baking tips | cheats | conversion tips

Tips, tricks & cheats!

December 28, 2007

Okay so, nobody is perfect. I always say it’d be a pretty boring world if we were. People mess up in different ways everyday; thats why there are erasers on pencils. And not everyone has every single ingredient they need for every single recipe at any given moment. I have a tendency to bake at weird hours. I’m a night owl who hates sunlight and prefers to get things done at 3 a.m., so when I decide to bake, lets say, chocolate cupcakes that require buttermilk at 3:15 a.m. on a Monday, and I discover I don’t have buttermilk, I am not discouraged. Because I have these handy-dandy tips and tricks up my sleeve.

And now, young grasshopper, I share them with you. *

Homemade buttermilk:

1 cup milk + 1 tsp white distilled vinegar. Allow to set, or “sour,” for five minutes. Change the quantity based on the amount you need, for example: 2 cups buttermilk = 2 cups milk + 2 tsps white distilled vinegar, and so on.

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk:

Mix 6 cups whole milk with 4 and a ½ cups of sugar, 1 stick of butter, and 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract. Cook over medium heat, reducing liquid, for 1 hour. Stir occasionally. Let cool. This can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for several weeks. (I haven’t tried this yet, but it would’ve come in handy before Christmas when I made those magic bars!)

Self-Rising flour:

Instead of buying self-rising flour, or if you’re like me, and never have any and decide to bake at 4 a.m… its easy to cheat. Its 1 ½ tsps baking powder and ½ tsp salt per cup of self-rising flour needed. Simply take the amount of self rising flour called for in the recipe, use regular flour and add the baking powder and salt, for example, lets say you need 1 cup self rising and one cup regular. Okay, so then you would put in two cups regular flour + 1 ½ tsps baking powder + ½ tsp salt. Got it? Easy.

Homemade brown sugar:

1 cup packed brown sugar = 1 cup sugar + 2 tbsps molasses.

Homemade baking powder:

1 tsp baking powder = ¼ tsp baking soda + ½ tsp cream of tartar.

Saving cupcakes:

If you find yourself with an exorbitant amount of cupcakes, or don’t have time to finish frosting them, or whatever, you can freeze cupcakes for up to 3 months. I myself haven’t done it for that long so I can’t vouch for flavor and texture. But it can be done. An airtight ziplock bag or something similar is recommended, or double wrap in foil or plastic wrap. Freezer burn is the main problem. If you can avoid that, you’re good.

Keeping brown sugar moist:

Brown sugar gets hard, like a friggin brick, if you don’t keep it moist. There are a few ways to do this: place an apple slice in the container is the easiest and cheapest. They do sell terracotta discs meant for this purpose but I’d rather DIY it anyway. Another tip is to place a slice of fresh white bread in the package if it has started to harden. And if its already too far gone- break out the cheese grater.

Recipe Conversions:

I always go here. Its helped me enormously. Its easy, and you can even print out the finished product and save it as an alternate version of the recipe!

I hope these tips help you in some way. Otherwise I just wasted a post. 🙂

*Please note: I didn’t come up with these. I’m not that smart. I gathered them over the past few years/months from different sources.

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