Below you will find tips and suggestions for baking a variety of desserts. To view the collection of Other Sweet recipes, click on the link provided below and you will be taken to my online recipe binder.
Bring all ingredients to room temperature before mixing.
To soften cream cheese in the microwave: place unwrapped 8 oz. cheese in a microwavable bowl and microwave on high for 15 seconds. Add 15 seconds for each additional bar of cheese.
Mix filling only until combined. Don’t over mix.
Use a spring form pan so that the sides can be removed.
If no Spring form is available, use a cake pan and turn the cheesecake upside down to release when completely cooled.
Use a metal spatula to loosen edges of cheesecake immediately after removing the cheese cake from the oven.
When baking, place spring form pan on a shallow pan, like a pizza pan , and cover cheesecake bottom up one inch around the sides with aluminum foil to avoid leaks in the oven.
Bake cheesecakes in a water bath OR place a shallow pan of water in rack below cheesecake to keep oven moist.
Don’t open oven door while baking.
A perfectly baked cheesecake will be puffed around the edges. When shaken, about an inch in diameter in the center should jiggle.
Cool slowly (about an hour) on a wire rack, away from any drafts.
Store in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for up to four days.
The bottom of the pan can be removed from the cheesecake once the cake has firmed in the refrigerator. Use a spatula to move cake to serving platter.
Garnishing a cheesecake should only be done within 1 to 3 hours of serving.
Securely wrap an already firm, (about 4 hours in the refrigerator) cheesecake to be put in the freezer. Cheesecakes can be kept for up to 2 months in the freezer.
Thaw frozen cheesecake overnight in the refrigerator.
Measure Flour Correctly. This is the most important tip for any baker. Adding too much flour will make your baked goods tough and dry. And be sure to not overwork the dough; mix just until the flour disappears. Pull back on flour if your batter has reached the right consistency.
Chill the Dough Before Baking. Chilling the dough helps softer doughs keep their shape and makes the dough easier to work with. Chilling the dough improves the flavor and allows the dough to relax a bit.
Use a scoop. To ensure uniformity, use a scoop when placing cookies on a baking sheet pan.
Make a test cookie. Before baking an entire batch of cookies, bake off two or three cookies to see results. There may be hot spots in an oven, cookies may bake slower or faster than a recipe claims. Before baking an entire batch, it’s best to sacrifice a few for testing.
Soften Butter Properly. It’s difficult to soften butter properly in a microwave oven; too often part of the butter melts, which will change the structure of the cookies. Butter and sugar form the basic structure of the cookies; the sugar cuts small air pockets into the butter, which are stabilized by the flour and filled with CO2 from the baking powder. Soften butter by letting it stand at room temperature overnight. You can also grate the butter into a bowl. It will soften in thirty to forty minutes.
Freeze Dough. Making and freezing doughs ahead of time not only is a great time saver, but it improves the texture of the cookies. Icebox cookies are shaped into a log, wrapped, and chilled or frozen until it’s time to bake. Drop cookie dough balls can be refrigerated/frozen, then baked. If frozen, add a few minutes to the baking time.
Make sure that all of your ingredients are fresh. Buy new baking powder and baking soda, vanilla and spices, flour and sugar. Most of us don’t bake often during the year, and it’s a good bet that your ingredients are more than a year old. Old ingredients will result in a cookie with less flavor, and possibly, compromised texture.
Set the timer for 2-3 minutes less than the cooking time called for in the recipe. Take cookies out of the oven just as they’re beginning to look done because the residual heat from the cookie sheet will continue to bake the cookies. This is referred to as carry over cooking. Also, slightly underbaked cookies are more tender and moist.
Use anInsulated Cookie Sheet or two layers of Parchment Paper when baking on a sheet pan. One of the biggest problems with baking cookies is they can get too brown on the bottom. Insulated cookie sheets/Parchment paper prevent over browning, ensuring cookies turn out perfectly every time.