Almost every experienced home cook has an arsenal of tips for preparing homemade desserts which she has amassed through years of trial and error. Knowing a few of the most useful tips can help even beginning cooks prepare homemade desserts with ease. First of all, whether measuring ingredients, choosing a pan, or setting the oven temperature, when it comes to making homemade desserts, it is important to remember that numbers count. Additionally, home cooks should always make sure that their ingredients are fresh and should use caution when making substitutions. Finally, many cooks find that washing as they go and using pan liners can take the aggravation out of cleaning up.
An oversized pan can result in an overcooked cake, while a scanty measure of baking soda can lead to muffins that fail to rise. In other words, when preparing homemade desserts, it is extremely important to abide by the numbers specified in a recipe. This is especially true for beginning cooks who do not understand how fluctuations in temperature, ingredient quantity, or container size will cause foods to “behave.” To prevent dessert disappointments, home cooks should keep their kitchens stocked with a range of baking pans and trays as well as good quality measuring spoons and cups. An oven thermometer is another useful tool which can help cooks ensure that the temperature shown on their oven display is accurate.
For best results when preparing homemade desserts, it is also important to make sure that all ingredients are fresh before they are used in a recipe. This is because certain ingredients which have passed their “best before” date may produce an undesirable taste, texture, or smell, while others may prevent batters and doughs from rising properly. On a related note, home cooks who find that they have run out of a certain ingredient should consult a reliable cooking guide before making substitutions. Certain common substitutions, such as using applesauce instead of vegetable oil, can alter the amount of other ingredients, such as liquids or sugars, that should be used.
Lastly, some cooks find that their least favorite part of preparing homemade desserts is washing a pile of dirty mixing bowls, spatulas, and baking pans. To reduce cleanup time, cooks may wish to line baking sheets with parchment paper or reusable silicone sheets prior to use. Washing a few dishes during “down times” in the dessert preparation process, such as when dough is rising or a pie is baking, can also make cleanup seem less overwhelming.