Monday, 16 October 2017

Things I've Learned Since I Started Baking

I have not been baking for very long at all. The first time I made something by myself was back in February, when I baked a packet mix cake and attempted to pipe buttercream roses onto it. It didn't work, but I still learnt something - just like I do every time I try out a new recipe. 

Most of the things I learn are probably quite well-known; believe me when I say that I was less than a novice when I decided I wanted to give baking a try, so even the smallest things were brand new to me.

Like all good students who are trying to learn something new, I made notes. I wrote down anything that wrong, what I should try next time, and any little tips and tricks that I discovered along the way. I'm going to share some of those notes with you today. 

It'd be great if someone could learn something from these notes, but I am also partly sharing them just so we can all get a laugh out of my mistakes. I really hope in the future I can come back to this post and smile at how much of a beginner I was, and see just how far I have come.


1. Shortcuts almost never work. In other words, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. I'm looking at you, writing icing in a tube!

2. When you think your icing is thick enough to pipe into a certain shape without it running, think again - and make it thicker.

3. Trying to decorate something to look like a person or character - or pretty much anything that has to look a certain way - is very difficult. Decorating something to just be colourful and pretty is much easier.

4. When using a piping bag, make sure your icing is packed tightly inside. There's nothing worse than having little air pockets throughout your mixture to mess you up whilst you're trying to ice a cake.

5. Remember to take your butter out of the fridge. I am so bad at this. I get myself all ready to bake something, then I realise the butter is still in the fridge, rock solid. On days that I forget, the first butter-softening hack on this list comes in handy, but I still need to get on top of remembering to take it out beforehand! I have also been told that you should take your eggs out of the fridge before you use them as well, although I don't always bother with this rule.

6. You don't have enough icing. Trust me, you just don't.

7. Read the comments. You've got to remember that most of the people who post recipes online are professional, or are at least pretty damn close. They know what they're doing, they know what mistakes to avoid, but you most likely don't. 

Reading the comments of other novice baker-wannabes like yourself will help you understand what issues they had, and how they fixed it - or if the recipe is just too damn hard, which sometimes it is! I've completely avoided recipes whose comment sections are filled with feedback that the outcome was nothing like the picture. I like a challenge, but if that many people had trouble with it, then I surely will too!

8. Let your cake cool completely before icing it. Do a crumb layer first, then leave that to set before doing your pretty layer. These are both such important steps if you want a beautifully iced cake, but if you're extremely impatient like me, they will be hard to get used to!

9. If you can, mix in food colours with a mixer to ensure that it is mixed in properly. Too many times have I began icing a cake only to realise half of the icing is still white!

I am well aware that I have still have a million and one more things to learn when it comes to baking. I have barely scratched the service on what it's like to work with dough - I haven't even tried making any kind of pastry yet! I am also yet to make royal icing the right consistency to pipe pretty pictures and patterns onto cookies like everyone else seems to be able to do, but I know I'll get there in time.

I have wanted to get into baking since I was little, and I am so glad I have finally started. I have collected baking items for years and never used them, and now I am on a mission to use them all (that's proving to be a little difficult though, as I just keep buying more!). I have discovered that I love creating in the kitchen - which really shouldn't be a surprise, since I've always loved creating. I've already improved so much in 8 short months, and I can only go further from here! I hope you all stick around to see what delicious creations I (try to) whip up 😋

Until next time,
Indya xx
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