"When cracking eggs open, break into a small bowl. If you get a piece of shell in, use a bigger piece of shell to scoop it out - it will attract like a magnet."
We have so much talent within our Westgold Great Bakers Facebook group, so we decided to round up some of the handy hacks, tools and tips that have been sprinkled throughout the page recently. Have a read of them below; there will be something of use we are sure. If you haven’t already, come and join our Facebook Great Bakers community.
A peculiar item to have in the kitchen but we thought it was worth sharing. Our Great Baker Kearin Armstrong let us in on why it’s so important. “You always need to cover your dough and the shower cap is just the right size for keeping moisture in, and you can use it over and over again. None of that single-use plastic wrap”. There you go, two birds with one stone; baking genius, tick! enviro-friendly, tick!
We get it, being a whizz in the kitchen sometimes requires specialised tools, but occasionally a cheaper (read ‘innovative’) alternative will suffice. Next time you’re at the hardware store, grab some natural bristle paintbrushes. They work perfectly as a pastry brush and can handle the dishwasher too.
Rolling out pastry can be messy business… flour everywhere, dough sticking to the bench, sticking to your hands, to the rolling pin, to your hair! (or is that just me?) A great tip one Westgold Great Baker Jackie Farrelly reported to help keep the kitchen less messy is to roll pastry out between two sheets of baking paper. Once it’s at the desired thickness, you can just peel one layer of baking paper off and pop it straight into the dish.
Ever had company turn up on short notice only to realise you haven’t got milk to make anything? Don’t panic. Thanks to great baker Carol Ferrier’s advice: “3 Tbsp of milk powder in the scone mix and mix dry ingredients with water!” Viola! Crisis Averted.
Next time you whip up your favourite scone recipe, try grating cold or frozen butter and then rubbing it in to the dry ingredients for speedy, easy mixing.
You know those moments when you think “why did I not have one of these before?”. The dough scraper will be one of those moments. Its abilities are not confined to its name; it can also divide dough, move it around, and scrape things out of the bowl too. The scraper is fantastic for working with icing to achieve a nice smooth finish, plus it will become your new best friend when it comes to clean-up time. Try it on the bench to scrape off the spills and splatters.
If you are like us, you’ll have several different scissors in your household, and you may also strictly enforce their areas of use. All kitchens must have a pair of heavy-duty kitchen scissors. Kitchen scissors are not just for herbs, they can cut many things from marshmallow to bacon to a whole cooked chicken. If you are selective in your purchase, they can come apart and go straight in the dishwasher too.
Put one of these on the bottle, you’ll thank us later. We are talking bottles of oils, vinegar or whatever you have near the stove, or even the dressings you use often.
Some people say that as a guest, you should sit down, relax, read a book… but when you’re an avid baker, that’s easier said than done. Our Westgold Great Bakers love baking for friends and family when away on holiday and to make the experience that much easier in a new kitchen, a portable digital scale is the way to go. Kenneth Garcia-Smith found this wee gem;
We are told that if you’ve ever tasted anything out of a wood burning oven you’ll know that it just adds that special bit of ‘je ne sais quoi’ a conventional oven doesn’t have. Our Westgold Great Baker Jackie Farrelly is lucky enough to have one and swears that “everything is better cooked in a wood burner oven. Roasts are never dry, biscuits are crunchy and stay that way, bread rises more during cooking, I love it.”
Stop chasing that tiny piece of eggshell around the side of the bowl. Westgold Great Baker, Adrienne Jones has a remedy for when you don’t crack that egg right: “When cracking eggs open, break into a small bowl. If you get a piece of shell in, use a bigger piece of shell to scoop it out - it will attract like a magnet. Likewise for a small scar of yolk when separating yolks & whites.”
Sometimes life is crazy, which means that baking up a storm every week isn’t always realistic. Stocking up for those busy weeks by making double (or triple) cookie batches is a great option. Roll the dough up in baking paper or put in a zip lock bag and store in the freezer.
Always use eggs at room temperature for baking! Why? Mainly because they have less viscosity than cold eggs so will mix into the batter more easily and also help the rise.
Baking is a science, as well as an art. When it comes to colouring your baking, sometimes that perfect consistency can become off-balance with that extra liquid added. If you want to have great control over the consistency of your baking, use a colouring paste instead of a liquid.