A baker's dozen secrets

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Here are 13 secrets that will have you baking like the pros.

1. Check your oven

Use an inexpensive oven thermometer to check the temperature of your oven. It’s not uncommon for ovens to run 25 to 50 degrees too hot or too cool. Once you have an accurate temperature reading, adjust your oven control accordingly.

2. Choose quality ingredients

For the best flavor rely on fresh, top-quality ingredients. For example, choose real butter, fresh lemon juice and real extracts (versus imitation).

3. Buy “eggsactly” the right size

Recipe developers commonly use large eggs as the standard for recipes. So do the same when making baked goods and save the medium and jumbo eggs for omelets.

4. Replace seasonings and spices

The fresher the spices, the fresher the flavor. Dried herbs and seasoning blends last one to three years, while ground spices last two to three years.

5. Measure accurately

Spoon flour into a dry measuring cup or spoon until it’s overflowing. Then level it off with a straight edge. Pack brown sugar into a cup or spoon; then level it off. For liquid ingredients, use a glass or clear plastic measure. Pour the desired amount, watching at eye level.

6. Measure sticky ingredients mess-free

Spray a liquid measuring cup with nonstick cooking spray before measuring sticky ingredients like honey and molasses. It will release easily and entirely.

7. Keep two sets of measuring spoons on hand

Designate one set for dry ingredients and one set for liquid. That way, the dry ingredients won’t stick in the wet spoons.

8. Choose the best baking pan for the job

Shiny, light colored baking pans reflect heat, making them a good choice when baking cookies or biscuits. Darker pans absorb heat in the oven, so they’re a better pick for pies and breads.

9. Line cookie sheets for easy cleanup.

Disposable parchment paper or reusable silicone liners make cleanup a snap. If you’re baking bars and brownies, line the pan with foil so you can lift out baked bars with ease.

10. Avoid overcrowding the oven

When baking several items at one time, leave at least two inches of space between the baking pans and between the pans and the sides of the oven.

11. Remove cakes from pans with ease

To make sure cakes release from pans easily, line the bottom of the pan with a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper. Use the bottom of the pan as a guide for tracing and cutting the paper.

12. Make a disposable pastry-decorating bag

Fill a resealable plastic bag with frosting, snip off a corner to use.

13. Shop the Walmart Bake Center
Visit the Bake Center in your local Walmart to find the best products for baking and entertaining. From chocolate to nuts, it’s home to all the ingredients you’ll need.

Used with permission. © 2014 Walmart. All Rights Reserved. See full legal

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