Errors in the Details!
Unless a recipe calls for a change of temperature, time or addition of an ingredient, never change the recipe unless you know what you're doing.
But sometimes you just can't help it and the dessert isn't what you hoped it would be.
If there's nothing wrong with the recipe look for other mistakes.
Check the following dessert tips:
- Was the baking time too long or too short?
- Does the oven door close entirely? Make sure there are no charred pieces from previously baked foods around the seals. Perhaps a mechanical fault prevents the door to close entirely.
- Are the ingredients at room temperature? Leave them at least 45 minutes outside the refrigerator unless the recipe asks for a different approach.
- Is the oven accurate? Use an oven thermometer! Set the oven at 180°C and see if the thermometer rises close to it. If the value is within 10°C you're fine.
- Did you mix the ingredients in the right order using the suggested method?
- Did you preheat the oven? For certain recipes, such as madeleines, you can't start off baking cold.
- Sometimes over-mixing is a bad thing, with both dough and batter. The first will form too much gluten, the second too much air. When the recipe specifically instructs too keep mixing times to a minimum it's because the dessert needs a type of texture or raise a certain amount.
- Never use expired ingredients. Keep them as fresh as possible. Buy the ingredients days before making the dessert. Gelatin, for example, will not dissolve after it has expired for months.
- Always clean the tools and equipment before using them, including your hands.
- Are you using the right type of mixing beaters? Generally, there are two types: those for kneading and those to beat air in certain liquids and batters.
- Use convection (oven fan) only when indicated in the recipe. If you cannot turn off the fan, lower the temperature with 15°C or baking time with 25%.
- Use the right size of pans/molds! Square or round, make sure the inside size is correct. A cake pan of 26 cm does not bake the same as a 20 cm. Certain recipes are more sensitive to temperature differences. Also, 26 cm or any other size, differs among various brands.
- Never open the oven door in the first 15 minutes of baking with larger pastries. That's when levening agents like baking powder and yeast do most of their work.
- Set your refrigerator to 3°C to 4°C.
More dessert tips to come....