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I Tried Internet-Famous Baking Hacks To See Which Ones Actually Work

Some were brilliant and others were BS.

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And to make *your* life easier, I tried some of the most popular ones to see which ones actually worked. Here's what I found out:

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HACK #1: To make sure your cakes don't stick, coat your pans in an all-purpose "magic" paste.

Marie Telling / BuzzFeed

THE IDEA: Mix equal parts flour, vegetable oil, and vegetable shortening in a bowl. Use that paste to coat your cake pans, and according to this blog, it will ensure your cakes don't stick.

DID IT WORK?: Absolutely 🙌

THE RESULTS: To make sure I was giving this a proper trial, I baked two cakes: one using the pan-release paste and another one coated in oil and flour, as instructed on the cake mix box.

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The pan-release paste worked much better than the oil-and-flour mix. It was super easy to get the cake out of the pan (I didn't even have to tap) and it all came out perfectly smooth. The other advantage of the paste is that it doesn't leave any floury residue on the edges of the cake like the oil-and-flour version does.

Oh, and you can make this paste in advance and store it in a tupperware in your fridge for up to three months, so you don't even have to go through this whole process each time you bake.

HACK #2: Refrigerate your mixing bowl before you make whipped cream to make the cream extra fluffy.

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THE IDEA: This is less of a Pinterest hack and more of a classic tip that even my grandma swears by, but I wanted to see if it was just a myth or actually true. All you have to do is refrigerate your mixing bowl before beating whipped cream to make it super fluffy.

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DID IT WORK?: Yep! Grandmas are always right.

THE RESULTS: Turns out, it's legit. I made two batches of whipped cream, making sure to beat them for the exact same amount of time at the same speed. I'm not sure it's obvious in the pictures, but the whipped cream that was prepared in the cold bowl was much more stable and light than the one made in the room-temperature bowl, which was a bit limp.

HACK #3: Soften hard brown sugar with an apple slice.

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THE IDEA: Having to throw out a whole box of brown sugar because it's hardened is the worst. But according to this hack you can avoid that by placing a slice of apple with your sugar in an airtight container and waiting a couple hours.

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DID IT WORK?: Yup!

THE RESULTS: I think I overdid it a little with the apple slices and placed too many in the container (which was also probably too small, TBH). Because of that, the box was a bit crowded and the sugar got wet in some places. But still, it went from rock hard to perfectly soft in about two hours, and you can't argue with that.

Marie Telling / BuzzFeed

DID IT WORK?: Yeah, but I didn't really nail it.

THE RESULTS: I followed the instructions from this video, set my hair dryer on warm, and positioned it about a foot and a half away from the cake.

Once I turned the hair dryer on, it took a few seconds before anything happened to the frosting. Then, it quickly looked like it was melting, which freaked me out. I was so afraid to ruin the whole thing that I spent much less time warming up the rest of the cake. Because of that, parts of the frosting were shinier than others.

I figured the gloss might just go away once the frosting cooled down again,
but surprisingly, it kept its shine.
I think the trick is just to make sure you use the hair dryer evenly — not too close, not too far — over the surface of the cake so you don't end up with a big old mess like I did.

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HACK #5: Bring cold butter to room temperature ASAP by covering it with a warm bowl/glass.

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THE IDEA: If a recipe calls for room-temperature butter and you forgot to take the butter out of the fridge in advance, just place a warm bowl or glass on top of the butter and let it sit for a few minutes until the butter softens.

Marie Telling / BuzzFeed

DID IT WORK?: Kinda.

THE RESULTS: I microwaved a bowl, which may have been a terrible idea because it started smelling really weird and I thought it was about to shatter into pieces when I took it out of the microwave (to be clear, this was a microwave-safe bowl but I'm not sure you're supposed to microwave it on its own on high for a while). Anyway, my point is: Be careful and maybe warm your bowl by filling it with boiling water instead?

Now, about the butter. This hack did soften the butter and made it closer in consistency to room-temperature butter. That being said, the butter wasn't uniformly soft — the edges had completely melted, and the middle of the stick was still pretty cold. Maybe it would've worked better if the butter had been sliced in smaller pieces? As it was, it definitely didn't have the same quality as room-temperature butter. But if you have no other option or are in a time crunch, this is a pretty useful trick.

HACK #6: Make an easy and healthy-ish dough with just flour and Greek yogurt.

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THE IDEA: This dough recipe has been making the rounds on Pinterest and Facebook for the past few months. All you need is self-rising flour and low-fat Greek yogurt (there are several versions of this recipe online — they're all pretty much the same, but I used this one). The resulting dough can be used to make pizza crust, bagels, garlic knots, pretzels... I chose to make bagels, because anything bagel-related will get my vote.

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DID IT WORK?: Pretty much.

THE RESULTS: They looked legit. Taste-wise? They didn't really taste like traditional bagels and had a tangy flavor because of the Greek yogurt. They also didn't have the chewy bite I look for in a good bagel. But they were still pretty tasty and had many things going for them:

• They were pretty much foolproof. Even if you don't have any baking skills, you'd have a hard time messing them up.

• Flour + yogurt = cost barely anything.

• They're only 3 SmartPoints on Weight Watchers.

• And they didn't take more than 45 minutes to make from start to finish.

Read more about them here.

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HACK #7: To make your bread dough rise faster, use a heating pad.

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THE IDEA: For bread doughs that need to rise in a warm environment, place your bowl on a heating pad to speed up the process.

Marie Telling / BuzzFeed

DID IT WORK?: Pretty much.

THE RESULTS: I made this dough, split it in half, placed one half in a bowl over the heating pad and another one further down the table (so the heat of the pad wouldn't reach it). I used this $18 heating pad set on "high."

After an hour of rest, the dough over the heating pad had definitely risen more. That being said, the difference wasn't striking enough that I would encourage someone to buy a heating pad just for this. But if you already have one at home, you might as well put it to good use!

HACK #8: Substitute flaxseed and water for eggs to make vegan baking goods.

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THE IDEA: Mix 2½ teaspoons of pre-ground flaxseed with three tablespoons of water to replace an egg in a recipe (double for two eggs, triple for three, etc).

Marie Telling / BuzzFeed

DID IT WORK?: It wasn't as good as the version with eggs but it did the job.

THE RESULTS: Making the flaxseed egg substitute was super easy. All I had to do was mix water and flaxseed and beat for a while (I used a fork) until it got a slimy consistency.

To test how well flaxseed works, I made two batches of the same pancake recipe, one with eggs and the other one with flaxseed.

The flaxseed pancakes were much paler and not as attractive as traditional golden pancakes. The consistency was also less fluffy and a bit denser. But overall, the flaxseed pancakes were still really good and made for a great vegan alternative to the original pancakes.

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HACK #9: To bake a flatter cake, wrap your pan in a wet towel first.

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THE IDEA: If you wrap your pan in a wet towel strip, your cake will come out of the oven flat. That way, you won't have to trim as much if you're building a layer cake.

Marie Telling / BuzzFeed

DID IT WORK?: Yes, but... 🤔

THE RESULTS: I used a wet towel that I wrapped around the cake pan and secured it with a safety pin so it wouldn't fall apart during baking. Honestly, I was afraid the heat of the oven would set the towel on fire (Is that even possible? I'm not very good at science) so I kept watching the cake baking through the oven door.

The cake came out much flatter than the towel-free test cake I baked in similar conditions. That being said, it was also much more moist (I'm guessing from the wet towel) and when I tried to flip it on a plate it was a complete disaster. Maybe I was supposed to bake it longer? Or maybe the towel I used was too thick — pros seemed to be using strips and not whole towels. Whatever it was, it pretty much ruined the whole hack for me.

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HACK #10: If you're out of buttermilk, create your own with milk and vinegar.

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THE IDEA: You're out of buttermilk but you still want to make your fave pancakes or blueberry muffins? If you have milk and white vinegar at home, it can do the same thing.

Marie Telling / BuzzFeed

DID IT WORK?: Pretty much.

THE RESULTS: I used this recipe and mixed one tablespoon of white vinegar with a cup of milk. The milk curdled after a few minutes and was ready to be used.

I made two batches of these tall, fluffy buttermilk pancakes from Smitten Kitchen: one with buttermilk, the other with the milk-and-vinegar mixture.

The difference between them was pretty subtle. The buttermilk ones had risen a little more, and were softer and fluffier, but the milk-and-vinegar ones were still delicious. So I'd say that's a success.

(Both pictures below are of the milk-and-vinegar ones)

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HACK #11: Use a food processor to turn granulated sugar into powdered sugar.

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THE IDEA: If you're out of powdered sugar, just process regular granulated sugar until it's super fine and use that instead.

Marie Telling / BuzzFeed

DID IT WORK?: Not really.

THE RESULTS: The instructions said I could use either a food processor or a blender. I decided to try using my food processor, but after a while I realized it wasn't doing anything. There probably wasn't enough sugar for it to work and the blade was uselessly turning in the air while the sugar was resting at the bottom.

I then switched to my blender and it worked much better. That being said, after blending the sugar for about 10 minutes, I had to accept that it wouldn't get any finer even though it wasn't anywhere near the consistency of actual powdered sugar.

To make sure I really gave it a chance though, I decided to make two batches of frosting, one with the processed granulated sugar and one with powdered sugar. The difference was evident: The frosting with the powdered sugar was super smooth and glossy while the one with the processed granulated sugar was very grainy and crunchy. 👎

HACK #12: Use a box grater to salvage burnt cookies.

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THE IDEA: OK, this one is kind of lame. But who hasn't burned a cookie before? Apparently, all you have to do to save a burnt cookie is grate the bottom until you've gotten rid of the blackened parts.

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DID IT WORK?: LOL, not really 🙃

THE RESULTS: I purposefully burned two cookies for this test, which pained me so much. The hack itself was very straightforward and easy — you literally just have to grate the bottom of a cookie. But even once the blackened parts were gone, the burnt taste lingered and the cookies were still overly crispy. I think the only way to save burnt cookies is to not burn them in the first place.

What are your favorite baking hacks? Tell me in the comments!