How do you start learning to bake?

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AskTheChef

How do you start learning to bake? Learning to bake at home is surprisingly easy. Baking is more of a science and has less room for error compared to cooking. I like to bake when I know I am going to be spending the day at home. Depending on your recipe, it can be something you can start and walk away from, but I find I am always wanting to check on the process to make sure everything is going okay.

I recently discovered that I love to bake. The aroma of having a fresh baked loaf of bread in your house is intoxicating and who knows, maybe baking can be your new hobby too. In this article, I will go over simple pantry ingredients and equipment you’ll need to have on hand, the world of bread, as well as some simple sweet desserts. I will also showcase some different cake recipes.

Getting Started: Equipment for Baking

When baking, you do need certain equipment, or you will not get the same results. I’ll recommend everything that I have and use regularly in my kitchen. Some items are on the more expensive side, but I’ll be sure to mention some more affordable options.

Kitchen Aid Mixer (or Hand Mixer)

If you can afford it, purchase a Kitchen Aid Mixer. They are incredibly versatile and are great pieces of equipment for any kitchen. A Hand Mixer is a cheaper option, but is pretty much a high-powered whisk, nothing special.

Cast Iron Dutch Oven

If you are baking bread at home, it is particularly important to have a good Dutch Oven if you want to develop a flavourful and crispy crust. These are more expensive but necessary when baking delicious bread.

Measuring Cup and Measuring Spoons

You must have these. Every recipe is either scaled out by weight or by volume, you simply cannot bake without these two pieces of equipment. They are not expensive and can be found at your local kitchen supply store.

Large Mixing Bowls x2

Most baking recipes require you to mix something by hand, whether it be a pie crust or melting chocolate, Mixing Bowls will come in handy. They are generally available in a set of different sizes.

Scale

Another must have piece of equipment. Most online baking recipes are in grams, if you do not have a scale you cannot bake. In the past, I’ve purchased cheap scales and have spent so much money continuously replacing the batteries. I recommend spending some money on your scale, a good one that will last a while should cost anywhere between $60-$100.

Smallware’s: Piping Bags, Spatula, Whisk, Sifter, Thermometer, Cake Tester

Your stockpile of small pieces of equipment will increase overtime. The items listed above are all very affordable and great for beginners.

Getting Started: Pantry Ingredients

Your pantry ingredients for baking will never go bad. If you have the space I recommend buying in bulk, you will save money and always have resources in your kitchen ready to go. I also buy large plastic and/or glass containers to keep my pantry organized. I even go one step further and label my containers, not necessary but satisfying to look at.

The following list is ingredients I purchase in bulk and always have ready in my pantry. It may seem like a lot to have around, but as you start baking you will find that many recipes call for these ingredients.

  • All Purpose Flour, Bread Flour, and Cake Flour
  • Granulated Sugar, Brown Sugar, and Icing Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract and Maple Syrup
  • Baking Powder and Baking Soda
  • Chocolate: White, Dark, Milk
  • Nuts and Oats

Bread Baking

Making my own bread is something I am passionate about. You get a much higher quality loaf compared to your local grocery store. I also find I’m eating less bread if I take the time to make it myself, which is good for my waistline. The world of bread is vast and endless. You can enhance flavour of your loaf by making your own sourdough starters, using different types of flour, or even milling grains to make your own flours. Purchasing a tabletop grain mill can be quite expensive and requires advanced techniques.

Joshua Weissmen has a fantastic in-depth video breaking down how to make your own sourdough starter:

Once you have your starter alive and well, you can now make the sourdough loaf. Watch this video:

There is simpler loafs of bread you can make at home if you do not want to spend days making sourdough. Focaccia is my personal favourite, Jamie Oliver has a great recipe and video:

Simple Desserts

Desserts do not have to be the tub of ice cream you keep in the freezer. Don’t get me wrong, ice cream is delicious and important, but there is a wide variety of simple sweet desserts you can make at home in no time. Little Lime Bakery has amazing recipes with fantastic pictures and detailed instruction. I recently made her Brown Butter Blondies and they were delicious. Here are some recipes that I have personal experience with, and some I have found online that look to be almost effortless.

Cake Recipes

Have you ever wanted to impress your friend for their birthday? Maybe try to save some money for your kid’s party and make the cake yourself? It’s easier than you think, but you do need some further equipment.

Cake Pans and a Cake Turntable are essential if you’re going for a nice rounded cake with multiple tiers. Tiering cakes can be a little more advanced, but if you follow this simple YouTube tutorial you will be fine.

Here are some recipes for Sheet Cakes, they are simpler, require less equipment and can be just as impressive.

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