When I started cooking and baking, I still recollect the curries that didn’t turn out well, burnt cakes ,dry cupcakes etc. Here I would like to share the tips and tricks I learnt hard way, few I learnt from fellow cooks and bakers.

I have divided them into different sections for ease of reading. Do let me know which one you tried today 😃

Baking Tips

  1. Recently few of my friends asked me that they wanted to start baking cakes but weren’t sure on all the appliances and pans they need to invest on so here is my take for beginners – Hand Mixer, whisk,Measuring cups,weighing scale, Non stick loaf pan, 1 cake pan, baking tray, spatula brush,parchment paper. Either buy a cup cake tray or silicon cupcake moulds.  Rest of the pans etc you can purchase as you proceed with your baking experiments
  2. Yes , weighing scale is important for baking , when ingredients are measured precisely, the recipe always comes out perfect. I have often seen even measuring cups vary so its best to invest on digital weighing scale
  3. Oven Thermometer is your friend if you have a new oven or baking a recipe for the first time, each oven is calibrated differently. My IFB Microwave Convection requires baking at 150-160 deg cel while my Morphy Richards require baking at 180-190 deg cel for the same recipe hence it’s necessary to understand your oven
  4. Always spoon and level all the ingredients.
  5. Ingredients should be at room temperature unless recipe calls in for cold or hot ingredients
  6. Always keep ingredients ready before the baking process begins
  7. Most of the times, you come across Cake flour in ingredients list. Here is simple and inexpensive way to do it. For every 1 cup of all purpose flour, remove 2 tbsp and add 2 tbsp corn flour. Mix this well and now sieve mixture twice. Cake flour is ready. Depends on the quantity required, double or triple the measurements
  8. Baking powder/ Baking Soda should be used as per recipe.
  9. While experimenting with cake/cupcakes/muffins recipes, do not go completely adventurous. Do not replace 2-3 ingredients at a time. Replace 1 ingredient at a time, check the results. If you replace more than 1 ingredient and if the outcome is not as desired then you will never know what went wrong
  10. I have been asked often if we can directly replace All purpose flour (APF) with Gluten free flour, the answer is NO. You cannot do direct replacements. 1 cup Buckwheat flour is not same as 1 cup APF. Gluten free flours lack binders so you will need binders and the quantity also needs to be tweaked
  11. If Cupcakes are often dry and crumbly, it means you need to increase the quantity of wet ingredients in the recipe and make the batter moist
  12. It’s always best to refrigerate cookie dough atleast 30 minutes before baking. Cold cookie doughs give best results
  13. Always grease measuring cups before use for measuring out sticky ingredients like honey, peanut butter etc.
  14. Butter is the starting point for an immense amount of baked goods, so it’s important to get it right as the recipe suggests. The temperature of butter can dramatically affect the texture of baked goods. There are three different stages of butter : 1. softened (room temperature) 2. Chilled, and 3. Melted and cooled.
  15. Always cool cake upside down. This will flatten out the tops, creating easy-to-stack disks for layer cakes. 
  16. Cling wrap the cakes and chill for 1 hour before slicing the layers. Never slice hot or room temperature cake into layers
  17. No matter what is the expiry date, its best to use baking powder, baking soda, yeast within 6 months of opening the bottle
  18. Always store baking powder, soda,yeast, gelatin etc in air tight container in Refrigerator for longer shelf life
  19. For Self Raising Flour – Mix 1 cup flour and 2 teaspoon baking powder. Now sieve this mixture thrice and store in airtight container. Use as required. You can always double or triple the quantity as required
  20. Ground Oats to fine powder and sieve it, Oats flour is ready. It’s best to roast homemade Oats flour before storing, this will help in longer shelf life
  21. When whipping cream, add sugar when the cream has almost formed peaks, this will help the cream whip to a higher volume. Do not add sugar at the beginning while whipping the cream
  22. Use damp tea towel and wrap on the sides of the tin, this will prevent cake dome formation and ensure even baking
  23. If your cake browns too quickly, then cover the top with aluminum foil for first 15-20 minutes of baking
  24. Butter and sugar should be creamed together for atleast 6-7 minutes or more, this is the very key step in baking. Never hurry up this process
  25. I had come across this so thought it might be helpful – Substitute for egg
  • 1 egg = 1/4 cup curd + 1 tsp Vinegar (Vinegar to be used only in cakes and cupcakes)
  • 1 egg = 1 tbsp powdered flax seeds + 3 tbsp water mix and keep for 15-20 mins and whisk to form foamy texture
  • 1 egg = 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg = 1/4 cream cheese / pureed paneer
  • 1 egg = 1/4 cup mashed banana or any other fruit pulp
  • 1 egg = 1/4 cup peanut butter

Cooking Tips

  1. Store grated coconut in airtight container in freezer. It will remain fresh for 1-2 months
  2. Clean fish and apply salt and vinegar. Now store in airtight container in freezer. It will remain fresh for 1 week
  3. If you do not have full fat milk and if the recipe calls for it then substitute it with 1 cup Low fat milk mixed with 2 tbsp cream or 2 tbsp unsalted melted butter
  4. Use spoon rather than knife to remove the skin of ginger
  5. Soak sliced/chopped Onions for 15 minutes in water to remove it’s overpowering raw taste while making salads
  6. Warm up garlic cloves, this will help in peeling skin easily
  7. Refrigerate onions for 15 mins before slicing, this will lead to tear free slicing
  8. Add unsalted wheat flour dough balls or halved raw potatoes to reduce the salt in curries while cooking. Just before serving, remove the cooked potato/dough balls. Alternatively while making any dairy based curries or coconut curries, you can add milk/cream or coconut milk to reduce the salt in excess salted curries
  9. If the milk has started burning from the bottom while preparing the dessert, do not stir it. Remove the top unburnt portion to other container. Now cook this milk by adding 1 small betel leaf, this will remove the burnt smell and taste from dessert
  10. Adding 1 tbsp semolina (Sooji) to flour while making puri dough will lead to Crispier puris
  11. Add little rice flour to the batter while making fritters/pakoras, this will make fritters crispy and less oily
  12. Add little lemon juice while cooking rice, this will help in retaining bright color to the rice and prevent rice grains from sticking.
  13. Adding little oil while cooking rice will help in preventing rice grains from sticking to each other
  14. Add little gram flour (besan) to yogurt and whisk well before adding to any yogurt based curry/gravy, this will prevent yogurt from curdling while cooking

Storing Tips

  1. Always add 2-3 cloves in sugar container, this will prevent ant from entering the container
  2. Roast Semolina (Sooji/Rava) before storing, this will help for longer shelf life
  3. Once bag of flour like maize etc is opened , it’s best to store them immediately in air tight container and refrigerate. If you have space shortage then refrigerate the flour atleast for 3 days, then add 2-3 cloves in container and store in cool dry place. This will prevent worms from attacking the flour
  4. Always remove the stalks of green chilies before storing , this will help in storing them for longer periods
  5. Place over ripe tomatoes in slightly salted cold water overnight. Next day, discard the water, Tomatoes will be firm to touch
  6. Before storing any left over dough in refrigerator, always coat the dough with oil, this will prevent it from drying out