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Baking for Beginners: A Comprehensive Guide to Measuring, Mixing, and Mastering Delicious Treats!

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Want to bake delicious treats like a pro, but don’t know where to start? Whether you’re a baking newcomer or just looking to improve your skills, this comprehensive Baking for Beginners guide will walk you through everything you need to know to become a confident and successful baker.

Someone icing a cake. A text overlay says 'Baking for Beginners'

Baking can be a fun and rewarding hobby, that brings joy to you and those around you. However, it can also seem intimidating and overwhelming to navigate. But fear not! From essential tools to simple recipes and expert tips, I promise you’ll be whipping up perfect treats in no time.

Raspberries being folded into sweetened cream.

And if that’s not enough – subscribe for FREE below, to receive your Best Bakes e-cookbook and my Top 5 Tips to Guarantee Baking Success! Plus a bonus measurement conversion cheat sheet. Baking for beginners has never been this rewarding! Sounds good right?! So grab your apron, preheat your oven, and let’s get started!

Baking essentials: everything you need to know to get started

So you want to learn how to bake? Great! You’re in the right place 🙂

This extensive guide on baking for beginners will have you applying for Bake Off in no time!

Front view of white chocolate filling being spread on a chocolate orange cake set on a cake stand with a pallete knife. Set on a cool grey painted wood effect backdrop, there is also a bowl of white chocolate filling, two books, dried orange segments and a light brown linen napkin in the background.

Essential baking tools and equipment for beginners

People often say a good craftsman never blames his tools. In baking, this doesn’t fully hold up. Having the right equipment really can make your life easier! Which, in turn, allows you to concentrate on creating brilliant bakes. Rather than cursing your broken spatula or leaky tin.

It’s also worth noting that, you get what you pay for. Buying expensive equipment might not feel like a saving. But if you continually buy cheap equipment, that breaks and needs replacing all the time, spending that little bit more can actually save you lots of money long term.

Someone spreading strawberry frosting onto a strawberry cake

Baking for beginners: top 10 tools

With this in mind, here are my top 10 baking tools every beginner baker should have.

  1. 20cm (8″) Square loose bottom baking tin
  2. 20cm (8″) Round loose bottom baking tin
  3. Large non stick baking tray (affiliate link)
  4. Digital weighing scales (affiliate link)
  5. Electric hand whisk (affiliate link) *
  6. Two or three glass mixing bowls (affiliate link)
  7. Cooling rack (affiliate link)
  8. Measuring spoons (affiliate link)
  9. Two or three rubber spatulas (affiliate link)
  10. Hand whisk (affiliate link)
A round cooling rack topped with gingerbread cupcakes, one is being iced with cream cheese frosting. There are mini gingerbread biscuits, gold baubles and a light brown linen napkin in the background. Set on a cool grey wood effect backdrop.

*If you find that you enjoy baking, and do it a lot, I recommend upgrading your electric hand whisk to an electric stand mixer (affiliate link). Not a cheap investment, but worth it if used frequently. It saves a lot of time and elbow grease!

Once you’ve got the essentials, why not treat yourself to some Kitchen Mason swag?! The cork pot stand is particularly stylish and useful!

A chocolate orange cake on a cake rack lined with baking paper, having a white chocolate filling smoothed over the top with a pallete knife. Set on a cool grey painted wood effect backdrop, there's also dried orange segments, a bowl of white chocolate filling, another chocolate cake layer and a light brown linen napkin in the background.

Measuring ingredients: the basics

Measuring may seem like a simple task. But, if done wrong, it can seriously impact your bakes! Here are a handful of helpful tips to ensure consistent baking…

Baking for beginners: measuring tips

  • Never switch between metric or imperial measurements mid bake. Stick with one the whole way through.
  • Use digital scales to ensure accuracy.
  • Place your bowl directly onto the scales. This makes things less messy and creates fewer pots to wash.
  • Don’t forget to zero the scales! Place a bowl on your scales, zero them (use the tare function) and then add your ingredients.
  • Pay attention to the details. For example, a level tablespoon is not the same as a heaped tablespoon.
  • Use measuring spoons for consistent success. 1 teaspoon in baking, is not the same as the one you use to make a cup of tea!
A top down view of someone slicing a moist lemon drizzle cake with a knife on a white wood board. Set on a white wood effect backdrop, there are also lemon slices, squeezed lemon halves and a light brown linen napkin in the background.

For the biggest measuring tip of all – subscribe for FREE below. It’s one of my essential Top 5 Tips to Guarantee Baking Success. Plus you get a Best Bakes e-cookbook and a conversion cheat sheet too! Trust me, it’s 100% worth it.

Baking techniques: explained

Having the right equipment, and knowing how to measure your ingredients is great. But not understanding the techniques? This can feel incredibly overwhelming. And even put you off baking entirely!

So lets tackle that problem, and give you the knowledge to face those recipes head on!

A top down view of a hand reaching in with a spoon to some unbaked gingerbread cupcakes in a muffin pan with some gold baubles, cupcake cases and mini gingerbread biscuits scattered around in the background with a light brown linen napkin. Set on a cool grey wood effect backdrop.

Baking for beginners: 10 techniques and what they mean

  1. Creaming: This involves beating together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Creaming is often used as the first step in making cookies, cakes, and other baked goods.
  2. Folding: Folding is a gentle mixing technique that’s used to incorporate ingredients without deflating them. It’s often used when adding whipped cream, egg whites, or other delicate ingredients to a batter.
  3. Whisking: Whisking involves beating ingredients together quickly, with a wire whisk. It’s often used to incorporate air into a liquid or batter.
  4. Kneading: Kneading is a technique used when working with a dough, such as bread. It involves stretching and folding the dough to develop the gluten and create a smooth, elastic texture.
  5. Rolling: Rolling involves using a rolling pin to flatten dough to a desired thickness. This is often used when making pastry, cookies, and other baked goods.
  6. Cutting: Cutting involves using a knife or cookie cutter to shape dough. This is often used when making cookies or biscuits.
  7. Greasing: Greasing involves coating a baking tin or sheet with butter, oil, or a non-stick spray. It prevents sticking. This is important, as it ensures your baked goods come out cleanly and easily.
  8. Sifting: Sifting is the process of passing dry ingredients, such as flour or icing sugar, through a fine mesh sieve. It removes lumps and aerates the mixture. This can often lead to lighter, fluffier baked goods.
  9. Blind baking: Blind baking is a technique used to make pastry cases. It involves pre-baking the pastry before adding the filling. This ensures it stays crisp, and doesn’t become soggy.
  10. Brushing: Brushing involves using a pastry brush to apply egg wash, melted butter, or other liquids to the surface of baked goods. Either before or after baking. This can add flavour, colour, and shine to your baked goods.
Lemon curd being spread onto cake.

Baking terminology: simplified

Sometimes recipes can seem like they’re written in a different language. But once you get familiar with the terminology, it can be liberating!

Here are some common recipe words, and what they mean.

Baking PaperA non-stick baking paper that can be used to line baking sheets or pans to prevent sticking.
Convection OvenAn oven that circulates hot air around the food to cook it more evenly and quickly than a traditional oven.
CoulisA thin puree made from fruit or vegetables.
CreamBeating butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
CrumbThe inside texture of a baked good, often used to describe the texture of bread or cake.
DockingPricking the surface of pastry dough with a fork to prevent it from puffing up during baking.
FoldA gentle mixing technique used to incorporate delicate ingredients into a batter without deflating them.
GlazeTo brush on a coating to baked goods, which adds shine, flavour and/or texture.
GlutenA protein found in wheat flour that gives dough its elastic texture.
InfusionThe process of steeping herbs, spices, or other flavourings in liquid. To infuse it with their flavour.
LaminationThe process of folding butter or another fat into dough to create layers, often used in pastry making.
Leavening AgentA substance that causes dough or batter to rise. Such as yeast, baking powder, or bicarbonate of soda.
ProofingThe process of allowing bread dough to rise before baking.
Rolling BoilA constant and vigorous boiling of liquid over a high heat. Where large bubbles rise to the surface and pop continuously.
SiftPassing dry ingredients, such as flour or icing sugar, through a fine mesh sieve to remove lumps and aerate the mixture.
SimmerCooking food gently in liquid at a temperature just below boiling point. Can also be used to reduce sauces.
TemperA technique used to gently melt chocolate. It ensures it’s shine and snap are retained once re-solidified.
ZestThe outermost layer of citrus fruit, often grated or peeled and used to add flavour to baked goods.
3 White plates topped with slices of moist lemon drizzle cake in a triangle shape, and a hand reaching into the shot with a fork. There are also lemon slices, squeezed lemon halves and a light brown linen napkin in the background and it's all set on a white painted wood effect backdrop.

Baking recipes: what to look for

Found a recipe you want to make? That’s great! Here’s what to do next…

Always check the ingredients list first. As, quite often, you will find hidden instructions! For example – 120g (4.2 0z) unsalted butter, melted. Or 100g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate, chopped.

It’s a good idea to prep all your ingredients before you begin. That way, you won’t have to stop at a pivotal moment in the recipe. Speaking from experience, this can be the difference between burnt or exquisite!

A lemon and raspberry cake being dusted with icing sugar.

It’s also wise to check for any advanced preparation. Sometimes recipes call for you to refrigerate items for a length of time, like in this lemon ice cream recipe. Or freeze ingredients, like in these Nutella stuffed peanut butter cookies.

There’s nothing worse than starting a recipe and realising you can’t continue, because you didn’t check everything through beforehand!

A bowl of strawberry frosting with some flowers

Baking for beginners: mastering the next steps

Now you’ve conquered the basics, it’s time to move on to the next step. Boosting your confidence with knowledge and helpful tips!

Baking tips and tricks

  • Measure your ingredients accurately, for consistently great results.
  • Check the use by dates on your ingredients! I’ve accidentally used out of date baking powder before, and it was underwhelming at best.
  • Preheat your oven if a recipe calls for it. When wet ingredients are mixed with dry, they need to be baked as soon as possible for the best results.
  • Don’t over mix your ingredients. This can often result in dense, chewy bakes instead of light and fluffy ones.
  • Use the best quality ingredients you can afford. You will taste the difference!
  • Found a recipe you want to make? Read through the comments at the end of the post. If there are any errors in the recipe or notable mistakes to avoid, you’ll usually find them there. Forewarned is forearmed!
  • Whenever possible, use the right equipment. It will make your life so much easier!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whenever a reader comments on my recipes with a question, I always do my best to respond in a timely manner.
  • Avoid opening the oven during baking. Particularly with cakes, as this can cause them to sink.
  • Be patient. If a recipe calls for you to allow your bakes to cool completely, do it. It’s always for your benefit.
  • Keep a clean and tidy worktop. Ever heard the phrase ‘tidy desk, tidy mind’? This applies to baking too!

Want the icing on the cake? For my Top 5 Tips to Guarantee Baking Success, sign up below for FREE! Plus, bag a Best Bakes e-cookbook and a conversions cheat sheet.

Someone pushing a fork into a slice of strawberry cake

How to substitute ingredients

In most Kitchen Mason recipes, you’ll find a section called Ingredients and Substitutions. I always offer help and advice on this. Know that you’re never on your own with a Kitchen Mason recipe!

However, having the knowledge to substitute ingredients is nothing but a positive thing. So here are some substitutions for a few common baking ingredients.

Baking PowderIf you’re out of baking powder, you can make your own by mixing 1 part bicarbonate of soda with 2 parts cream of tartar.
ButterYou can substitute butter with margarine or a vegetable fat (like Trex).
Brown SugarMake your own brown sugar by mixing together white sugar and molasses. (Ratio: 225g | 1 Cup of white sugar to 1 tablespoon of molasses)
ButtermilkMix milk together with an acid, like vinegar or lemon juice, and stand for 10 minutes until curdled. (Ratio: 250ml | 1 Cup milk to 1 tbsp acid)
Chocolate ChipsChop whole bars of chocolate into smaller pieces.
EggsUse powdered egg as per the packet instructions. Or you can also use apple sauce, mashed bananas and aqua faba (chickpea juice). Use 60ml | 1/4 Cup per egg required.
Flour (self raising)Make your own using store cupboard ingredients: How to make self raising flour.
MilkIf you don’t have cows milk, you can use almond milk, oat milk, soya milk, rice milk or coconut milk.
SugarCommon sugar substitutes are honey, golden syrup, agave syrup and maple syrup. Exercise caution, as these will change the texture and flavour of your bakes.
Vanilla ExtractVanilla seeds scraped from a vanilla bean works very well. You can also substitute with other flavour extracts. Like peppermint, orange blossom, lemon, mint and coffee.

Note that substituting ingredients can affect the flavour, texture and appearance of your baked goods. And not all substitutions will work in every recipe. So it’s important to test them before serving to others.

A hand reaching in with a small fork to a sliced chocolate cake set on a round wire stand. Set on a cool grey hand painted wood effect backdrop, there is also a cup of tea, some dried orange segments, a light brown linen napkin and some cake crumbs in the background.

Easy baking recipes for beginners

Although it can be tempting, try not to run before you can walk. Practice makes perfect! So nail those basic recipes before moving onto more complex ones.

Here are some ideal recipes for beginner bakers:

When you’re feeling confident, check out the classic baking recipes in the Kitchen Mason archives for more inspiration.

Front view of a slice of lemon and raspberry cake on a plate.

Useful baking resources for beginners

Got the baking bug? You’ll definitely want to check out these informative blogs and YouTube channels, to further improve your knowledge and baking experience!

  • Jane’s Patisserie: A baking blog of epic proportions.
  • Sorted Food: A YouTube channel that’s genuinely informative and fun!
  • Pro Home Cooks: Discover the science behind food. Has a great sourdough bread making guide!
  • FitWaffle: Her recipes are incredible! I’ve never been disappointed and her new cookbook is brilliant!
  • Domestic Gothess: A vegan baking blog with stunning photography.

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Eunice

Monday 27th of March 2023

Great

Emma

Monday 27th of March 2023

Thanks Eunice :) Emma x

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