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Quick how-to’s for baking beginners

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Aspiring bakers have all been there – what does a recipe mean when it calls for cream to be beaten to soft, firm or stiff peaks? What is the correct baking time when the oven you have differs from the one used in the recipe? Here are some quick answers for novice bakers.

How to separate eggs
After painstakingly separating several egg whites from their yolks, an accidental break with the last one ruins the entire batch, and there’s nothing to be done but to repeat the time-consuming (and delicate) process. Fortunately, there are relief measures for this baking disaster.

Start by using cold eggs.  When they’re cold, egg yolks tend to hold their shape better and separate more easily.  If the recipe needs eggs at room temperature, just let the mixture warm up after separating them. The Electrolux FlexFresh range of fridges comes with flexible storage that allows you to conveniently store your eggs in the fridge, while a quick chill mode helps to cool them down quicker before separation if the eggs are stored at room temperature.

When cracking the egg, hit it gently against the counter – this has been found to be best at preventing bits of egg shell from getting into the yolk while breaking it. Finally, to ensure no accidental mixing of egg yolks
with whites, try using three bowls.

Simply crack the egg into the first bowl, separate the yolk and put it into the second bowl, then pour the remaining egg white into the third. Repeat the process with the remaining eggs.


How to separate egg whites
How to whip egg whites

When a recipe asks you to whip egg whites or cream into a firm peak, it can be hard to tell when to stop before it becomes too stiff. Here are some quick descriptions for the types of “peaks” you’ll encounter while
whipping.

A mixture with no peaks takes only a few minutes of whipping and it won’t hold any shape at all. Egg whites appear foamy and opaque.  Soft peaks can be seen when the whisk is turned upside down. They will hold for a second before melting back into the mix.

Firm peaks will hold, with distinct ridges when you turn your whisk upside down, but the tips of the peaks will fold back onto themselves. Stiff peak will hold and point straight up without collapsing at all when the whisk is turned upside down. The cream or egg white mixture will be thick and heavy. Consider an electric hand mixer like the Electrolux EHM2000 to assist with whipping – the machine not only automates the process flawlessly, you can also set it to one of five speeds to ensure that you don’t over-beat the
cream or egg whites.


How to whisky eggs

How to tell when your cake is done
Leaving a cake too long in the oven results in a dry, crumbly confection. Yet undercooking it could result in a soggy, raw-tasting cake. There are some clues that signal when a cake is done.

If you have a cooking thermometer, take the cake’s internal temperature. Remove the cake from the oven when the temperature in the middle is about 90oC. Intelligent ovens like the Electrolux Inspiro Oven come with built-in sensors that can not only determine how long and how much heat to use in baking a cake, it can also detect when the cake is done.

 

Photo by frugalupstate
A cake is usually ready to be taken out when it pulls away from the sides of the pan, creating a gap between the cake and pan.

Alternatively, if you see the sides of the cake pull away from the pan, with a gap forming between the edge of the cake and the sides, it’s a sign that the cake is ready to be taken out. The middle of the cake should also feel springy when gently pressed with a finger.  Or use a thin skewer like a toothpick and insert it into the centre of the cake – if it comes out with no streaks of batter, the cake is ready.

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