Discover basic baking techniques like baking blind, melting chocolate and how to test if your cake is cooked.

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How to bake: basic baking techniques

Photograph: Seven

How to test if a cake is cooked

Insert a skewer into the centre of the cake and draw it out:

  • If there is raw cake mix on the skewer, the cake isn’t cooked, so put it back in the oven and test again in about 10 minutes.
  • If the skewer comes out clean, your cake is ready.

Folding in ingredients

Folding in ingredients is a useful baking technique to retain plenty of air in your mixture and helps make a light, textured cake, such as a Victoria sponge.

  • Combine sifted dry ingredients with creamed cake mixtures using a large metal spoon to ‘cut’ through the mix.
  • Use a figure-of-eight motion to gently mix everything together, without losing the air. 

How to knead bread and pizza dough

Kneading dough means working it to make the texture smoother and more elastic.

  • Gather your dough into a ball – add more flour if it’s too sticky.
  • Turn it onto a floured surface and knead using the heel of your hand to push the dough away from you; then fold it over, give a half-turn and repeat.
  • Do this until the dough is soft, smooth and elastic. Dough for a single loaf will take about five minutes to knead by hand.

More tips for the perfect loaf.

Baking blind

This means part-cooking a tart or flan case before adding the filling so the bottom doesn’t become soggy. 

  • Line your tin with pastry. Press gently into the tin, leaving 5mm of pastry above the edge to allow for shrinkage.
  • Cover with a piece of greaseproof paper or foil and pour in ceramic baking beans or dried pulses. Or, prick the base with a fork and brush with beaten egg.
  • Bake in a hot oven for about 10 minutes, or according to your recipe. 

To make shortcrust pastry, rub 100g cubed, chilled butter into 225g plain flour with a pinch of salt added. Bind with cold water and chill for 20 minutes.

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how to blind bake pastry

How to melt chocolate

Melted chocolate is a delicious addition to many cake and cookie recipes and, by drizzling over bakes, a quick and easy way to decorate.

Tips for baking

  1. When making cakes, butter should be at room temperature to cream with sugar. For pastry, use chilled butter and rub it together with flour using your fingertips high above the bowl.
  2. To line a tin with pastry, drape the rolled pastry gently over your rolling pin, lift onto the tin and unroll it. Remember, the pastry will shrink as it cooks.
  3. Just before putting your cake in the oven, tap the tin gently on a surface to level the top.