Better Baking Tips:
Start with the best and the
Check the date on the bottom of your baking powder can, and,
if it’s more than a year old, buy new. It’s a
minimal investment in the ingredient that makes muffins, cakes,
and cookies rise (leaven). Check the country of origin listed
on the can. American-made baking powder must meet a strict
standard for leavening action. And choose a brand with a built-in
leveling edge on the can for easier measuring.
Dried figs add
moisture, flavor and texture to a wide variety of baked goods.
You’ll find them in handy pouches or plastic wrapped
crowns. Be sure to keep leftover figs tightly wrapped, so
they won’t dry out.
should be fresh. If there’s a can or bottle that’s
been in your drawer since you can’t remember when, it’s
time for a new supply.
is another key to successful baking. Do use measuring spoons
for ingredients such as baking powder, baking soda, salt,
and spices. And measure all the white ingredients before getting
to the spices. That way you don’t carry the dark colors
of the spices into the light-colored baking powder. Use dry
measuring cups for dry ingredients—flour, sugar, oatmeal,
etc. No need to sift flour, but give it a good stir to loosen
it up before measuring. Spoon lightly into the measuring cup
and level the top with a knife.
Use liquid measures (usually
glass) for milk, oil, molasses, or other liquids.
And here’s an easy trick
for measuring sticky stuff such as molasses or honey: first
measure the oil in the cup, then the molasses. The molasses
or honey will slide right out. Or spray the measuring cup
with cooking spray.
More Tips For Successful Baking:
is another key to success. Invest in an oven thermometer and
check it after the oven has had at least 20 minutes to preheat.
If hotter than the temperature you selected, adjust the setting
downward. Vice versa if oven is too low.
is important. The recipes here give you a description of doneness
as well as a time range, so you have an additional way to
judge when the baked goods are done.
Good pans make a big difference. A good pan is an investment
for good results. Be sure to use the pan size given in the
About California Dried Figs
These sweet little ripened
and dried-on-the tree fruits add so much to baked goods—flavor,
moisture, sweetness, and crunch from the tiny seeds. You’ll
find dark Black Mission figs or honey-colored Calimyrnas either
in pouches, in plastic wrapped crowns, or in bulk. Either
variety works in the recipes here. Because the figs dry on
the tree they still have their stems attached and you’ll
need to cut or pinch the stems off before using.
To chop figs, use a chef’s
knife and a cutting board, snip them with kitchen shears (dip
shears in hot water as you cut to prevent sticking), or pulse
on and off in a food processor just until all pieces are chopped.