Useful cooking tips for a beginner baker
Beating egg whites
In a large bowl, beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Always be sure your eggs are at room temperature.
A junk drawer full of transportation maps inspired me to put a colourful and educational spin on gifts this year. It saves a few bucks over buying single-use gift wrap and helps the environment a little. If you lack that drawer full of maps, try cutting up old scenic calendars.
Pressing cheesecake crust
Press crust mixture into bottom and 1 inch up sides of a spring form pan.
Using a fine-wire mesh strainer, sift flour into bowl.
Wrap it up
Put ingredients in a decorative jar, layering each. Be sure to place the dry mix in a clear bag before adding. Copy recipe card, and cut out. Glue to a piece of scrapbook or stiff paper. Personalise the card with a chipboard letter, or hole-punch and weave ribbon. Or use festive ribbon, and attach recipe tag to top of jar with clothespin.
Cutting out biscuits
Step#1. Sprinkle a small amount of flour on dough to keep rolling pin from sticking to dough.
Step#2. Roll dough to ¾-inch thickness.
Step#3. Dredge a 2½-inch round cutter in flour to prevent it from sticking to dough.
Step#4. Cut out biscuits, but do not twist cutter.
Cheesecakes should cook until the centre is just set. The centre 3 inches should shake slightly and may still look undercooked. But the edges should be firm and very lightly browned. The cheesecake will continue to cook even after the oven is turned off, and when it chills, it will continue to firm.
Before cutting each slice, dip a sharp knife in hot water. This will give you beautiful, smooth slices.
Quick brown sugar
If you are out of brown sugar, you can add one-tablespoon light molasses to 1 cup granulated sugar.
If you don't have self-rising flour at home, you can make your own by adding 1½ teaspoon salt to 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour. This will give you 1 cup of self-rising flour.
I prefer the taste of salted butter, so that's what I use in all my sweet and savoury recipes, unless otherwise noted. And never, ever substitute whipped butter or margarine in baking recipes.
Be sure that your baking soda is fresh before adding it to cookie batter. Always seal boxes in plastic bags or airtight containers, and be sure to check the expiration date on the bottom of the box.
By Sam Q