The only way to become a better baker: keep learning! Not sure where to start? We've come up with a list of essential baking skills to tackle this year. How many of these skills are already in your baking repertoire?
How many of these baking skills can you learn this year?
1. Shaping and scoring bread
Baking bread is a delightful process that every baker should experience. Simple recipes for no-yeast rolls or sandwich bread make it easy to get your toes wet, but if (or when!) you get really into the process, you'll want to explore shaping and scoring bread. These techniques make your loaves look beautiful and bake evenly, yielding better than bakery-quality results.
2. Caramelizing sugar
Caramelization scares a lot of people. Yes, it involves very hot sugar that can burn you, but as long as you adhere to the proper technique, it's easy and safe to do at home.
Caramelizing sugar is vital for making beautiful, crackling candy glazes and caramel candies. So whether you're creating a cake topping, a sauce or candies, this is one baking skill to master!
3. Making pie dough by hand
If you rely on a food processor (or the freezer aisle in your grocery store) to make pie crust, it may be time to take a hands-on approach. Homemade pie pastry offers more benefits than just delicious Thanksgiving pies: It can be the basis of savory dinner pies, pie crust cookies, homemade Pop-Tarts and more.
4. Melting white chocolate
It's a cold, hard fact: Melting dark or milk chocolate is far easier than melting its finicky cousin, white chocolate. White chocolate has a different melting point than chocolate, so it requires a more care when it comes to melting. It's not difficult, but you do need to be armed with the proper knowledge and technique.
5. Making candy at home
When it comes to making candy, it all comes down to the specific stages in the process. Do you know your soft ball stage from a hard crack? Mastering the candy-making stages can it expand your baking repertoire so you can create glazes and decorations that will make your bakes second to none.
6. Baking macarons
Macarons have been on-trend for years now, but plenty of bakers are still scared to make them! You can master macarons, those light-as-air French confections that are lovely to behold and luscious to eat. While they can be tricky to make, with practice you're bound to attain the perfect light texture and coo-worthy adorable finished cookies.
7. Make a mirror glaze
While some will say that the mirror glaze is "so 2016," plenty of us still haven't tried the trend on for size. The mirror glaze is still beautiful, so why not take the time to learn how to create this beautiful shiny finish that will make your cakes shine (literally)? Check out our free video featuring Jacques Torres demonstrating how to make a perfect mirror glaze.
8. Allergy-friendly baking
Even if you don't follow a vegan, gluten-free or otherwise specialized diet, chances are high that someone you know does. It's kind to offer baked goods that adhere to various dietary restrictions — plus, it's a chance to increase your baking prowess! Trying gluten-free flours or vegan recipes can be an interesting challenge to even seasoned bakers.
9. Tempering chocolate
Tempering chocolate (a process that improves chocolate's texture, shine and durability) sounds complicated, but it doesn't need to cause kitchen stress. All you have to do is melt the chocolate, let it cool till stable crystals of cocoa butter form, and then heated back up to a working temperature. This allows for perfect "snap" on a candy bar, and produces the impeccably glossy, smooth texture on candies and finished baked goods.
FREE Guide: Baking Essentials for Beginners
Download this FREE PDF guide to master baking essentials, from how & why we cream butter & sift flour to how to store cake.