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Looking to compete in this year’s DB Baking Competition? Here’s how to bake like a pro

The deadline for this year’s DB Kitchen Baking Competition is July 15, with local bakers challenged to share their best bake sale recipes with the community for an online vote. Baking experts Agnes Chin of Complete Deelite and Lan Hee Hong of Flour have some timely advice for all those looking to take part.

First off, both bakers advise that you need to know your oven. “Every oven has a ‘personality,’” Agnes says. “Make sure that the temperature shown on your dial is accurate. If you’re unsure, use an oven thermometer to check. Cakes need to be baked at the exact temperature stated in the recipe.”

And speaking of the recipe, you need to follow it to the letter. “Even if you’re making something simple, read the recipe from start to finish at least once before you begin,” opens Lan.

It’s important to realise that every ingredient in a baking recipe has a purpose, whether it is to enhance the flavour, the texture, or the structure. “Use the ingredients the recipe calls for as these ingredients play a specific role in the science of the bake,” Lan advises. “If you need to substitute an ingredient, make sure you do the research first as it can alter the results.”

In baking, too many factors play into the success rate, so it’s important to proceed calmly and methodically. “Gather your tools and have all your ingredients at hand before you begin,” says Lan. “Measuring the ingredients prior to mixing will result in fewer mistakes.”

The most accurate way to measure wet or dry ingredients is by using a kitchen scale. This may mean that you have to convert cup measurements to grams but it’s worth the effort.

“If you are working in cups, wet ingredients (like milk and oil) should be measured in measuring cups devoted to liquids that have a handle and spout,” says Lan. “Dry ingredients should be measured in the smaller individual cups. When measuring dry ingredients (like flour and sugar), use a spoon to scoop the ingredient into the cup so it is overflowing, then with a straight edge sweep across the top to even it out.”

Unless the recipe states otherwise, have all ingredients at room temperature before mixing. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, it might take 30 minutes to an hour for the ingredients to reach room temperature. If butter keeps its shape and is easy to cut through with just a little resistance, then that is a good level of ‘softness.’ Place eggs in warm water to bring them to room temperature – this way they will whisk well.

“Be sure too that all the ingredients are fresh, including the baking powder or soda,” Agnes advises.

Next step, preheat the oven. “Always switch your oven on well before you’re ready to bake,” says Agnes. “Use the right pan size for your mix, and be sure to grease and line it with parchment paper, or use a non-stick, easy-bake spray. Place the pan right in the middle of the oven, unless the recipe says otherwise.”

Finally, once your bake is in the oven, set a timer so you don’t forget about it. “Don’t assume, however, that the bake time in your recipe is set in stone,” says Lan. “A good approach is to set the timer for the minimum bake time suggested in the recipe and then check the bake at that point for signs of readiness – if a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, your work is done!”

COMPLETE DEELITE specialises in cakes, cupcakes and cookies to order. Cake decorating and baking classes are offered, and you can also shop online for high-end bakeware. Visit www.completedeelite.com.

FLOUR creates modern and sophisticated cakes for special occasions. Baking classes for children and adults, either one-on-one or in groups, are also provided. Visit www.facebook.com/flourhk.

For more on the DB BAKING COMPETITION Visit http://www.arounddb.com/around-db-articles/db-baking-competition-2021/

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