I’ve mentioned this plenty before, but my mom is a fantastic baker. I’ve learned so much by watching her mix, stir, roll, ice, and slice in the kitchen. My mom would admit she is a total perfectionist, and I think that is what makes her such a great baker. I, personally, don’t have the same level of patience, so I don’t follow everything she does (e.g. all of her cookies are EXACTLY the same size – madness!)
In honor of Mother’s Day this weekend, I am sharing five of my mom’s best baking tips:
Baking is a science. You must be precise. Use the back of a knife to level dry ingredients in measuring cups. Scrape off the excess ingredients.
This tip goes with #1. Place a piece of wax paper on a cutting board. Measure all of your ingredients over the cutting board (NOT your mixing bowl). The dry ingredients that spill onto the wax paper (from tip #1) can easily be scooped up and poured back into their respective containers. This makes clean up a breeze and you end up wasting so much less.
1 cup milk + 1Tablespoon white vinegar = 1 cup buttermilk. Learn this equation. Memorize it. I use this one ALL the time, especially for pancakes. I never, ever buy buttermilk because I can make it so easily with this simple substitution. Simply add 1 Tablespoon of white distilled vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Then pour milk (nonfat and lowfat are fine) into the measuring cup until it reaches the 1 cup mark exactly. Give the mixture a quick stir and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Then use as you would buttermilk. Easy peasy!
When making multiple batches of cookies, always let the baking sheet cool before adding more raw cookie dough. A hot baking sheet will cause the cookies to bake unevenly. If you want perfect looking round cookies, allow the baking sheet to cool for about 10 minutes before adding your next batch.
“You can never be too generous,” my Mom says. Whenever family and friends come over, my mom always bakes their favorite treat in preparation of their arrival. My aunt is hooked on her ginger snaps. I always request her carrot cake and my brother loves her Bailey’s Irish Cream cake. Growing up, my friend Ben loved her congo bars. No matter how busy she is, my mom always makes sure to bake these treats for us whether or not it is a special occasion. This year on Passover she sent me a surprise package with lots of homemade Passover goodies. It felt so special having a little piece of home all the way across the country in Los Angeles with me.
I’ve really tried to embrace this value and bake for those I love whenever possible. Even our foster dogs get homemade treats from me now:
Growing up I have vivid memories of my mom baking late at night for my school bake sales. I was really good at letting her know about the sales well in advance (NOT!), but despite working a full-time job, my mom always managed to stay up late the night before and bake the best treats. I know lots of other moms would have just run out to the store and picked up something for the bake sale, but not my mom – she insisted on baking something every time. And it was worth it, because her baked goods sold out immediately at each sale!
Looking back on it now, I realize she always has been “SuperMom” and I am incredibly lucky. I wish I appreciated these little things more when I was younger (like how she would take me to shop at Hollister, even though she hated it because it was pitch black and the music was blasting).
I love you, Mom. Thank you for your endless love and support. And, see – I will always remember your tips no matter how silly they are! I am so looking forward to celebrating Mother’s Day at home with you this year.
Has your mom taught you any special baking tips?
How did I miss this post?? It’s beautifully written – love hearing about the both of you and appreciate the tips! And I love this photo of you guys!! I was lucky enough to get some Passover treats from your mom last time I saw her, and holy moley, it was the best matzoh crunch I’ve ever had! You both rock! xo
Donna, thank you for such a sweet note! Isn’t her matzoh crunch the best!?!? She sent me about 1lb of it and I didn’t want to share it with anyone!