If you have been reading here awhile, you may have noticed I have a particular fondness for Donna Hay recipes as they are so sophisticated and simple, yet I purchased my first cookbook by the Barefoot Contessa and became an immediate fan. In Ina Garten’s cookbook, Back to Basics, she shares some really wonderful tips at each chapter. Read below her tips on how to bake like a pro:
1. Measure all the ingredients carefully.
2. Fluff the flour with your measuring cup before you measure it.
3. Level off the measuring cup with a straight knife or metal spatula.
4. Use dry measures for dry ingredients, such as flour and sugar, and liquid measures for wet ingredients, such as milk or sour cream.
5. Bring butter and eggs fully to room temperature before using them to bake a cake. You could leave them out of the refrigerator overnight, but they need at least 2 hours on the counter to come to room temperature.
6. Beat the butter, sugar, and eggs on high speed, until light and fluffy. Add the flour on low speed and, from that point point, mix the batter only as much as necessary to combine the ingredients. You don’t want to develop the gluten in the flour by overbeating it.
7. Test your oven with an over thermometer each time you bake, don’t trust the dial!
8. Line your baking pans with parchment paper. There’s no point to baking something if you can’t get it out of the pan.
9. Bake in the middle of the oven, unless otherwise specified, for the best heat circulation, and don’t overcrowd the oven.
10. Don’t overbake! When a cake recipe says to bake for 20 to 25 minutes, start checking the cake with the wood skewer after 18 minutes.
Tri-berry Oven Pancakes
* 1 cup each raspberries, blueberries, and sliced strawberries
* 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 4 teaspoons for the dishes
* 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
* 1/2 cup milk
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
* 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
* Maple syrup and confectioners’ sugar, for garnish.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Gently combine the berries and sugar in a small bowl and set aside while you make the pancakes. Place 4 (6- to 7-inch) individual gratin dishes on two sheet pans. Place 1 teaspoon of butter in each gratin dish and set aside.
Place the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until mixed. Add the milk and combine. Slowly add the flour, vanilla, orange zest, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and the salt and mix just until smooth. Whisk by hand if the mixture is lumpy.
Place the gratin dishes in the oven for 3 minutes, until the butter is hot and bubbly. Make sure the butter covers the bottom of each dish Immediately divide the batter equally among the gratin dishes and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned. Divide the berries among the dishes, drizzle with maple syrup, dust with confectioners’ sugar, and serve hot.
Images: Tumblr, Le Creuset [in Caribbean Blue] & Utensil Set, Tips and Recipe from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics.