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How to be a better baker

Whether you pride yourself on your baking skills or you’re an amateur who’s just learning the ropes, there’s always room for improvement. Baking can be fickle and complicated, subject to changes in climate or altitude. But beyond the factors out of your control, there are universal truths that will help you hone your skills. 

Weigh your ingredients precisely 

Invest in a digital scale if you want to improve your baked goods; out of all the changes you can make, this will have the most significant effect. Baking is an exact science, so you should exactly measure your ingredients to get the best possible product.

If you’re serious about baking and you want to be accurate down to the gram, the My Weigh Bakers Math can’t be beat. It’s a substantial financial commitment, but it’s worth it for the precision and durability you’re getting.

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If you haven’t bought a kitchen scale because you don’t want to drop too much cash, there's the Ozeri Pronto. This is an affordable, invaluable tool for improving the quality of your baked goods, although it’s not quite as precise as higher-end models.

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Improvise better, if you must

If you lack the kitchen space for a digital scale or if you’re convinced you can measure accurately enough without one, then you’ll need to perfect your technique to make sure you’re getting the appropriate amounts of flour and sugar.

  • Flour: When you’re putting flour into a measuring cup, never dip the cup directly into the bag; instead, gently add flour spoonful by spoonful, without pushing down. You want it to be light and airy. To level off the top of the cup, use an offset spatula.
  • Sugar: White sugar is the easiest to measure because you can just pour it directly into your measuring cup and use an offset spatula to take extra off the top. Brown sugar is a bit more involved; unlike flour, you do want to push this down into the cup so it’s compacted as much as possible.

Metal measuring cups are more durable; the numbers on plastic measuring cups often rub off over time. The last thing you want is to spend time carefully measuring only to have used the wrong size. Our favorite is this set of measuring cups from Bellemain.

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This is a multipurpose baking tool, as it’s also ideal for icing cakes. This set from LEGERM has three offset spatulas of various sizes, so they’ll fit any need you might have.

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Sift all powder ingredients

Before adding flour, baking soda, baking powder or any other ingredient with a powder-like consistency to your mixing bowl, sift them first. This helps prevent clumping, which can negatively affect the consistency of your final product.

A flour sifter is the best kitchen tool for sifting powdery ingredients — that’s literally what it was made for. This Bellemain Stainless Steel Sifter is easy to use and has a classic appearance.

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If you don’t have the cabinet space for a special tool, you can use a mesh strainer in lieu of a sifter, which can double as a strainer for pasta noodles, beans etc.

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Mix it up

A KitchenAid mixer is a must for those who want to perfect their baked goods. They’re pricey, heavy and bulky, but they do the job better than any inferior stand or hand mixer.

For those who want to invest in the top-of-the-line KitchenAid option, check out the Pro Line. This is a professional-grade mixer, and it boasts a 7-quart capacity so you can churn out baked goods like never before.

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Although the KitchenAid Artisan Tilt-Head is affordable, it doesn’t sacrifice quality; it’s still a state-of-the-art mixing machine. It comes with all the attachments you’ll need, and there are so many color choices you’re sure to find one to match your kitchen’s color scheme.

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Get ready to bake

Baking isn’t just about getting all your ingredients perfectly measured and mixed; the bakeware is almost equally important. Different materials conduct heat differently, so take this into account when selecting your implement. Metal is good for high heat and anything that needs a crispy exterior (such as pizza crusts, cookies and bread); glass and ceramic heat evenly, making them ideal for brownies, rolls and pies; and silicone is a poor heat conductor that should only be used for light-colored muffins, bread, cakes and similar.

Our favorite metal bakeware set is Rachel Ray’s 10-Piece Steel Set, which includes every size and shape of baking vessel you could possibly want. They’re durable and nonstick, so they check all the boxes. 

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The best thing about this Pyrex 8-Piece Grab Glass Bakeware Set? Each piece has a lid, so it doubles as its own container, making transport easy. Plus, Pyrex is one of the best names in the game.

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Do a temperature check

Even though your oven displays its internal temperature, don’t trust it to be accurate. An oven thermometer will let you get your oven to precisely the temperature called for in your recipe, which is essential for producing the best possible baked goods.

These are cheap and take up next to no space, so if you really want to improve your baking, there’s no excuse for not having one. Rubbermaid makes an extremely affordable model that takes precise measurements and is easy to read.

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Cool it down 

Ot’s easy to get overeager and want to pull your baked goods off the sheet or out of the pan as soon as they leave the oven, but like most things in life, they’ll turn out better if you practice patience. Letting your products fully cool before you move them onto a plate or into a container will give you a better result that’s less likely to crack or crumble. 

While you leave your cakes, pies, loaves and cookies to cool within their bakeware, it’s best to set the pan on a cooling rack so the bottom doesn’t stay warm enough to continue cooking. After a few minutes, you can transfer the product out of its container and directly onto the rack to continue the cooling process.

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Sarah Pitts writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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