You can feel the crisp in the air, see the leaves in their blaze of color, and taste the pumpkin spice in your latte. Autumn is all around you, and with it comes fall baking season, the happiest time of the year!
No? Not the happiest time of the year? Is it instead the stressful and overwhelming, “what am I supposed to make now” and the “figure out halfway through that I forgot to buy buttermilk AGAIN” time of the year? We’re going to fix that today.
Fall baking season can be a lot of fun, filled with delicious food, tantalizing smells and the joy of creativity. It just takes some prep ahead of time. Today I’m going to lay out a plan to get you and your kitchen ready to tackle whatever baking project comes your way.
1. Tune Up Your Oven
First things first. Your oven is your number one tool for baking. Unfortunately, many of us neglect to give it the care it needs to perform the way we want it to. In order to get the results you deserve for the work and love you put into your baking, your oven has to be clean and accurate.
Yes. Clean. I know. There is no kitchen task as dreaded as cleaning the oven. The scrubbing, the fumes. It’s not fun, but it’s necessary. Your oven needs to be clear of crud in order for heat waves to bounce off of the surfaces properly. If they’re not, it can produce uneven baking in areas of the oven. Beyond the technical issues with dirty oven walls, there’s also the effect on your experience. That glorious smell of baking bread or apple pie that makes us all so happy is ruined when there’s a smoking puddle of something on the bottom of the oven.
Once you’ve got things all cleaned up, you also need to make sure that your oven temperature is accurate. Just because the dial says 350 doesn’t guarantee that it’s actually 350 in there. It could be 330. Or 370. Get an oven thermometer and test to make sure that 350 on the dial or display is actually 350 inside. If it’s not, you can take a look at your owner’s manual to see if you can calibrate the oven settings, or you can adjust your baking temp when you heat the oven to compensate for the difference. Every oven is different. An oven thermometer is a $7 lifesaver in the kitchen.
2. Give Your Equipment a Check-up
If you haven’t done much baking since last fall and winter, it’s a good idea to take a look at your equipment, make sure it’s all accessible and in good shape. It’s awful to get everything for cheesecake prepped and ready to go, only to then remember that you lent your springform pan to your best friend and never got it back. Ask me how I know.
Here is a list of basics that you want to make sure you have on hand. There are thousands of types of specialty tools, but these foundation items will get you through most recipes:
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cups – both liquid and dry
- Mixing bowls
- Wooden spoons
- Silicone scraper
- Bench scraper
- Cookie scoops
- Pastry brush
- Vegetable peeler and/or paring knife
- Fine mesh sieve for sifting
- Rolling pin
- Food processor
- Stand mixer or hand mixer
- Parchment paper
- Pie pans
- 8 or 9 inch cake pans
- Bread loaf pans
- 8×8 inch baking pan
- 9×13 inch baking pan
- Baking sheets
- Muffin tin
- Bundt pan
- Springform pan
- Cookie cutters
- Pastry bag & tips
- Offset spatula
- Cooling racks
Take a good look at your tools, make sure they’re all in good condition (not rusted or warped, no peeling nonstick surfaces). Replace what needs replacing now, so you’re not scrambling when it’s time to make your Thanksgiving pie or batch of Christmas cookies, You’ll be so glad you did!
In the next post, we’re going to get into phase 2 of baking season prep with the software edition. We’ll be diving into your recipes and baking cabinet, so check it out here!