When I’m writing a blog post, one of my favorite parts is sharing my baking tips with you in the “Heather’s Helpful Hints” section. Usually I share something I did wrong and try to save you the hassle of figuring it out yourself. Oftentimes, a recipe doesn’t go according to plan and I’m left trying to come up with a creative fix. This has led me to believe that the difference between a good baker and a great baker is that a great baker knows what to do when something unexpected happens in the kitchen.
I’ve been trying to come up with a creative way to catalogue all the tips and hints that I’ve shared over the past two years, which is still a work in progress. However, I thought it would be fun to do a little blog quiz for those of you that often read my posts. Below, I’ve listed six baking-related questions which are all related to a tip that I’ve given in the past. Test out your baking knowledge and then check the answers at the end of this post!
I’d also like to give two thumbs up to this cranberry muffin recipe from Joy the Baker. This was the first time that I’ve tried my hand at making browned butter, and it definitely takes a little bit of practice. However, the depth of flavor that it adds to the muffins is truly wonderful. Cranberries can be a challenge to find in the supermarket this time of year but I had luck finding them in the frozen fruits section.
1. What kind of flour will make your cake the crumbliest?
a) All-purpose flour
b) Cake flour
c) Pastry flour
2. Colorful silicone baking pans are both pretty and versatile. What kinds of temperatures can they handle?
a) 450 degrees Fahrenheit
b) 500 degrees Fahrenheit
c) 550 degrees Fahrenheit
3. What fruit puree is often used as a fat substitute in baking?
b) Banana puree
c) Pumpkin puree
4. True or False: Icing and frosting are the same thing.
6. About how much white flour can you swap out of the average recipe for the whole-wheat variety?
a) One quarter of the white flour can be substituted for whole-wheat flour
b) Half of the white flour can be substituted for whole-wheat flour
c) All of the white flour can be substituted for whole-wheat flour
Browned Butter Cranberry Lime Muffins
Recipe courtesy of Joy the Baker
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 lime
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar for topping
Put a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper or foil liners
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on the butter. Melt and cook down the butter until little brown bits appear in the pan. The crackling will subside and butter will begin to brown fairly quickly after that. Keep a close eye. Remove from heat.
Whisk milk, egg, yolk, vanilla and lime zest until combined. Add the brown butter and whisk to combine.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl Add milk and butter mixture all at one and stir gently to combine. Gently but thoroughly fold in the cranberries.
Divide the batter among muffin cups and spread evenly.
Generously sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Bake until golden and crisp and a wooden pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes then remove from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Heather’s Helpful Hints
It’s pretty easy to overcook browned butter and go from brown to burnt. If the butter starts to blacken, I suggest dumping it and starting over. This YouTube video has an excellent tutorial that will walk you through the process step by step.
Baking Knowledge Quiz Answers
1. Cake flour has the most soft wheat and the least amount of hard wheat of the flours. The result is a lower gluten content. Gluten is the protein in flour that allows it to stretch. So, the less gluten, the more crumble.
2. Silicone baking pans can handle temperature up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. They can also go into the microwave and the dishwasher.
3. Applesauce contains a lot of pectin compared to other fruit purees. Pectin coats the air bubbles and prevents tunnels in your baked goods. But, applesauce is not quite as effective as the fatty shortening it’s replacing.
4. Frosting and icing are not the same. Icing dries hard and you can put a plethora of decorations on top of it, including more icing. Frosting is thicker and easier to mold. Frosting is the tastier of the two.
5. High altitudes can dry out baked goods, so try adding a few extra tablespoons of liquid to compensate. Fat and sugar can weaken the protein in the flour, causing what you’re baking to fall apart.
6. Add some protein, calcium and fiber to your bread by adding whole wheat flour in place of half of the white flour called for in the recipe.