Is there anything worse than spending hours in the kitchen baking a new dessert only to find out in the end that your dessert is a total bust and you have no idea what happened? Here are a few of the top baking fails and what to watch out for if you find yourself wondering what happened.
1. The Oven Wasn’t Preheated – Trying to bake in an oven that hasn’t reached the desired temperature can affect the rise and texture. Baking needs to be at a specified temperature for a reason, an oven that isn’t preheated will bake at an inconsistent temperature. Always start by setting your oven temperature right at the beginning of starting your recipe. Also, avoid opening the oven door too often. The heat escapes quickly, and the oven temperature can drop which will affect the baking process. Meringues and pavlovas particularly are affected by the temperature drop which can make them ‘flop.’
2. Overmixing or not Mixing Properly – It is very important to follow the instructions on how to mix ingredients together. A lot of baking requires folding, light mixing, etc. which will ultimately affect the outcome of your baked good. This is commonly overlooked when following a recipe. The baker uses terminology and techniques to make sure you have the best outcome possible.
3. Measurements Were Off or Guessed – Sometimes we are tempted to guess the amount and simply dump what we think is the appropriate amount into our mixture. Following the recipe is vital to having a successful turnout, and that means measuring all the measurements exactly as the recipe says. Baking is not as forgiving as cooking! Overpouring can happen easily and can distort the taste as well as the consistency. Keep separate measuring cups for liquid and dry ingredients. Scales are great tools to have the most precise and consistent measurements!
4. The Eggs Whites Won’t Behave – Beaten egg whites are used to create meringue and air into baking. After mixing, eggs should appear glossy, fluffy and doubled in size. If yolk gets in your egg whites it can upset the balance of the egg whites resulting in a ‘flop’. The fat from the yolk destabilizes the foam. Room temperature egg whites will mix better. Also make sure your bowl has no grease residue in it and is wiped clean, again the fat will destabilize the foam.
5. Ingredients Are Expired – Check the expiration date of your ingredients, especially on rising agents. Baking powder is commonly used and it does expire. It will affect the rise of your baking. If you are concerned that your baking powder isn’t working, mix about four tablespoons of hot water with one teaspoon of the powder and see if it bubbles right away. If it does, it is still good.