There are plenty of write-ups on life hacks out there, and just as many on baking hacks. The difference is that these ones actually work. So for all of you Martha Stewart wannabes, dorm room dwellers who get the hankering for something freshly baked or busy parents that survive on hacks because life is busy, this is for you.
Best of all, these everyday baking hacks will cost you next to nothing, since making them work requires stuff that most likely already exists your kitchen, or around it.
1) Why did I make an extra batch of cookie dough when I'm on a 'diet?'
You made cookie batter for two dozen, when you really don't need to consume two-dozen cookies at once. What to do with the extra dough?
With an ice cube tray
Portion the dough into an ice cube tray, cover the tray in a Ziploc freezer bag and freeze until you're ready to bake.
Without an ice cube tray
If there's no tray available and you're in no mood to run to the dollar store to grab another, here's your solution. Simply make balls of leftover dough, (put them in a fridge to harden for two to three minutes), then toss them into a Ziploc freezer bag and freeze.
Tip: You can also freeze a log of dough, (think sugar or shortbread cookies), and turn to the bake n' slice method, where you slice the cookies before baking, but after the dough has warmed up for 10 to 15 minutes on the counter.
2) I'm tired of chasing a piece of eggshell that fell into the bowl with a spoon.
Wet your finger and easily pull the broken eggshell piece out of the bowl. The shell won't run away.
Catch a shell with a shell method
Scoop up the broken piece of shell with the larger half of the eggshell that isn't broken.
3) My brown sugar is rock hard and I need it to be soft now!
Paper towel trick
Simply damp a paper towel with water, place the sugar in a bowl and lay damp paper towel over the bowl or under the sugar and microwave for 20 seconds. The steam will break up the sugar.
Cup of water trick
Put the sugar in one bowl and a cup of water in another, microwave them both for 45 seconds. Again, the steam from the glass of water will break up the clumps of sugar.
4) My butter is frozen and Martha Stewart said 'use room temperature butter only.'
Grate frozen butter and let it sit for a few minutes. It'll soften.
5) Did my baking soda and/or powder expire a decade ago?
Test it. Here's how:
Baking soda: Pour a little vinegar into a bowl with a little bit of baking soda. If the mixture bubbles immediately, your soda is still good to go. If it makes a paste but no bubbles, it's time to replace it.
Baking powder: Mix a little baking powder with hot water. If it's fresh it'll create bubbles. Cold water doesn't work for this test.
6) For once, I would like to see clumps of chocolate chips not gather at the bottom of my cake.
Just dust the chocolate chips (or nuts) in flour before tossing them into your batter to avoid sinkableness. Look, I made up a word, isn't that something we're doing these days? The difference between coating in flour and not coating in flour is bigly.
7) There's a way to make my cake look fancy even if it taste like sh*t? Tell me more.
Not everyone is a fan of super sweet mounds of icing. Instead, go to Grandma's and borrow or steal her doilies. Simply place the doily over your cake or cupcake, using a sifter sprinkle icing sugar, cocoa or shimmer dust and voila, a fancy pattern appears. Here's a tutorial that teaches you how to get fancy.
8) Room temperature eggs. Really?
Put the eggs in a warm water bath for for three to five minutes. Yup, this is a hard one.
9) I'm out cupcake liners and I don't want them to go naked!
Cut five-inch squares of parchment paper for regular-sized muffins. Grab a jar or can that fits in the muffin tin well and press the squares of parchment around the can to create the mould. Nudge the liners into the pan and fill them with batter.
Plus, these look cool since they mimic bakery style liners. Here's a clearer how-to post on making DIY liners.
10) Dental floss is for cutting cakes and occasionally flossing.
You can cut a cake evenly using floss. All you do is hold the floss tightly between two fingers on both hands and with pressure push the floss through the cake. You get clean, smooth, straight slices every time.
If you're looking to cut layers, this video shows you how.
11) How do I get those next level cookies?
Simple. Sprinkle some coarse sea salt on top of your cookies before they go into the oven. Salt makes chocolate and butter taste richer and brings out the sweetness in the dough. And it's not just for the classic chocolate chip cookie, salt makes flavours like vanilla, almond and caramel pop.
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Baking demands exact measurements and ingredients, and rushing through it will only result in a less delicious product. Doing things at a slower pace can help you feel calmer — especially during this time of year when you feel like you're constantly rushing.
So many of us are tied to screens for our jobs and leisure time that we forget how satisfying it can be to use our hands. According to psychologists Carrie and Alton Barron, half of our brain's cortex is mapped to the hands, so it's just as important to use them to create things to keep our brains healthy.
While it's lovely to have some quiet time to bake, if you have a friend or family member who wants to take part in the activity, all the better. Working with someone to achieve a goal — even something as small as a tin of muffins — can boost your mood instantly.
You've heard of aromatherapy, but have you ever thought about it as applied to the smell of baked goods? Whether it's because freshly a baked cake reminds you of happy childhood memories or the scent of vanilla is a throwback to your junior high perfume, these kinds of scents tend to boost positivity. Plus, according to Calm Clinic, if you start associating smells with relaxing, you can call them up anytime in the future to help you breathe a little easier.
Having a routine is something that is cited as a key tool to success for many CEOs, so why wouldn't that be the case for mental health too? Get into a regular baking (or cooking) routine can give a sense of discipline to your week.
Following a recipe is fantastic, but one of the best parts of baking comes with the decorating portion of the project where your creativity comes into play. The opportunity to express yourself (yes, even if it's just with icing) can improve your mood, as well as your ability to communicate.
It's something you hear a lot this time of year, but you should keep it in mind for all 12 months: giving to others will make you feel even better than receiving, making you feel more confident and like you belong, according to Mental Health Foundation. And really, who keeps all their baked goods for themselves?