2. Softening butter in a microwave.
Microwaves are good for melting butter, but trying to just soften butter in the microwave always ends badly — the outsides melt while the insides stay cold. A quick, neat alternative is to soften it by placing a warm glass over the butter. This’ll get it just soft enough to work into your cake mix. More here.
5. Baking extra cookie dough.
Next time you prepare a little too much cookie dough, freeze it instead of baking it. While baked cookies will harden in no time, frozen dough (which you can pop into the oven any time and bake in minutes) will keep for up to three months.
6. Baking cakes that are too rounded to frost and layer.
If you want flat, perfectly frostable — instead of domed — cake layers, tie wet fabric strips around your pans. This extra fabricy layer will absorb some of the heat surrounding the outside layer, making sure the center doesn’t rise faster, and that the whole cake is cooked at the same temperature.
9. Chipping away at hardened brown sugar.
Don’t waste your time trying to chisel off chunks of brown sugar. Place it on a dish, cover it with a wet paper towel, and microwave it for 20 seconds to get soft, workable texture. (And don’t worry, it won’t melt into a sugary pool.)
12. Buying an expensive rolling pin.
Instead of investing in a fancy French rolling pin, stick an empty wine bottle in the fridge and use it next time you’re baking. The shape is perfect for rolling, and the coolness will keep the butter in the pastry solid (for a flakier crust!).
14. Waiting for your cookies to settle.
It might be loud, but an easy way to quicken the whole cookie cooling process is to simply bang your cookie pan on your kitchen counter as soon as it’s out of the oven. This will make the dough flatten out and give your cookies a crispy, uniform shape.
16. Using frosting to write numbers or words.
Frosting a cake is one thing. Decorating a frosted cake with even more frosting or icing is another. Next time you’re on the job, lose the frosting and use sprinkles instead— you can make pretty, immaculate shapes by sifting them through a cookie cutter.
17. Baking cookies without chilling them first.
This is also somewhat a matter of preference, but if you want to bake chewier, plumper cookies, chill the dough for just 30 minutes prior to baking. This’ll solidify the butter in the mixture, making sure the cookies spread less in the oven. More here.
19. Making your pie crusts with butter.
Use a crust recipe that calls for mostly lard (instead of shortening or butter) and your crust will come out tender and perfectly flaky. That’s because it doesn’t break down as quickly as butter does in the oven. Don’t believe us? Just look at the ingredients list in your Pillsbury unroll-and-fill pie crust, and you’ll see the secret ingredient is really just lard.