What Is the Hardest Thing to Bake?The actual answer to this question is: it depends on who you ask. But there are some recipes that, in general, are considered some of the most difficult to achieve. One of those recipes? Macarons. Did you know there’s a difference between a macaron and a macaroon? Both derive from Italy and are made using egg whites and sugar. However, in this case, we are talking about macarons—now famously thought of as a French cookie. But why are they so difficult to make? As it turns out, getting the meringue shell just right is a challenge. Since they’re delicate, crisp, and smooth all at once, the baking process is meticulous and the slightest slip-up will result in shells that are dense and cracked. Not only is a steady hand required to pipe the meringue, but time and temperature make a huge difference. Depending on who you ask, the age and temperature of the eggs used in the meringue are a big deal. Some other baked goods to make as an advanced baker are:
How to Advance Your Baking SkillsYou don’t need to jump right into an attempt at macarons to advance your baking skills. To advance your baking skills over time, here are some key tips:
- Measure precisely. Getting good at measuring is essential. Not only does that mean getting precise measurements with measuring cups and spoons, but weight and temperature, too. Even changes in altitude affect these things.
- Understand gluten. Since wheat flour is involved in so much of baking, it’s important to understand how gluten reacts to over-mixing and different temperatures.
- Set your oven for success. First, avoid opening your oven if you can while baking—it changes the internal temperature, which can affect your recipe. Second, calibrate your oven with an external oven thermometer. You might be surprised to see that what you think is 350 degrees is actually 320.
- Avoid random substitutions. Adding an extra ingredient might not seem like a big deal, but baking is a science and the recipe equals a specific formula. In chemistry, adding something extra to a formula can create unexpected reactions. The same concept is true for baking. Unless you know how to adjust recipes to compensate for added or substitute ingredients, stick to the original plan.
Elevate Your Recipes With…This somewhat contradicts the last tip mentioned above, but advanced bakers have the skill set to apply slight changes that end up elevating classic recipes. As long as you know how these changes are going to affect the result (and aren’t applying them willy-nilly), you might be surprised by the improvements.
Vanilla and SaltSalt and vanilla are standard ingredients in baking recipes. However, a little extra of either can enhance flavors. It’s important to understand that these two ingredients don’t add flavor on their own, but highlight what’s already there. A lemon meringue pie is extra lemon-y with more vanilla and chocolate chip cookies are extra delicious with an added sprinkle of salt.
Browned ButterBrowned butter adds a nuttier richer flavor to everything from cakes to frostings. You can brown butter on the stove or in the microwave and it takes your recipe to a whole new level. We recommend trying it out in cookies or brownies!
Extra EggsWonder why your cakes just don’t taste like the ones from specialty shops? Try adding an extra egg (or egg yolk) to your cake batter. Not only will it increase the moistness, but it creates a soft and pillowy texture that turns your standard confetti cake into a top-tier confection.
Whipped CreamMaking whipped cream with a mixer or by hand is just fine. But for an extra silky, fluffy finish, try whipping it in a food processor next time. This method makes the cream more stable, so it sits in a perfect little dollop on pies and cakes with proud, non-droopy peaks.
Advancing in baking, like with many hobbies, takes practice. Our baking kit subscription can help you make it a regular routine so you can keep building those baking skills. Just pick the recipe you want to try and we’ll send you pre-measured ingredients and clear instructions.