Best Tips from our Baker’s Hotline: Sharing Secrets for Success

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”
– Franklin Roosevelt

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
– Julia Child

“Today me will live in moment unless it’s unpleasant in which case me eat cookie!”
– Cookie Monster

I could go on and on with quotes about happiness, success and the joys of baking. For those of us who really truly love to bake there is no feeling in the world like preparing fresh baked goods that make people happy.

But lo, we have all had those moments, those “learning failures”, those baking disasters that have us hopping about the kitchen like Yosemite Sam, complete with incoherent cussin’ and hat stompin’. Once the fire and smoke die down (sometimes quite literally) we dust ourselves off and discover we have a new understanding of a recipe or method, and our baking has just moved up another level.

In a recent blog on parchment, we asked for your input on why you love baking with one of our favorite tools. In this blog, I’m handing over the offering of baking tips and advice first to my fellow bakers here at King Arthur Flour and then in turn to you. We hope you will enjoy, learn and share.

Hamel, PJ_Head shot-1

I’m sure many of you will recognize KAF’s longest tenured employee and baker extraordinaire PJ Hamel. The things I’ve learned from PJ could fill several blogs, but here’s a few of her favorite tips:

Invest in a good scale and a good digital thermometer. “Two of the most used tools in my
kitchen – scale, and Thermapen.


Most of the bakers I know have a bowl or glass full of measuring spoons instead of spoons on a ring or chain. Reach in, grab the one you need and don’t worry about the others clanking along for the ride.


Here’s another PJH tip that I see everywhere these days. Forgo the plastic wrap and use a shower cap to cover your rising dough bowls and loaves. Flexible, stretchable, and reusable.


Betsy Rosengarden has been with KAF for over a year now and what a great addition to the team. She ran an award winning bakery in Rhode Island for many years and is my go-to source for cake baking. Betsy’s tip?

My tip is a good mise en place.
Mise en place – (pronounced meez en plas) is a French phrase which means “putting in place”, as in set up. It is used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients.

“After reading the recipe all the way through, I then go and mise out all my ingredients. This ensures that I am double checking all the ingredients and the amounts the recipe is calling for. I can make sure everything is at the correct temperature, sifted or whisked, melted or chilled, etc. The other plus is less dish washing! It’s all in the prep!”

Check out this mise en place in a bowl. You add each item in order from the recipe, leaving each in a distinct space so that you can see what has been added and what hasn’t. Checking off each item on a printed paper recipe is a huge help too. When you’re done, just erase the checks until next time.


Teacher, chef, Baking Sheet editor and top notch decorator, I don’t think there is a hat Susan Reid hasn’t worn in the kitchen. Watching Susan in the kitchen often reminds me of what Einstein must have been like in a laboratory. Flashes of genius, acres of practicality and bursts of laughter all wrapped up in a whirlwind of energy.

Here’s a taste of her kitchen wisdom:

Use an offset spatula to spread dough or batter out in a pan. Faster, more level, more fun.


Slice up the side of a clear plastic bread bag to make a perfect two-sided rolling surface for your pie crust. It is easier to see through than waxed paper and sticking crust is a thing of the past.” Susan calls it magic and I agree!


If Susan is the whirlwind, hotline baker Mary Tinkham is the calming, soothing breeze. I’ve never seen Mary flustered by a panicked baker’s phone call, or in the kitchen testing recipes. If I had to pick a Grammy to teach me baking, I’d pick Mary in a heartbeat.
Who doesn’t love a baker who’s advice starts with “Bake with someone really young every now and then.

If I’m kneading a wet, sticky dough, I find it much easier to start with a plastic dough scraper in each hand until the dough gets more manageable.


Actually, the plastic dough scraper appeared somewhere in each baker’s comments at least once. It really is a tool we all use and love.

Which brings me to another hint from Mary. “Invest in the best equipment that you can afford, even for the little things.

So true! Who hasn’t had that cheap cookie sheet that buckled and warped, or that inexpensive grater that made Marie Antoinette’s guillotine look safe?


And last but certainly not least, my dear friend Frank. My harshest taskmaster by far, Frank has probably forgotten more about baking that I’ll learn in my lifetime. Standing literally a foot and a half taller than me, Frank is my jolly giant in the kitchen. When I need precise, accurate, no nonsense answers, I head over to Frank’s station without hesitation.

Here’s just a taste of what Frank has to share:

Read the recipe through twice. And then read it again. Put all of the ingredients onto the counter before turning on the oven. Same thing goes for tools: mixing bowl, tools, baking pan, etc. As soon as you combine the first 2 ingredients, it’s too late to go to the store.”

“Practice makes better. Never use a new-to-you recipe for a special occasion, no matter who or where you get it from, not even us.

And my personal favorite from all of the responses from my fellow bakers came from Frank. As a professional pastry chef, Frank’s dishes are baked and presented “just so” but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a sense of humor about when things go wrong.

Always have 1 or 2 cans of ready-to-go whipped cream in the fridge. These can help immensely if you need to camouflage any unexpected ‘presentation obstacle.'”

That’s right folks. Even the best of us will say a little whipped cream can hide a lot of mistakes!

I hope you’ve enjoyed and learned from our shared tips. Now, hop on down to the comments and leave us your favorite kitchen tricks and baking advice. United we bake!

Hey, wait a minute. There are people in the group photo that aren’t in the blog!
Too right, we have so much to share we’re going to spread it out over several blogs this winter. Stay tuned!


MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour’s baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. gaa

    Well, I agree with everything in the post!! I learned those little nuggets of wisdom through reading the KAF blog for years now and through my own baking disasters — er — adventures! My first suggestion is a variation on Mary’s comment about buying the best equipment you can afford. I say also buy the best ingredients you can afford. The quality of what you put into your baked goods shows in the quality, texture, flavor, etc. of the finished product. Also, I would suggest … read. My mom always said that reading is power, reading is everything. If you can read, you can bake, you can cook. If you can read, you can do anything. So read blogs, read cookbooks, read magazines. I have learned SO MUCH from reading the KAF blog as well as many other sources of inspiration and knowledge. And I am the better baker because of it.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Reading really is fundamental! Many a recipe mistake could be prevented from double or triple reading. I know I have been there and goofed from not reading carefully. Jon@KAF

  2. Amy K

    For special occasion quick breads or muffins which call for greasing and flouring the pan, I substitute granulated white sugar for flour when preparing the pan. I’ve never had a problem with the bread or muffins releasing, and it adds a nice sweet crust to that part or the product. (And a few more calories, I guess…)

  3. sallie

    I picked up the tip about putting ingredients in the bowl in separate spots from the folks who came to Memphis for the baking shows. Forever grateful to y’all for coming to see us and taste our biscuits and Barbeque!! Come back anytime!!

    1. sue

      Whenever I stay at a hotel I always collect the shower caps they leave you each day. They’re wonderful to cover up salads or leftovers in the fridge or cover rising yeast dough as you mentioned. I used to ask my friends who travel to save theirs for me but when I told them what I used them for they no longer share with me but use them for themselves!

    2. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      Oh, those tricky monkeys! You are lucky to still be finding them. The last 3 places I stayed didn’t offer them any longer! ~ MJ

    3. Brooke Jaffe

      I use those “throw-away” hotel caps to cover my smoke alarm when the heat in the kitchen keeps setting it off. Just be sure to take it off when you’re finished with the high heat!

  4. Ann

    I put my paper recipes in a plastic sheet protector and use a dry or wet erase marker to check off items added or steps completed. It keeps the recipe clean and marks are easy to wipe off.

    In spite of Frank’s excellent advice to not use a new recipe for a special occasion, I use lunches with my friends to test new recipes. I am the designated baker for these more or less “pot luck” affairs and am never assigned anything else other than whatever kind of bread I want to make so it seems to be working out. Of course I get most of my recipes from KAF.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Using a good source always helps, even for new recipes. Also, I love the idea of using sheet protectors for your recipes! I bet it saves them from some spills as well. Jon@KAF

  5. Bridgid

    A comment for gaa’s post: your ingredients ARE your equipment! The ones you consistantly replace because you are using them! I agree 100%. I love these nuggets of information – I am a better baker since reading the KAF blog everyday- which I have been doing for years, and there is always something new to learn, an idea, a thought that just makes my lightbulb go off. Thank you so much!

    And – I am the expection to the rule – all sets of measuring cups & spoons are connected. On purpose. Otherwise they “disappear mysteriously” by “I didn’t do it” and it makes me very angry when I am looking to whip up something fabulous to be foiled by lack of measuring ingredients. And although I have designated the kitchen tools “BRIDGID’S TOOLS, DO NOT TOUCH” that somehow translates into another language that my family members do not speak. So my cups and spoons clang away and I wash everything even though one or two were used – and everyone is happy!

  6. Sally

    Use the very best vanilla you can. I recently made a labor-intensive carrot cake and the taste of the unknown brand of vanilla was distracting and off-putting. And I concur about reading and rereading the recipe and getting all the ingredients ready. It just happened to me last night… I didn’t read the recipe through a second time and forgot the baking powder! Not the finished product I envisioned.

  7. Louise

    When baking, I use my scale to weigh the Flour, Shortening, Brown Sugar etc. I have found it comes out the same every time when you get the ingredient weights right!
    It is also important to have ingredients room temperature unless recipe specifies they should be cold or chilled.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Absolutely! Weighing takes away nearly all of the guess work for measuring ingredients and it solves plenty of possible recipe failures. Room temperature butter, eggs and dairy are also a big deal. Jon@KAF

    2. map0814

      I did not learn this until I investigated how to make the ‘best’ Popovers – everyone agreed the ‘trick’ was to use room temperature ingredients. It worked of course, so ever since then I use all of my ingredients at room temperature. What I do not understand is that my Mother (the world’s GREATEST BAKER) never used room temperature ingredients, always added extra eggs (as we had chickens), never even saw a real popover pan and yet she made the biggest, most beautiful and most delicious popover I have ever seen or ever eaten in my entire life! She made the BEST of everything – and that is not just my opinion.

  8. Joanne

    I also keep my recipes in plastic sleeves and hang them on the windowsill with a clip and push pin so they’re at eye height for me.

    I keep them in categories on my computer and in 3-ring binders by categories – a book for cookies, one for main meals, one for miscellaneous desserts.

    Here’s a tip from me.

    I have a gingersnap recipe that’s a VERY soft dough. I take the bottom off my cookie press and stuff the dough in until it fills the tube. I push it out onto waxes paper, roll it up, twist the ends, put the rolls in a French bread pan and put them in the freezer. They keep beautifully and I will make 6 batches at a time.

    Just pull them out of the freezer and slice and bake as you need them. Don’t even defrost.
    The French bread pan keeps them round – no more flat sides.

    1. Anita

      This is just another variation on the “pin the recipe to the window sill” suggestion. I use a magnetic plastic “clothespin” and clip the recipe at eye level on my refrigerator. Very easy to read and follow the recipe this way.

  9. Nikki Pals

    For years I have had either a large square of clear shower curtain liner or a scrap I got from the fabric store. It helps roll out dough. Another piece kept in another drawer helps when I pound out meat (spritz with water first) Both the shower curtain liner or the clear plastic can be washed easily and are not expensive.
    And all the tips about reading the recipe and setting out ingredients I can’t agree more…after all that’s how my Mom told me how to do things and if she said it it’s gotta be true!

  10. marisa dipaola

    i use the left-over water from cooking pasta as a gluten-rich liquid for making whole-grain pizza crusts & focaccia. many of your whole grain flours have way less gluten but are super tasty & the pasta water helps even it all out.
    also, if starting a focaccia sponge, i can use the water right after dinner, as it’s still warm yet cool enough for the yeast

    1. Mary

      my mother always used the left over cooking liquid from veggies to potatoes for her sauces, bread to gravy. she said “you do not want to pour your vitamins down the drain”. everything she made was very good. she cooked/baked until her death at the young age of 98.

  11. Leslie Freeman

    I use my scales not only for ingredients but for weighing pie crusts, loaves of bread dough and portioning pasta. For baking I put the bowl on a scale then keep zeroing after adding each ingredient – and it saves washing up!

  12. Kerry

    ‘though I’m senior in age and a lifelong baker, I am always learning from you all. So thank you!
    I’m happy to share a “mise en place” tip learned from my jr. high school home ec. teacher. She taught us to assemble all of a recipe’s ingredients and measuring/mixing utensils to the left of the mixing bowl. As the ingredients were added, move them to the right (or put them away). You know immediately that you’ve left something out, if you still have items staring at you from the left. If you have any unused utensils on the left, you can put them away knowing that they’re still clean.

  13. Linda

    My kitchen has very little counter space. I’ve learned to slip a copy of the recipe I need into the clips of a trouser or skirt hanger which I can hang on the doorknob of the cabinet above my counter. It’s out of my way, stays clean, and is very conveniently at eye level.

  14. Anita

    I take the “mise en place” a step further placing a plastic bag in a bowl on my scale adding all dry ingredients to it. As stated earlier, scaling guarantees accurate results, zeroing out each addition and adding the next ingredient helps also.This way multiple batches of the same recipe can be started, bowls not dirtied, and everything mixed when I have time later in the day. If baking large amounts of different recipes I make sure to mark each bag with the recipe name.

    1. Mary

      I bake a fair amount of bread, so I, too, weigh/assemble the dry ingredients for various bread recipes into plastic sealable bags, label them and store them in the fridge. Never thought to put the bag right in the bowl, which prevents creating a “flour storm” when I pour from the bowl into the bag! Love your idea!

  15. Judy Welch

    My favorite tip is using a plastic knife when cutting brownies or other “sticky” kinds of bar cookies. They just look so much prettier with that cleaner cut!

  16. RGreene

    Frosting a cake and the crumbs roll into the icing? A tip from a New York bakery friend – FREEZE the “round” (layer or layers) as soon as they are about room temperature – UNCOVERED. Two hours later, the moisture is locked in AND you can handle the layer quite roughly. The best part: the icing slides onto the frozen layer(s) easily and without any crumbs sneaking in. If you wish to frost another day – wrap the frozen layers (separately) in saran wrap (or Stretch Tite) and place back into the freezer. You’re all set for an unscheduled event. By the time you frost and decorate your “frozen” cake – it’s almost defrosted… and very moist, too.

  17. Lucille

    I agree with PJ that a good digital scale and instant themometer are terrific helpers. I use my thermometer for making sure meats and fish are done as well as baked goods. I really appreciate it when you provide the final internal temperature of a product. In fact, I have a card on which I make note of these temperatures for things like cheesecake, custards, breads, etc. so when I discover a recipe in which they are not given, I already have them on hand.

    I’m sure the scale has helped to make me a better baker simply by weighing flour, sugars, and other dry products.

  18. Donna Jo

    I have been baking for the last 68 years (my mother believed in getting us started young) and I still manage to pick up new tips, lately many from your site. For instance, I cannot believe the difference weighing the flour makes in making bread.
    I learned early to break any eggs into a separate bowl before adding it to the rest of the ingredients. I like to keep the recipe clipped to the range hood with a small magnet so I don’t put something down on top of it. For recipes that I often double (or halve), I write the amount in a different color ink right along side the proper ingredient.
    Now if I could just remember to turn the oven off when I’m finished baking….

    1. sue

      Regarding breaking eggs into a separate bowl before adding, this is such an important tip. In kosher cooking this is a must because eggs with blood spots are forbidden, however, on more than one occasion (twice!) I broke open an egg and it was rotten – black and smelly. If I had broken it into my batter I would have had to throw the entire thing away.

  19. Sue Spiersch

    Love all the wonderful tips. I am addicted to my magnetic measuring spoons. Each spoon has two sides for the same measurement so I can use 1 teas. measure for two things and they all fit into each other with a magnet so they stay together but are easily separated. I have 4 sets. My husband thinks I’m crazy but I love them.

    1. wendyb964

      These sound genius! May I ask where you purchased them? I’d love a set and so would my DIL.

    2. Amy Trage

      We’d love to help you with your question! Please specify the product you’re referring to and we’ll get back to you with an answer! ~Amy

  20. daletadlock4

    I love the shower cap idea for proofing bread!

    My tip, along the same vein—years ago I saved two of the large clear plastic covers than go on top of the large plastic deli trays from the grocery store. They are the PERFECT size to fit over a half-sheet baking sheet or two loaves of bread. I simply place my baking sheet or loaf pans on the counter, cover them with the plastic covers and let them rise. If they get dirty I can rinse them out and use them again and again. The beauty is that if they get broken or I just want to replace them, I can get more for just a buck or so at the grocery store deli (or “borrow” one from the next office party).

  21. Sandra Raleigh

    I use a tablet for a lot of recipes. I put the tablet inside a plastic gallon baggie, and use a dry erase marker to “mark off” what I have done. The baggie is reusable and keeps my tablet free of ingredients (I am a messy cook).

  22. RobertA

    I’ve used a plastic shower cap to cover my rising bread for years. But the only way I can get them is from my son-in-law who travels a lot and collects them for me from the hotels he stays in. So sweet of him. However, is there a place to purchase these caps.
    Thanks for all the tips.

  23. Char

    I didn’t even finish reading this post before I disconnected my measuring spoons and placed them in a jar on my kitchen counter. Brilliant! Thank you! 🙂

  24. Sheila

    So much great advice! The ones that resonated with me had to do with making sure you didn’t forget any ingredients. Making pizza crust a few weeks ago – I realized after the bread machine stopped that I had forgotten the yeast! Luckily I started it way before I needed it and had time to do another batch, but it made me feel pretty stupid. I’ve been baking for at least 50 years, for goodness sake! Reading your hints made me think that maybe it happens to other bakers too – and gave me some suggestions for insuring that it doesn’t happen again! Thanks!

    1. May

      I usually measure out all ingredients first. A couple of weeks ago I was making a NO-KNEAD BREAD…I decided that with just 3 ingredients I really didn’t need to; I ended up with 2 loaves of no-salt/no flavor artisan
      bread & a new definition of stupid

  25. Lisa in Portland, Oregon

    I only recently discovered King Arthur Flour and your mail order items. This past year I have ordered hundreds of dollars worth of items from your catalog – and that was me being an absolute model of restraint! I therefore thought I better avoid any enticing emails from KAF…but 20% off… who can resist?

    Not me, I clicked on the email and then clicked on the blog and found all these wonderful tips! Baking for a living is hard work which I discovered working at a bakery years ago. I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who cook/bake for a living due to that experience alone….Thank you all so much for sharing your tips which I will be sure to try as they look great. And finally and perhaps most importantly, from now on I will be sure to open all emails from KAF because if I never want to take a chance I’d be missing more great stuff!!

  26. Jan Janczak

    You guys…WAY UP THERE IN THE NORTH EAST!!! Are awesome. (I’m here in central
    Texas). Loved seeing the faces. Have always enjoyed P.J Hamel’s comments. I even talked with her several years ago when living in GUAM!!!! LOVE your products & recipes!!! My one BIG item on my “BUCKET LIST” is to visit y’all in Vermont. Maybe someday…My husband & I are newly retired. Four sons are grown….happy…successful..AND were my biggest fans when it came to cooking & baking. Thanks, King Arthur family for your great products & always cheerful help!!!! PS LOVE!!! LOVE!!!! All the tips!!!!!!

  27. Don B

    Thank you King Arthur for your great products and all of the baking wisdom that you publish!! I have been baking with King Arthur flour for years. I love homemade bread and cinnamon rolls…and cookies…and pies…and…well you get the picture!!! I am a self taught baker. Lots of trial and error. When I found King Arthur flour my baking improved significantly!! Every time I take 2 beautiful loaves of bread out of the oven, I get such a great feeling of accomplishment. Thank you for all you do!!!!

  28. Kim

    I have several tips that I like to share.

    I use mostly recipes from Websites now. When I try a recipe for the first time, I will either view it from my tablet computer in the kitchen, or print it on letter-sized paper. If we (my family) don’t like it, I delete it from the tablet or throw the page away. If it’s a “keeper,” then I print it out on a 4×6 index card and add it to my collection. That way it’s easy for me to tell if it’s a good recipe or not.

    When I’m cooking from a recipe, I attach the recipe card to the range hood with a magnet. That way it’s easy to view even when I’m stirring something at the stove, and it’s less likely to get spattered as I cook.

    When we make something that would typically require an icing bag, I just use the appropriate size plastic bag, with one corner cut off. For icing or something very thin, I cut off just a little bit. If I’m piping manicotti filling or something thick, I cut off more of the corner so the appropriate amount comes out as I squeeze. When I’m done, I just throw away the bag, without having to clean it.

    When I’m baking quiche, pie, or something else that fills the pan to the rim, I put a pizza pan underneath the pan. If it overflows the pan while cooking, the pizza pan catches the excess and it’s easier to clean than the oven itself–for less than the cost of an oven liner.


  29. Pam

    My friends know to give me my favorite splurges for Christmas. Vanilla from Mexico or Madegascar, saffron from Spain, high quality cinnamon and chocolate, flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Makes their gifts very thoughtful, useful and appreciated.

  30. waikikirie

    My tip is to go back a read the comments after a blog, even after you have posted, or even months/years after published. I have learned SO much from the comments.

  31. Andrea

    I got tired of buying milk with different fat content for various recipes, and then I realized that the solution was simple: I prefer to drink skim, so I always have that, and if I just keep some heavy cream in the fridge, I can make any type of milk I want. Also, if you need a long cake/bread tester in a pinch, use spaghetti!

  32. della

    When i’m going to do some baking the next day i put all the dry ingredients together in either one bowl or more depending on the recipe. Then the next day all you have to do is add the wet to the dry or dry to the wet. This saves me time.

  33. Kathy

    noting the great tip of putting paper recipes in plastic sleeve, just wanted to add. I have an OLD cookbook and some handwritten recipes from Great Grandma…….when I was so perplexed that my plastic finger binding was falling apart at the cover ( I tried for a couple of years putting clear tape down the little holes and tabs to try to save it) one day suddenly thought of having the cover laminated and putting new plastic finger binding on….while at office supply doing decided to laminate the special Banana nut bread page along with another peach special that I used ALOT……..
    Laminating G Grandma’s handwritten saves it for my Grand daughter now, she and I have made a a couple of her Great Great Grandmas recipes and family favorites several times now. GENERATIONS later… that

  34. Ron Phillips (North Wales, Cdn expat)

    Weighing or measuring, both have their uses. 1 cup of packed flour, brown sugar isn’t the same as1 cup loosely measured, nor do they weigh the same. Sugar substitutes (the ones where 1 tsp is equal to 1 tsp of granulated sugar) do not weigh the same as granulated. You need a very sweet tooth to substitute 100g of granulated sugar with 100g of the substitute! Just be savvy whether or not to swap to weighing, or volume measuring.

    Always print out your recipes, even those from your favorite cook book. Use the plastic sleeves to keep it clean, and have a pen or pencil handy to write down any changes however small. Also write down the finished results and any problems or improvements noticed and any changes you would like to try next time you bake. When you finish, update the recipe in a file on your computer, noting the changes and the results. Use a pencil notation, or post-it note in your cookbook, to let you know that the recipe and notes are stored on your computer.

    I use an oven temperature thermometer, the one which has a meat insertion probe attached by a metal lead to the display outside the oven. I wired the probe to the top oven rack and always leave it there to monitor the oven temperature. My oven can be 10°C hotter at the lower temperatures and 30°C hotter when set 190°C or more. I have found over the years, that very few ovens heat to the same temperature as indicated on the dial. Since doing this, I no longer have consistently overdone/burnt breads, cakes, biscuits or meat roasts. This is an investment that will pay for itself time after time.

  35. Susan W

    I just love reading KAF blogs and “meeting” the people that make KAF exceptional is a real treat! KAF is my go-to first and always. I note tips in my “tried and approved” recipe collection. Loved the tip – bake with someone younger. I have baked with my children since they were old enough to sit on the counter. They still bake with me and we have so many memories and our recipe collection is growing and growing. Thank you KAF for your recipes, comments and products. Someday my dream trip will come true – I’ll be in your store!!!

  36. Diane Yarbrough

    My comment is test the temperature of your bread when you think it is done. Never saw that until reading one of KAF bread recipes and have done so ever since. Saves having bread that is underbaked. Thanks again for that step!

  37. SallyBR


    Oh, that was good!!!! I intend to “borrow” the expression, and promise to give it credit. This type of obstacle happens with me quite often (sigh)

  38. Sue

    I live at 9200 ft altitude and had to learn to bake all over again (at least it seemed that way). Many altitude recipes call for reduced leavening, but I find that replacing half the flour with a whole grain flour works–and makes it a little healthier. Also, nearly every recipe needs more liquid and, if you make it once and it seems dry, make that extra liquid an egg yolk! Now, cookies are a whole other issue!

  39. Andrea

    When making bread, during the last quarter of it’s baking time I open the oven just a crack to increase circulation to get a better caramelization on the crust. It makes a thicker, crunchier, better crust in your ovens at home. 🙂

  40. Gail Shaughnessey

    I laminate all my tried and true recipes. I store them in magazine holders – I can pull out a single page at a time. My old stand-by cookbooks (Fannie Farmer & Joy) now are retired to a back shelf.

  41. Kathy

    Thanks for this line-up of hints…I trust the bakers at KAF to know just about everything! Many times I called for advice I needed at the moment, and wrote it down for another day. I also use separated measuring spoons in a small basket, mise en place, and several of the tips. Going to KAF in Vermont for a class was a dream I accomplished, and I look forward to a second trip to Baker’s Heaven. Kerry’s tip on moving left to right with ingredients and utensils, and Mary’s tip on using plastic bench knives to work with wet dough are keepers for me.

  42. Mona Guess

    Hi Mary: Thanks for the advice you gave me for the Apple Bread. I do appreciate hearing from you. I love the products and how easy it is to talk with someone regarding a product. Nice to see a face with a name.

  43. Doreen Valley

    Fill your sink before you start with hot soapy water and wash as you go. Your baked goods will go into the oven and there will be no mess to clean up!

  44. luvpyrpom

    Since I started baking bread earlier this year, I love reading all the different tips/hints on the blog and recipes. A couple things I really love is the mini spatulas, both the regular and the scoop kind and the other is the various sizes of scoops. The mini-spatulas are small enough that I can use it to clean out the scoops and tight corners. The scoops help me dish out perfectly round cookies, portion out in perfect portions in muffins and recently used the #70 scoop to fill the cake pop machine while making donut holes with your donut muffin recipe.

  45. Mandi

    Make notes! While I like to keep my cookbooks nice (they’re a very important tool!), I also believe that they need to be useful. One of the things that makes them most useful to me are the notes I take in the margins. The first time I try a recipe, I make a note of the date, how the recipe turned out, any challenges that I encountered, and any substitutions I made or would like to make in the future. Super helpful for when I come back to the recipe to make it again.

  46. Susie

    As a follow-on to Mandi’s comment above, one of the hints I got from my mom was to highlight in the index of a cookbook the recipes I’d tried–with a “plus,” “check,” or “x” next to them to give me the quick evaluation of how I liked that recipe. This also makes it easier to find a recipe again when you can’t remember exactly what it was called in the cookbook–e.g., was it the “Easy Chocolate Cake” recipe that you liked so much last time, or was it the “Simply Delicious Chocolate Cake.”

  47. Trish Parker

    Hi Everyone at KAF!!!!
    I am in a panic.. I don’t have any clear gel…. any suggestions on whippping together a substitution.
    Thanks so much!!!
    ` trish

    1. PJ Hamel

      Clear-Jel is a modified food starch, much like cornstarch in its thickening power (though it yields a clearer final product; thus its name). You can probably substitute cornstarch; the amount and how you use it depends on what you’re making, so you may want to call our baker’s hotline, 855-371-2253, for further advice. Good luck – PJH

  48. Sharon H

    Measuring cups are inexpensive, especially at thrift shops, so I keep at least a one-cup measure in each one of my flour canisters, a full set plus a tablespoon measure in the all-purpose flour. I also keep a measuring cup in each sugar canister. They are always in place when I need them and you rarely, if ever, need to wash them.

  49. beverly prigge

    I just received a cloche baker and long covered baker for Christmas. I have never used either or anything like these before.
    can I rise my bread in them before putting them in the oven? I know I can’t put cold clay in a hot oven, so can I rise in the cloche and them place in a cold oven for the warm up time AND cook time at temp? what happens if I “peek” during the baking….?
    I love making bread – way fewer ingredients than store bought! and am hoping to “up my game” with these new tools.
    thanks for the input. This will NOT be my last set of questions……!

    1. PJ Hamel

      Yes, Beverly, definitely let your bread rise right in them, then put into a cold/preheating oven. And you can certainly peek – I wouldn’t do it frequently, as you’ll be releasing the steam (which is what you’re trying to keep within the pan), but after 20 minutes or so, peek away! Good luck – we look forward to hearing from you as you experiment. PJH

  50. member-albieros

    Hi Guy’s,I amAlbie and I am from South Africa and I am a starter in the Baking Bussiness and still have a lot to learn.Firstly I am good at baking Buttermilk Rusks and today I baked 16 kgs and what a beuatyfull result.My second attempt will be to master what we call Aneseed Bread or Must Bread and in Afrikaans we call it Mos Bollietjie Bread.Its a Tricky little bugger and I just can get my dough to raize above the bread pans and I don’t know what I am doing wrong.I had 5 attempts and just cant master it.I tried the way the Video Clif showed me to fold and it works like carm.

    Thanks for that clip.



  51. bj sampson

    Good Morning! I would like to make brown butter shortbread cookies. What type of butter and flour do you recommend?

  52. Joe

    I don’t have a lot of baking success but one thing that has saved my skin several times is my list of weights of all the mixing bowls. I weigh my dough and my fillings, subtract the bowl weights, divide by the number of empanadas, pasties, etc. that I want to make, and weigh what’s needed for each item as I make them. Items are the same size and I haven’t run out of dough before fillings since I started doing this. It’s also helped when I have the question, “was that 6 cups of flour or 7, that I put in the bowl?” I’m sure there are other uses for this list, too.

  53. angel ok

    Great tips everyone. I’m new at this but hope to be great at it and I promise to share as I go. But 1 tip from my corner if u have a small oven(presently I use old school stove) and lots of batter to sit just do not add baking powder to the entire batter – add baking power in halves to batter before u pan and then it’s ready to bake.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Welcome to the wonderful world of baking, Angel! We’re here for you along the way and hope you use our blogs, the learn section of our website, the videos, our Baker’s Hotline (855-371-2253) and other resources to guide you in your baking journey. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  54. diane

    I have a question. When a recipe calls for a 500 degree oven for the first 10 minutes of baking, then tells you to reduce the temperature to 400 degrees and to continue baking at that temperature. How do get from 500 to 400 without taking out the product

    1. PJ Hamel

      Diane, the recipe writer doesn’t expect the oven temperature to immediately plummet to 400°F; the slow reduction that actually happens is the planned-for result, so no worries. PJH

  55. Steven Cohen

    I practiced making the levain and now have a nice one but I don’t have time to make the bread. Can it be saved or do I chalk it up to learning to bake bread and dispose it.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Steven, we’d love to help with this, but we’re not sure which recipe you’re referring to (which will make a difference in how long you can keep the levain). Usually recipes specify how long you can keep the levain at room temperature, and sometimes you can get by if you store the levain in the fridge overnight. The dough might loose some of its lift if you do this, so if it’s just a small amount of water and flour then you might want to start again. Please feel encourage to give our Baker’s Hotline a call (855-371-2253) so we can hear which recipe you’re working with and come up with the best possible approach. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

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