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    28 Baking Professionals Shared Some Tips That'll Save You Future Grief

    No, you can't just throw everything into a bowl and mix it at the same time.

    A while back, we asked professional bakers in the BuzzFeed Community to share the most common mistakes people make when baking, and their responses were super helpful. Since then, more people have flooded the comments with tips of their own, so here are some that can save you from a future baking fail:

    1. Be mindful of the order in which you add and mix your ingredients. It matters.

    A recipe that calls for dry ingredients to be mixed before wet ingredients
    Tasty / Via tasty.co

    "The order that you add and mix your ingredients can make all the difference. Anything that lists a fat (butter, shortening) and a sugar near the top of the recipe directions means it’s the creaming method. Whip that shit 'til it’s light and fluffy, then gradually add the other ingredients (most of the time in the order listed)."

    mercadocaterina

    2. And this seems obvious, but read the recipe and actually follow it.

    A person saying, "I ain't reading all that. I'm happy for you though. Or sorry that happened"
    Twitter: @NoContextDM

    "I can’t state this enough: read the recipe and follow the instructions. It’s not cooking; there are no substitutions or guesses. If it says caster sugar, you need to use caster sugar, and you cannot measure with your eye. Cooking is an art. Baking is a science."

    —Lex Johansson, Facebook

    3. Soften butter quickly by steaming it in a hot glass.

    Butter underneath a hot glass
    OnePotChefShow / Via youtube.com

    "To soften butter really quickly without melting it, let the sink run until the water gets the hottest it can. Fill up a large glass cup with the water and let it sit for five minutes. Place the stick of butter standing upright on a plate and cover with the empty hot glass. Let it sit for about 10 minutes..."

    maddiel4eb3afb3d

    4. And remember, softened butter does NOT mean melted butter.

    A pan full of melted butter
    Getty Images

    "If a recipe called for softened butter, that does not mean melt it. It'll ruin the texture. Also, don't use softened butter for pastry. I had a friend do this recently...the butter should be cold and there should be streaks of it in the dough to create layers."

    22doctorwho

    5. Stop using margarine in place of butter. They're not the same.

    A graphic that shows butter is not equal to margarine
    Getty Images

    Suggested by: Morgan McKenna Frisbie, Facebook

    Butter is dairy-based, while margarine is oil-based. According to All Recipes, using butter will give your baked goods a richer flavor and the fat content in it will contribute to its texture. Margarine, on the other hand, may thin out baked goods (like cookies) and cause them to burn.

    6. When measuring flour, either weigh it or scoop and level it into the measuring cup — don't shake it.

    A person leveling off flour into a measuring cup
    Sandoclr / Getty Images

    "Either weigh your flour or do the scoop-and-level measure technique. Do NOT shake the flour to level it as you measure; you end up with way too much. Weighing is best. Scoop-and-level is just scooping into your measuring cup until it’s full, then leveling the top with the flat [side] of a knife."

    —Brynne Clawser, Facebook

    7. Table salt is the way to go when baking. Save the coarse salt for your finishing touches.

    Coarse salt on a wooden spoon and finer salt on a wooden spoon
    Ogichobanov / Getty Images

    "Using table salt instead of coarse salt. When you weigh a teaspoon of table salt vs. coarse salt, you will see how much you are over-salting your baked goods."

    chef_sfarrell

    8. When in doubt, use large eggs.

    Getty Images

    "Use large eggs! Eggs weigh differently, so if your recipe calls for eggs, use large eggs. Not jumbo, not medium, not small. Large."

    chef_sfarrell

    9. Take altitude into account when baking.

    A graphic that explains that high altitudes will require you to bake your good for longer, and change the amount of ingredients you need
    Betty Crocker / Via bettycrocker.com

    "Altitude is important! When I moved to Salt Lake City for a bit, I did not realize how different the cook times or boil times would be! Research how to make alterations if you live in a really high-altitude place."

    abakergal

    10. If using a stand mixer, know exactly when to use the paddle or whisk attachment.

    A person pointing to a paddle attatchment
    cookingguide / Via youtube.com

    "When using a stand mixer, if something calls for you to beat it, use the paddle attachment. The whisk attachment should only be used for whipping things (i.e. egg whites, cream, etc.). Also, when making cakes, mix some flour into your butter before greasing the pan for any light-colored cake (i.e. vanilla) or cocoa powder for dark colored cakes (i.e. chocolate)."

    1sla

    11. Don't over-mix your batter. It can lead to different, sometimes unwanted, results.

    BBC Good Food / Via youtube.com

    "Seriously, this is the one mistake I even see experienced bakers make. Wheat flour forms gluten as soon as it comes in contact with moisture. The structure that gluten gives to doughs and batters is essential for most baked goods and the more you work a dough, the more gluten is formed. That's an essential mechanism when making things like bread dough. However, it also means that overworking things like cake batter can make your cake tough and gummy...or lead to sugar cookie dough or pie crust to be a lot harder to work with. As a rule of thumb, if it's leavened by yeast (or the recipe instructs you to knead a lot) you should do that. Anything else, don't over-mix."

    clarissemcclellan

    12. Invest in a digital scale so you can be precise when measuring your ingredients. Remember, baking's a science.

    A person weighing some flour on a digital scale
    Urbazon / Getty Images

    "My biggest piece of advice is to use a scale and weigh out your ingredients! While using measuring cups, it’s really hard to get an exact measurement of an ingredient. Having even a few grams extra of some ingredients can totally change the makeup of a recipe and really throw off your final product!"

    ntatro0614

    13. Use an ice cream or cookie scoop to help you create even cupcakes and cookies.

    Lindsay Ann / Via youtube.com

    "Ice cream/cookie scoops are super useful. Use them to scoop cupcake batter into cupcake liners/tins. It's less messy than trying to pour or spoon batter and will help distribute an even amount of batter. Use actual cookie scoops for cookies, it will help with an equal bake of each cookie and even coloring."

    sugarrainbowtree

    14. Or you can achieve cookies that are identical sizes by weighing each ball of dough prior to baking.

    A ball of cookie dough on a digital scale
    CupcakeJemma / Via youtube.com

    "If you want your cookies to be the same size and shape, weigh each ball of dough before baking. You'll never have some big, some small again!"

    —Christina Bryant, Facebook

    15. Be patient and give yourself enough time to bake with care and precision.

    Stitch from "Lilo and Stitch" taking a big cake out of the oven
    Disney

    "The biggest thing I would say is GIVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME. All these cake/baking fails online seem to be because people think, 'OK, the party is in an hour, and bake time is 45 minutes. That means I'll have 15 minutes to decorate.' WRONG! You have maybe two hours of work ahead of you, and that's IF you have room to cool your cake in the fridge (add another hour on there if you have to cool the cake at room temp). So, read the recipe days before you need to have the item baked, order all the correct supplies (also, pay that extra money for the good butter, and vanilla...if nothing else, spend money on those things), and give yourself at least two to three times the baking time to get things done...this would be totally different for bread/yeasted items...in that case, you should just expect to use about 3–4 hours."

    karinr4b2c1051d

    16. Always butter your cake pan well and line it with parchment paper to prevent sticking.

    A person lining their cake tin with some parchment paper
    Amy Duska / Via youtube.com

    "BUTTER YOUR PAN WELL!!! People really underestimate the worth of this! Please use parchment in your pan, butter it, flour it! The last thing you want is to spend hours on a cake and have it not come out! BTW, if is this does happen, make cake pops! Scrape out the cake bits and mix them with a little frosting at a time, chill, dip in chocolate, bam!"

    abakergal

    17. Refrigerate your cookie dough prior to baking it, no matter how badly you want your cookies already.

    Chocolate chip cookie dough on a cookie sheet
    Stella / Getty Images

    "After you mix your cookie dough — REFRIGERATE IT to get the fat hard so it doesn't melt like cookie brittle or brownie bark — unless you like it that way! (It's pretty good!!)"

    kittenbags

    18. In order to avoid the film on top of sauces, put a butter wrapper over the sauce.

    A block of butter on its wrapper
    Ruta Lipskija / Getty Images

    "If you're making a sauce that always gets that weird film on the top of it when it cools (almost looks like wrinkles when you're mixing it back together) take a wrapper from a stick of butter and cover it with that. No more weird film!"

    maddiel4eb3afb3d

    19. Proof bread dough quicker by placing it in a cold oven with hot water underneath it.

    A hot pot of water in the oven below a bread loaf tin
    Judi in the Kitchen / Via youtube.com

    "The best way to proof bread is to place the dough in a slightly oiled glass bowl in a cold oven, middle rack. Boil 3–4 cups of water and place that in a bowl underneath and to the side of the dough. Shut the door and let the steam do its thing! Dough does well in a humid environment, and the dough will rise in less time (a big perk if your baking competition is timed — or if you just want delicious bread sooner)!"

    kminfl

    20. Invest in a good oven thermometer so you can ensure your oven is performing as expected.

    An oven thermometer in the oven as a croissant bakes
    Sasinparaksa / Getty Images

    "Buy an oven thermometer! Your old apartment oven is almost definitely not heating to the temperature you set it to. There's a good chance you have uneven heat, hot spots, etc. and a thermometer is the only way you'll know what the real temperature is!"

    kthrnsnclr

    21. I know it's hard not to, but don't frequently open your oven to check on your baked goods.

    A guy smiling and opening his oven
    Violetastoimenova / Getty Images

    "Stop opening the oven so much! Set a timer and pull your food out of the oven to check it, then close the oven door quickly. The heat escapes really fast, so the more you open the oven, the longer your product will take."

    rosenaughtin

    22. The timer doesn't determine when your baked good is done, you do.

    A person checking the status of their cupcakes with a toothpick
    Brittany Schauer Photography / Getty Images

    "I didn't learn this tip until I went to culinary school and it CHANGED MY LIFE. A timer is just to remind you that your item is in the oven, not that it's done. Every oven works differently; just because a recipe says 20 minutes, it might take 15 and it might take 30. Always check the item, and maybe start with less time than listed!"

    r4fc39420e

    23. But don't leave your baked good in the oven longer than it needs to be. Trust in the power of letting your baked goods cool down.

    CupcakeJemma / Via youtube.com

    "Don't be afraid of a cake or cookie that seems too soft. They will harden or dry a little more while resting, so don't leave them in for too long! You can always put something back in oven, but you can't un-bake something."

    —Veronika Stokke-Johnsen, Facebook

    24. Hot cakes will melt frosting, so don't slather it on before the cake has cooled down.

    Melted frosted running down a hot cake
    Chowhound / Via youtube.com

    "Cool your cakes (or anything you're frosting) before [frosting]. If you don't, the frosting will melt and that's how you end up with most of those decorating disaster pictures."

    mglover96

    25. Don't always put looks over taste. After all, someone has to eat it.

    Ms. Juicy looking at a fondant cake with disgust
    TLC / Getty Images

    "If your cake looks great but is basically fondant with a little cream, I'm not interested. Try classical European cakes without fondant and good ingredients. Black forest cake, for example, is about fine ingredients, care, and patience, and the results are always amazing. OK, it might not look like a freaking shoe or something...but what is cake making really about?"

    dennydd

    26. Always do a crumb coat on your cake and chill it afterward (if you have time) before you even think about decorating it.

    A thin layer of icing on a cake that's called a crumb coat
    Juliet Sear / Via youtube.com

    "Crumb coats are your best friend when decorating your cake. Apply a thin layer of frosting on your cake (smooth it out just like it is your final product) so it can catch all the crumbs that would otherwise ruin the beauty of your finished cake. After you’ve applied it, chill the cake in your fridge or freezer and apply your final coat of frosting."

    christasmith1918

    27. When baking bread, let your loaf rest for a few hours before slicing into it!

    A person slicing into a big bread loaf
    The Picture Pantry / Getty Images

    "For bread, let the loaf rest for 3–4 hours before slicing into it. If it is an enriched dough like brioche, rest a little longer. Just like a steak, bread will have some carry-over cooking. If you slice too early, the crumb will be wet and stodgy."

    bandreadygoband

    28. And finally, know exactly what you want your final product to look like and then have the appropriate recipe for it.

    A person attempting to make heart-shaped cookies but they just turned out to be blobs
    CreeperReaperX / Via reddit.com

    "Use the right recipe for what you're trying to make. If you want to do a shaped/cut-out cookie, you need a recipe made to do that. A regular chocolate chip or whatever will just leave you with a blob. If you're doing a cake that is going to be very tall, or have a lot of decoration, or be carved/cut before decorating, you need a sturdy cake. Something light and delicate won't work. Starting with the right recipe for whatever you're hoping to end up with will make every step of the process easier and more successful."

    whut