Home Baking Association
Home Baking Association Home Baking Association
home baking association blog

Ask The Experts...

Ask the Experts...About Tips for Baking Success

Q: Why don't I get consistently good results? Sometimes what I bake is great, sometimes not.

Dear Baker: It's always possible the recipes you've used aren't the same or they're not a tested or standard recipe. But, if it's one you know is reliable or have used before and the results are varying, please check these points:

Consumer Baking Help Lines

Bob's Red Mill: (800) 553-2258 Fleischmann's Yeast Baker's Help Line:
(800) 777-4959
Gold Medal Flour: (800) 345-2443 GE Answer Center: (800) 626-2000 Hodgson Mill: (800) 525-0177 Land O'Lakes:
Consumer Hotline: (800) 328-4155
Holiday Bake Line: (800) 782-9606
(Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 - 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
Martha White: (800) 663-6317 Pillsbury: (800) 767-4466 Red Star Yeast Products: (800) 445-4746

(Also, check Home Baking Association Member Web Links for guidance.)

Before you start, read the ingredient list to be sure you have what it requires. Use fresh ingredients. Home baking can produce the freshest flavors possible. Don't risk off-flavors, or flat or heavy products, due to dated or stale ingredients. (See Ask the Experts … About Storage.) Measure with the correct method and tools. Dry ingredients (flours, sugar, and cornmeal) pack and settle when stored. Use a large spoon to stir them before measuring. Then, spoon the ingredient into a standard dry measuring cup until it is heaping; level off the ingredient with a flat-edged knife or spatula. Liquid ingredients, such as vegetable oil, honey, milk, or water, are best measured in a liquid measuring cup. Read the amount of liquid in the cup by getting at eye level with the cup on the counter, not by holding the cup in your hand. Brown sugar and shortening should be packed into a dry measure and leveled. Standard measuring spoons are used for small amounts of dry or liquid ingredients that are less than ¼ (4 tablespoons) cup. Be sure it's butter or margarine, not a spread. Spreads contain more water that will change the consistency of batters and dough. (See glossary for more definitions and visit www.landolakes.com.) Soften butter just until it is soft enough to mix (pliable). It should still hold its shape - not be melting, or look oily, or be too liquid in texture. It won't hold air or "cream" with the sugar as well if it's too soft. When baking with yeast, always measure the temperature of liquids before adding them to the yeast or mixture containing yeast. Have all ingredients at room temperature (70°F). Always preheat the oven. Place the oven racks in the position they need to be in before preheating the oven. Use the suggested pan for the product or an appropriate substitution (see chart). Over- or under-filling a pan (using a pan that's too large or small) or using a dented pan will affect your results. Place baking pans one to two inches apart. Pans should not touch the oven walls or door and should not be over or under another pan on the racks. Place the racks as recommended for the product in the use and care guide or recipe. Bakeware (darkened, insulated, glass) will affect product browning and the oven temperature recommended. Follow the label instructions for the bakeware you are using. Use cooling racks for cooling baked goods just out of the oven and when they are removed from their pans. Large eggs are the standard called for in most recipes. The color of the shell will make no difference. Large eggs = 24 oz./dozen; medium eggs = 21 oz./dozen. Bake your products long enough, until they are done, using a timer and tests for doneness recommended for the type of product - baking times, toothpick inserted, crust color, pulling from side of pan, etc.