The tips apply to cookies, muffins, bread and anything else you’re baking.
Use The Best. Always use high quality ingredients, such as pure vanilla extract and fresh, unsalted butter. The better your ingredients, the better your results. While saving money is tempting, your time and effort deserve the most delicious outcome.
Read Up. Read the entire recipe before beginning. You’ll want to review it enough in advance to be sure that if you’re missing an ingredient or a utensil, you have time to get it.
Assemble. Assemble all of the ingredients on the counter before starting, so you are aware of anything that’s missing. This is your mise en place—you’ve heard TV cheftestants refer to it.
Follow. The first time you prepare it, carefully follow the directions and prepare the recipe exactly as written. You can try variations next time.
Measure. Measure ingredients accurately. Use dry measuring cups for solids and glass measuring cups for liquids. Baking is chemistry: Don’t “approximate” or you won’t get the proven result.
Don’t Switch. Always use the size pan specified in the recipe. If your pan isn’t the right size, the baking time won’t be accurate.
Thermometer. Use an oven thermometer and check your oven temperature for accuracy. If possible, adjust the thermostat on the oven properly.
Check. Take a quick peek one or two minutes before the timer goes off. Your oven may bake faster than others. And remember, carryover heat will continue to cook when removed from the oven. The larger and denser the item, the greater the amount of carryover cooking. (That’s why roasts and turkeys need to rest before carving, to allow heat to distribute from the warmer outside to the cooler middle, which allows the juices to distribute throughout the meat.)