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    Pro Baking Tips From Christina Tosi, Chef And Owner Of Milk Bar

    We asked Christina Tosi for all of her best tricks that you can use at home.

    BuzzFeed / Ellie Sunakawa

    If there's anyone who knows how to transform a classic dessert into something incredible, it's chef Christina Tosi.

    Instagram: @christinatosi

    Christina Tosi, the chef and founder of Milk Bar — which just opened a flagship location in Washington, D.C. — took some time out of her busy schedule to share some of her best baking tips with us.

    Here are 9 practical tips that'll take your baking from good to great:

    1. For better cakes, ditch the round metal tins and use sheet pans instead.

    Milk Bar, Instagram: @milkbarstore

    Most people use round cake pans to make round cakes — but according to Tosi, using sheet pans can help ensure a more even bake throughout. "Often, the round cake pans come out overbaked on the outside and underbaked in the middle," says Tosi. "For that reason, we bake with sheet pans then use a cake ring to cut out the rounds." She also says that heavy duty sheet pans — vs. something like a wobbly cookie sheet — are key for consistency.

    2. Don't be afraid to keep the sides of your cake unfrosted.

    "I love cake fillings and surprise textures — like malted milk crumbs, curds, or jellies," says Tosi. At Milk Bar, she keeps the sides of her cakes unfrosted to show off those all those textures and layers inside.

    3. And invest in acetate paper to give the sides a clean, even finish.

    One of the most helpful tools pastry chefs use is acetate paper. "When building our layer cakes, we use acetate, or strips of thick but flexible plastic," says Tosi. "We use it to make our cakes look clean and prevent them from sticking to the cake ring." To do this at home, just line the inside of your cake ring with a strip while assembling, and the sides of your cake will turn out nice and smooth.

    4. Don’t skimp on the butter — and always use unsalted, European-style varieties.

    Bigacis / Getty Images

    "When you start with great ingredients in the mixer, your baked goods will have great flavor out of the oven," says Tosi — and this is especially true when it comes to butter. Unsalted, European-style butter has a deeper flavor compared to the generic stuff, says Tosi, and allows you to control the salt level in your final product.

    5. Use a bent spoon to easily assemble your cakes.

    When building cakes in a ring mold, it can be difficult to spread the frosting evenly. Offset spatulas aren't flexible enough and can't reach the bottom, so Tosi uses bent spoons to apply frosting and cake soaks with ease. "I suggest buying cheap spoons online — expensive spoons won’t bend as easily," says Tosi.

    6. Use milk powder to give your baked goods an added depth of flavor.

    Another ingredient pastry chefs swear by is milk powder. "Milk powder adds an incredible depth of flavor and texture to any baked good you add it to," says Tosi. "It doesn’t impart a milky flavor, it just amps up any flavor your working with." Next time you're making cookies, try adding two tablespoons to the batter. It'll amplify the flavors and take your cookies to the next level.

    7. Don’t underestimate the power of pretzels.

    Instagram: @milkbarstore

    Crushed pretzels are not only great for garnishing baked goods, but baking with as well. "When baking at home, one of my go-to moves is to take pretzels, grind them down in a food processor until they're a powdery, flour-like consistency, and substitute up to half of the flour in any recipe with the pretzel flour," says Tosi. "It adds a salty, malty depth that balances any baked good perfectly."

    8. When layering cakes, go beyond the classic cake and frosting combo.

    Milk Bar, Instagram: @milkbarstore

    "One of the most important steps when layering a cake is adding a surprise texture," says Tosi. Sure, cake and frosting is great, but adding additional pops of texture can take a cake from good to great. "For crunch, we use crumbs that have a shortbread-like consistency," says Tosi. "Nearly anything you can think of is fair game as long as it helps tell the flavor story of your cake."

    9. Go beyond the classic chocolate chip cookie, too.

    Milk Bar, Instagram: @milkbarstore

    Cookies are a great vehicle for all kinds of interesting mix-ins, not just chocolate chips. "Have fun experimenting with whatever you have around the house or whatever you can grab from your local supermarket such as Cornflakes, Ritz Crackers, and marshmallows," says Tosi.

    Let's get baking!


    To keep up with Tosi's baking adventures, follow Milk Bar on Instagram and check out their NYC & DC class schedules to learn how to make these delicious creations IRL.