Baking Tips for the Busy

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Geo Beats
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Baking Tips for the Busy - as part of the expert series by GeoBeats. One thing that I like to do when I am baking is to measure out onto a sheet of parchment paper - parchment paper is my friend. If you have a busy family like I do, if you have children, if the phone is ringing, chances are you have put your ingredients into a bowl and then maybe you have come back to it because you answered the door and you cannot quite remember what you put in it, so this is what I do. So, no matter what that ingredient is, typically I sift my flour in advance, and I happen to always use high ratio flour when I am baking cakes. The reason I like a high ratio cake flour is because it has been processed to reduce the amount of protein and the amount of gluten that is present in the actual flour. It makes a very fine silky texture because the grains are a little bit finger than regular cake flour. Regular cake flour can be found in most grocery stores in the baking aisle and it is typically in a box. It is about a one pound or a two pound box. If you prefer to try a high ratio flour, any specialty baking supplier should be should be able to have it for you. So this is what I do - I actually take my flour, and you always want to level it off. I tend to sift first and then measure and then if my recipe calls for three quarters of a cup of flour, then I literally put three quarters of a cup separately onto my parchment paper. This way when my son is telling me that something went wrong, I can actually go see what happened instead of dumping it in a bowl and not being sure. So if I need to measure additional dry ingredients, I take them, if you are measuring most baking powder soda you actually need to level them off, that is what that little part is for, and you go ahead and dump it down. If you are measuring spices, you do the same thing. One of the secret ingredients that I like to use for many recipes is buttermilk powder. Buttermilk powder is actually dried buttermilk that is ready to use whenever you need it. Typically it is about 4 tablespoons per cup of water, so I can actually measure out my buttermilk powder into my dry ingredients and then add the balance of water later, so I do not have to worry about purchasing buttermilk that I am not going to use all of it, I can just have my buttermilk powder in the refrigerator whenever I am ready. So when it is time to bake, I actually gather the larger sheet of parchment, keep it all together, I give myself a handle, and no matter if I am using a hand mixer or if I am using a stand mixer I can actually be blending while I am pouring the ingredients in. So it would kind of look like this, I am going to put this back in this bowl. So I could have my mixer and then I could gradually add my dry ingredients as the mixer is running which is a beautiful thing. I was able to walk away from this process and still come back and know exactly what I was doing.