Part 1: Things Your Grandma Never Told You About Cooking From Scratch

chicken cooker#1 — You’re gonna have to do a lot of dishes (and a lot will be hand wash only).
Baking from scratch means saying goodbye to your one bowl recipes and hello to a sinkful of dishes. Keep in mind that a lot of baking gear isn’t dishwasher friendly either, so break out the drying rack and the dish soap, and hope someone else picks up the slack for you.

#2 — You WILL get flour on your belly.
So just put on the apron already.

#3 — Your butter needs to be super cold for pastries.
If you’re making anything like pie crusts or scones, your butter needs to be beyond refrigerated — cut up the amount you need and throw it in the freezer at least 30 minutes before you start using it.

#4 — Um, but it needs to be soft for frostings and cookies.
If you’re baking pretty much anything but a pastry, your butter needs to be soft — room temperature ideally. Depending on the temp of your house, this can take a while, so set it out at least an hour before you start baking.

#5 — Real vanilla is expensive, but oh-so worth it. Use bourbon if you’re feeling cheap.
The price difference between fake and real vanilla is insane, but trust me, you want the good stuff. Use it sparingly in recipes where you can actually taste it, and use bourbon in your chocolate chip cookies to save a little cash.

#6 — Anything with dairy in it will boil over before you know it.
If you’re making caramel or any kind of cream sauce, keep in mind that dairy has a mind of its own on the stovetop. Watch it like a hawk, or you’ll smell disaster before you see it.

double boiler
A double boiler is a great solution for melting cheese and chocolate without scorching it to bits. This stainless steel version is available at Lehmans.com

#7 — There is no greater heck than cheese stuck to a whisk.
Rinse that thing off while it’s hot!

#8 — Use only the toughest mixers for a double batch.
If you’re planning on a double batch of buttercream icing or cookie dough, you best have the toughest of the toughest mixers. I’ll only trust my KitchenAid stand mixer to handle these double-duty jobs. Otherwise, there’s a very real chance you’ll burn out the motor.

#9 — Room temperature eggs are usually best.
When unwashed, eggs can actually sit for weeks at room temperature without going bad, so I keep mine on the counter. Not only that, but room temperature eggs are typically recommended for most cake recipes to make a fluffier finished product.

Trust me, pay attention to those picky little notes in the recipe — it can mean the difference between ‘stiff peaks’ forming and a lifeless blob of nothing.

#10 — No matter what kinds of cake pans you use, make sure you grease them.
Unless you’re using silicone bakeware, anything else is going to have to be sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray of some kind. I’m not a fan of throwaway cans, so I only use my favorite high heat cooking oil with a spray bottle (grape seed oil is my go-to for baking). Aerosol varieties are super prone to clogging, so I suggest this oil sprayer bottle instead.

Editor’s Note: Catch the rest of “Things Grandma Never Told You…” next week. Stay tuned!

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