Top tips and advice to help you perfect your bakes
It’s that time of the year when the Great British Bake Off is back on our screens, and baking fever grips the nation.
Over the last 18 months or so, thanks to lockdowns, many people have baked more than ever before — it’s no coincidence that “banana bread” was one of the most searched for recipes last year. But to win that coveted apron takes some special skill, and even the most talented bakers can, from time to time, find themselves stymied by some seemingly basic recipes (remember brownie-gate last season?). To help you master some of the techniques frequently put to the test on our favourite baking show, Casey Stoddard, Commercial Director at Burns the Bread bakers in Glastonbury has shared his top tips.
How do you know if you have kneaded bread for long enough?
Kneading bread can be quite a physical task and there are three signs that will tell you when you’re ready to stop.
1 If the dough tears then you need to knead for a bit longer, if it stretches and forms a thin almost see-through layer you’re good.
2 If you press your finger into the dough and it leaves an indent then you need a little longer. The dough should spring back when you’re ready.
3 Your dough should also have a nice smooth texture. If it’s still a bit wet and sticky your dough isn’t ready quite yet.
How do you roll a roulade without it cracking?
Roulades can be extremely basic but look ever so delicious! It’s easiest to roll a roulade when it’s still hot, first, place it on a fresh sheet of baking parchment and start to roll it fairly tightly. The baking parchment will stop the sponge from sticking to itself. Once cooled unroll slowly, this makes it much easier to roll again once you’ve topped with your favourite filling.
How do you prevent a “soggy bottom” when making a pie?
Blind baking is always a pretty good way of ensuring your pie doesn’t have a soggy bottom, but I find baking at a relatively high heat of 220 degrees and then turning the oven down to 180 around halfway through has generally worked for me.
What’s the secret to a perfectly gooey brownie?
Whenever I bake brownies, I always like to underbake them and, brownies can go from perfect to overdone in just a couple of minutes. Peanut Butter Brownies are my favourite!
Does it matter if you bake your cake in the top, middle or bottom of the oven?
Each oven is unique, in the bakery all our deck ovens have a stone base so it’s very different from your oven at home, but as a rule I like to put my cakes in the middle of the oven at home. You want to get a nice even amount of heat around the whole cake.