Ten-Second Tips for the Kitchen | baking
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Baking Powder

Check freshness: If you’re not sure how fresh your baking powder is, try this tip:  Put one teaspoon of baking powder in 1/3 cup of water. If the water does not fizz, it’s too old and you should toss it.

Baked Potatoes

Bake potatoes by standing them on end in a muffin tin sprayed with oil. This will allow you to remove them all at once.

To reduce cooking time: cut potatoes in half and place them face down on a baking sheet in the oven.

Cake

To split a cake layer horizontally, use unwaxed, unflavored dental floss.

When preparing, ensure that all your ingredients are at room temperature before mixing.  This will make your cake rise higher.

Pastry Bag

Make a throw-away pastry bag: Take a zippered bag.  Trim a corner with scissors and place a frosting tip and coupling into the end.  Spoon in your frosting for a disposable bag.

To fill:  For ease of filling, put the bag in a tall drinking glass and pull the top of the bag over the edge of the glass.

Parsley

To clean: The best way to clean fresh parsley is to cut off the long stems and wash in your salad spinner until there are no traces of sand.

To store: Fresh parsley can be dried or frozen for later use. For either method, wash and dry parsley then chop. To freeze, place in a plastic zipper bag and freeze. To dry, spread chopped parsley evenly on a baking sheet and place in a 200 degree oven and remove from oven when completely dry. Store dried parsley in an airtight container.

Muffin Tin

To fill: use a traditional ice cream scoop.  You will find that the volume is the perfect size, it will not spill, and of course all your muffins will be the same size and thus will cook at the same rate.

Cookie Dough

Prevent sticking:  If the dough sticks to your spoon or scoop, dip it in milk so the dough will not stick.

Make even balls: use a small melon scoop.  When all your cookies are baked they will all be the same size.

Frosting

To give your frosted cakes a smooth surface, spread your frosting as usual, then wave a warm blow drier over the cake.  The frosting will melt and create a smooth texture.

Baking Cookies

Use parchment paper to line the cookie sheet. When the cookies are done, simply slide the sheet of parchment with cookies onto a counter and reload.  Also note that you can re-use the sheet of parchment for 2-3 batches of cookies without replacing with a new sheet.

Potato

To store: To keep potatoes from sprouting, put an apple in the potato bag.

To reduce baking time: Drop the potatoes in boiling water for 10-15 minutes, remove; pierce with fork and bake as usual.  You can also put the potatoes in the microwave for about 10 minutes prior to baking and get the same result.

To keep from budding: Put an apple in the bag in the refrigerator

To keep raw potatoes from turning brown: Place in cool bowl of water with lemon juice or vinegar – About 1 tablespoon for every cup of water.

To whiten cut potatoes that have already turned brown: Place them in a pan of milk at a bare simmer.