Baking made easier!-A A +A
Pots and Pans
Thursday, May 22, 2014
IN THE art of cooking, there are thousands of ways to make dinner faster and simpler. It also gives you a myriad of choices varying from freshly cut and prepared, marinated meat, to canned and all in-betweens.
Meanwhile, baking offers you limited choices just enough to make one busy for a couple of months.
A lot of ambitious aspirants as I have observed, wanted to try and invest their time, passion and new-found skills in baking rather than cooking.
And I welcome all of you to this delightful, breathtaking yet multifaceted world of baking!
As it has been said, baking is an exact science. This means that the measurements must be precise to get the end product right.
Although personally, after all these years, I can already approximate the ingredients using ordinary cups, glasses or even my palms. Guess it comes with experience.
At any rate, a piece of dessert is always the last to be served. Save the best for last, as the saying goes.
And of course, we wanted to impress our friends, family and guests with this ultimate sweet as their “sera-gana.”
But then not all of us will have the time or patience to do the meticulous measurements of the dry and wet ingredients like flour, salt, sugar, butter, milk, baking powder, baking soda, chocolate, eggs, cream and others needed for this ‘piece de resistance.’
Plus, one can just imagine the many pieces of bowls, plates, spoons, and baking utensils to be used and washed afterwards!
So what do we have? A wide array of pre-mixes available commercially in supermarkets and stores that come in boxes or cans, and chilled or frozen.
This should be a great start for the aspiring bakers because chances are all that is needed to whip up a great cake, brownie, cookie, bread and other pastries would merely be the addition of some eggs, milk or water, oil or butter, and maybe some flavoring to enhance the batter.
And, a sprinkling of little patience.
Advantageously, most won’t even need a commercial mixer.
Maybe a hand mixer or wooden spoon, basically found at home, will be enough to make the mixture.
Now, what choices do we have?
First on the list would be cakes. Chocolate cakes in all variations: yellow cakes, marble cakes, angel food cakes, carrot cakes, apple cinnamon cakes, pumpkin cakes, pound cakes, butter cakes, ginger bread, red velvet, orange, vanilla, etc.
Then we also have assorted brownies (decadent, moist, etc.) and cookie (like chocolate chips, oatmeal, sugar, peanut butter) mixes.
A lot of specialty stores also have come up with their own store-blend of mixes which can include pudding mix, fruity, nutty mixes and so much more.
Muffins and cupcake mixes like blueberry, banana, strawberry and other seasonal flavors are also prominently found on the shelves.
Pie crust, pie shell, puffed pastry, cinnamon roll, pancakes, biscuits, scones, pretzels, doughnut and quite a few more adds to our exciting list of what we can bake.
Prepared pie shell gives you the choice of making your own stuffing or out of the can fruit filling like blueberry, cherry, strawberry, poppy seeds, pineapple and apple.
Pancakes can be elevated to a higher level when the batter is sprinkled with cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves, or even fruits of your choice.
Puff pastry can be made into croissant, pies, Danish, turn-overs and cinnamon-sugar sticks.
Just follow ALL the instructions on the label and everything will be alright. And perfect.
However, it just doesn’t stop there.
One can be creative in the pre-mixes by adding chopped nuts or fruits, some can even use fresh fruits, addition of cocoa powder or chocolate chips, coffee, milk instead of water, butter instead of oil, crushed candies and other flavorings and coloring for that added zest and pizzazz!
Cake mixes can be made into cupcakes and cupcake mixes into cakes.
Most cake mixes also comes with the needed ingredients as stated in the box.
Although some printed photos on the box are merely ideas for the bakers to follow.
The right temperature of the oven and the timing is crucial to come up with a soft, moist, crunchy or cake-y piece of art.
More baking time makes the item more dry, while some would go for under-baking to retain moisture thus making it soft and moist.
Layering two cake mixes or swirling it with one another can create a striking dessert.
But make sure they are of the same “family,” cake with cake mixture, brownie with brownie mixture, etc.
Top it with nuts, chips, marshmallows or your favorite frosting to make it look more exciting.
Again, commercially-prepared frostings are also available in vanilla, chocolate, coffee, buttercream, cream cheese, lemon flavors.
Another choice will be fondant, which is the craze right now.
Spike it with a little alcohol like rum, brandy, champagne and the like for those alcohol lovers.
There you have it, some more ideas with your prepared mixes. Be creative, let your imagination take control and come up with your “own” dessert.
Besides, you baked it yourself, spent time and effort in the preparation, baking and doing the finishing touches.
So therefore, it is YOUR “creation”!
Welcome to the wonderful world of baking!
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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 22, 2014.