“What is going on?!! I followed the recipe perfectly! Why don’t my bakes ever turn out?!”
Does this sound like you?
You’re not alone!
Most home cooks and bakers feel this way from time to time and it’s not their fault.
The blame lies with these common baking myths circulating the baking community.
Let’s examine the five most deceptive myths in baking below and debunk them so that you can get back to making those fabulous bakes!
Myth #1: It’s okay to measure ingredients by sight
I’m sure we’ve all been tempted to eyeball a few ingredients or add this and that until it looks just right.
But, have you ever heard the phrase “baking is an exact science?”
It really is true! Baking is chemistry.
As your cookies or cakes (or anything else) bakes, the sugars, flours, leaveners and all the other ingredients having chemical reactions to each other.
So, if you change up any of the ratios of different ingredients, you may drastically affect how your bakes turn out.
There are so many things that come into play in how your goodies turn out, but the easiest thing to control is how you measure ingredients.
Unless you are extraordinarily lucky, eyeballing your ingredients will never turn out.
To ensure you have consistently good bakes, you will want to make sure you are using exact measurements by properly measuring your ingredients.
But even measuring cups and spoons can have inconsistent measurements. Sometimes air can be trapped in the cup so you are not using enough ingredients, or too many ingredients if it is too compact in the cup.
The BEST WAY for measuring your ingredients is to use a food scale.
If you measure a cup of flour in your measuring cup three separate times and weigh each cup of flour, you would have three different weights.
But, if you measure out 120 grams of flour, it will ALWAYS measure 120 grams.
Myth #2: Your oven temperature is accurate
It’s too easy to assume that your oven is correct.
But, very few ovens actually run at the accurate temperature, and many ovens only come to the set temperature well after the oven preheat alert beeps.
If you are finding that your bakes are taking too long to fully bake, or that the bake is consistently turning out wrong, you will want to check your oven temperature.
To check your oven you will need to use an external thermometer.
Place the external thermometer on the center rack in the middle of the oven. Set your oven to the correct temperature and allow it to heat for about 20 minutes after the preheat alert goes off.
Whatever the temperature difference is from what you set is the difference your oven is off.
My oven runs about 10°F too cool. So, when I need the oven to heat to 375°F, I will actually set it to 385°F and make sure to allow enough time for it to fully come to temperature before placing my cakes, cookies and other goodies in the oven.
Making this one easy change will make a HUGE difference in how your bakes turn out.
Myth #3: Butter is butter
Did you know that different brands of butter are made slightly differently? Since the butter recipes are different, switching out one brand to another could drastically affect the outcome of your bake.
A couple of years ago I was really struggling to get these delicious soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies to turn out. No matter what I did, the chocolate chips would just sink to the bottom of flat cookies. It didn’t matter what cookie recipe I used, it always turned out the same way – flat as pancakes.
The cheap store brand of butter that I was using had higher water to fat ratio, so when the butter melted it caused the cookies to spread flatter than pancakes.
But, once I changed the butter out for a different brand that had less water in it, the cookies perked right up and turned into these beautiful cookies.
Since I changed to this brand of butter, I have never had this problem again! So, if you are experiencing flat cookies, switching out the butter could greatly improve your cookies (and other treats!)
Myth #4: All bakeware is considered equal
How often do you grab the first baking dish in your cupboard? But, would you be surprised to hear that many pans have their own specific purposes?
There are so many different types of baking dishes. Cake pans can be round, square, or rectangular. You may also use bundt pans, tube pans, and springform pans for some cakes.
Each pan has its own purpose and can affect bakes differently.
And then, you have the material that the pans are made out of.
Whether you are using glass, pyrex, light or dark metal pans will all affect cooking time and how your baked goods turn out.
Even the size and shape of your cake pans will change the amount of time needed to bake your dessert.
The different materials, whether it is glass, ceramic or metal will hold their heat differently so it may become hotter and brown faster.
For example, when you bake cookies, if you use a dark metal cookie pan you may find that the bottoms of the cookies turn a darker shade of brown and even burn easier.
A cake baked in a 9×13 will bake slower than a smaller pan because the batter will fill the pan higher.
So, the 9×13 will bake faster, end up drier, or even burn if it is baked at the same temperature and time as the smaller cake.
Want to have fully baked, moist cakes every time? Check the recipe!
Most recipes will tell you which type of pan to use to make the recipe.
The recipe creator had a successful bake with that particular pan, so your chances of a successful bake are higher if you follow the recipe, use the same pan, and bake it at the correct temperature.
Myth #5: You can bake cookies directly on your pans
While you CAN bake directly on your baking pans, you will have better results using parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Baking directly on the cookie pan will give you darker brown bottoms on your cookies, and you may burn them easier too. Before I started baking a lot I didn’t use a liner and my cookies would get stuck on the pan, and be a huge pain in the you-know-what to wash up.
Most people tend to prefer a silicone baking mat over parchment paper because it is reusable and easy to clean.
I have been using the same mats for years because they are so durable.
Silicone baking mats are also really easy to store. I place them right inside the cookie pans and store the pans in the warming drawer at the bottom of my oven. It doesn’t take up any extra room to use the silicone baking mats!
Congrats, now that we’ve busted these five common myths about baking, you are no longer under their disastrous spell!
Now you can bake delicious cookies, cakes, bars and so much more with confidence knowing that everything will turn out perfectly!
If you loved this post, you’ll love the Total Beginner’s Guide to Baking.
In the Total Beginner’s Guide to Baking, I break down all the things that you should know to be a better baker.
After reading through this guide you will know how to accurately measure any ingredient, and how to measure honey without having it stick to the cup! (Soooo annoying.)
There’s also an article with tips on how to read through recipes. It sets you on the right foot before you even start baking anything.
I have a habit of baking AS I read through the recipe. So, I often miss a step, or screw up something that is explained in more detail lower on the page…. (will I ever learn?!!… Looking at my track record, no, probably not!)
But, you my friend, won’t have to throw out so many ingredients because you have this article to help you through the recipe AND a worksheet to write down the important details before starting.
Anyways, this guide is 22 pages of helpful resources for the beginner AND intermediate baker. I am sure you will find it insanely useful on your baking journey.
Have fun baking!