….
Whipped cream making tips
Make sure your cream is cold before you whip it.
Whip cream gently and keep a close eye on it, otherwise it will turn to butter.
Puff pastry making tips
Use puff pastry fresh, especially if it is made with butter (which it should be if you want a nice flavour).
If your pastry starts to get sticky, put it in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up. On no account keep trying to roll it out.
Chill or freeze puff pastry before baking - the slower the butter melts, the neater your pastry will be. Warm butter will melt out of the pastry layers and whatever you're making will end up lopsided.
Cakes baking tips
Make sure your butter and eggs are at room temperature. Then you’ll be able to beat or cream them together easily.
Creaming butter and sugar should take time - the mixture should be very pale and light.
If a cake recipe tells you to butter and flour a tin then do so. The batter might not rise as well if you don’t (it needs the butter to help it slide upwards).
If it tells you not to, don’t! Some cake mixes need a rough surface to help them climb up.
If your oven has a hot spot and your cakes always come up risen more on one side, rotate them half way through the cooking time.
Cocoa plus chocolate gives a better chocolate flavour than one without the other.
Cool your cakes in the tin when they are very hot. Once they can be handled, take them out. Otherwise they will steam and end up soggy.
Chopped good quality chocolate will make better chocolate chips than many ready-made chips which have added ingredients to stop them melting and sticking together.
Space your biscuits and meringues out when you cook them; don’t try and cut cooking time by squashing them together. You’ll just end up making one big biscuit.
Use dental floss to cut a cake in half, it works like a cheese wire. But not the mint flavour, of course!
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This week on the olive magazine podcast we have an extended special with baker, food writer, author and the first ever winner of Great British Bake Off, Edd Kimber. He talks to us about pastry, pies and… Japan! Edd reveals the secrets to his perfect pastry recipe and talks us through the inspiration behind his indulgent pies in the November issue of the magazine.