Baking is a process that uses dry heat to cook foods. This is usually done in an oven, but foods can also be baked on hot stones or in hot ashes. The process is used mostly for making foods that use dough, such as breads, cookies, cakes, etc., but it can be used to make many different dishes including those with meats and/or vegetables.
A variety of main dishes can be baked. Season haddock fillets with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cover with prepared bacon, bake for about 30 minutes, and you will have Boston Baked Haddock ready for your dinner. This dish is called 16-Minute Tortilla Pizza because it takes only about 16 minutes to prepare and bake this pizza made with flour tortillas, tomatoes, capers, onions, pepper, and cheese. Meatballs are made with ground turkey, bread crumbs, salt, pepper and butter, then baked and served with a tangy sauce for this Turkey Meatballs with Dipping Sauce recipe.
Many types of breads and muffins can be baked. Alsatian Walnut Bread is made with all-purpose flour. Walnuts are added to give the bread extra texture and flavor. This recipe makes two loaves. Sour cream is added to the mix to create this moist, delicious Amish Sour Cream Cornbread. Adding both applesauce and crushed pineapple to an otherwise ordinary muffin batter makes these Apple Pineapple Muffins extra moist and scrumptious.
Vegetables can be baked to make delicious side dishes or even entrees. Stuffed Delicata Squash for Two makes a satisfying meal for two. The squash is split, the seeds removed, and then baked for about 1 hour. Each half is then stuffed with a mix of barley, vegetable broth, shredded cabbage, apple, mushrooms, onion, garlic and pumpkin. Although these Baked Tomatoes take 2-3 hours to bake, they are very easy to prepare: Simple cut the tomatoes in half, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with pepper, season with garlic and fresh basil, and bake. Rhubarb is sweetened with sugar, and spiced with cinnamon, mace cloves and orange juice, then baked to make this sweet and tangy Spiced Rhubarb Bake
There is an almost endless variety of cookies that can be baked. Salted sunflower seeds are added to the batter to make these Sunflower Cookies. They are baked for 10 minutes. The recipe yields 4 1/2 dozen cookies. Peanut butter is mixed with molasses in this Molasses Peanut Butter Cookies recipe. The dough is baked for 10-12 minutes and yields 2 dozen cookies. A healthy, but delicious cookie, is made by combining oatmeal and carrots, along with raisins, molasses and cinnamon in this recipe for Oatmeal and Carrot Cookies. Bake the dough for 12 minutes; recipe yields 1 dozen cookies.
In addition to cookies, you can create a wide range of desserts to go along with almost any meal. Treat your guests to an unusual but delicious dessert by serving them Pine Nut Pie with Orange Tree Flowers. Pine nuts are combined with milk, vanilla, sugar, eggs, and cream. The finished product is garnished with orange tree flowers. Serve with a glass of Coteaux du Layon for a truly memorable dessert. A simple but delicious dessert can be made by following this Apple Cake recipe. Apples are mixed with sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, eggs, oil and walnuts, then baked for 55 minutes. This 3-Step Cheesecake requires only three steps, and 25 minutes to bake, but it will taste like you spent hours making it.
There is an old saying that cooking is an art, but baking is a science. This explains why cooks who can whip up a dinner without a recipe often fall flat when they try to bake. (Rachel Ray, anyone?) To be a successful baker, following the recipe is crucial – as is understanding a few basic concepts.
What is Baking?
Baking is cooking food using convection (dry heat). Usually, this is done with an oven, but it can also be accomplished on hot stones or ashes. Baking is used primarily for making foods such as breads, cakes, pastries, pies, tarts, cookies, quiches, and crackers.
Accurate measuring is the cornerstone to good baking. In the United States, to measure properly you’ll need a see-through glass or plastic liquid measuring cup (used only for wet ingredients) and dry measuring cups, which usually come in a set ranging from ? cup to 1 cup. For dry measuring cups, stainless steel is best, but if you can’t afford thick, sturdy stainless steel, it’s better to stick with thick plastic ones. (Thin metal cups bend and make measuring difficult.) In addition, you’ll need a set of measuring spoons, either of heavy plastic or heavy stainless steel.
When measuring dry ingredients, spoon them into the measuring device. If you’re measuring flour, fluff it with a fork first. One exception to this advice is measuring brown sugar, which is almost always “packed” or pressed firmly into measuring cups or spoons.
If a recipe calls for 1 cup of sifted flour, for example, and you neglect to do the sifting, you’ll end up with more flour in the recipe than is actually called for. This can make the resulting baked good hard and tough – which is why sifting when called for in a recipe is a no-skip step. To sift, use a special tool called a sifter. Fill the sifter with the ingredient(s) and squeeze the handle or shake the tool. The ingredients will move through the tool and fall into a bowl you’ve placed beneath the sifter. If you don’t have a sifter, a sieve will work. Just place the ingredients in the sieve and shake.
Shortening vs. Butter
Many baking recipes call for either butter or shortening and many people wonder if they can substitute one for the other. First, it’s important to understand both butter and shortening are a type of fat. Butter is made from milk, while shortening can be made from a variety of oils or fats. Possibly the best known shortening in the United States is Crisco - and it’s entirely made of vegetable oil.
Butter tends to add more flavor to recipes, while shortening usually produces baked goods that are lighter and fluffier. So while you can generally substitute one for the other, the end result is usually quite different.
Now all you need are some great recipes. Here are some favorites:
Boston Baked Haddock
16-Minute Tortilla Pizza
Turkey Meatballs with Dipping Sauce
Alsatian Walnut Bread
Amish Sour Cream Cornbread
Apple Pineapple Muffins
Stuffed Delicata Squash for Two
Spiced Rhubarb Bake
Molasses Peanut Butter Cookies
Oatmeal and Carrot Cookies
Pine Nut Pie with Orange Tree Flowers
Apache Bread Cornmeal Rolls
Buttermilk Wheat Bread
Cheesy Green Garden Pizza
Coffee Sticky Buns
Vegetarian Harvesters Pie