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BAKING TIP OF THE WEEK – STILL MORE BREAD BAKING POINTERS AND TIPS

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We gave you a number of bread baking tips a week ago, so here are a few more that may help you create that perfect loaf or bun that you want to bake. Whether you are baking at home or in your own bakeshop, knowing how to properly bake bread is essential for any baker. There are some tips and tricks to baking bread that you cannot find in your recipe books, so these should come in handy.

If you are unsure of your yeast, proof it – if you are not sure whether or not the yeast in your stock is still good to use, don’t buy a new batch just yet. You can test for activity by proofing your yeast. To proof your yeast, you should prepare a small bowl and add a half cup of warm water. Add in a small amount of sugar or some honey, then add in a bit of yeast. Stir the mixture and let it sit for 15 minutes. If in that time you do not see any froth or bubbles, you need new yeast. If your mixture produces bubbles and looks like beer, then your yeast is still good.

Try to lower the amount of flour you add in – if you want bread that is light and fluffy, and not dense or hard as a rock, always keep your flour amounts lower than is usually expected. Use a ratio of 2 is to 1 for flour to water. Don’t be tempted to go overboard when it comes to adding flour, especially if you feel that your dough is rather sticky. Adding more flour to reduce stickiness, even when the recipe does not call for it, will result in a dense and tough bread.

Don’t use flour on your board when kneading – if you look at most bread recipes, you will find that part of the procedure before kneading is to lightly dust your board with some flour to prevent sticking. Adding flour to the surface while kneading will only result in tough bread. Instead of using flour, lightly spray the surface of your kneading board with olive oil or even a bit of water. Do not worry about your dough sticking since you can easily scrape off the dough with a bench scraper.

Longer but slower rise time will result in more flavorful bread – while warm temperatures may help your bread to rise faster, delaying some of the rising time is said to produce more flavorful breads. Do this by letting your dough rise first in its initial rising stage (the bowl rising stage) in a warm place, then after you’ve shaped your bread, let it sit in your refrigerator for at least 8 hours, take these out and let these loaves get to room temperature before getting them to rise a second time before baking.

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EASY RECIPE FOR THE WEEK – BLUEBERRY AND LEMON LOAF CAKE

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1-3/4 cups granulated white sugar
  • Grated zest from one lemon
  • 3 whole eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 cups frozen or fresh blueberries
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Lemon Topping

  • 1 tablespoon Fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

PROCEDURE:

  1. Preheat your home or bakery oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 177 degrees Celsius.
  2. In the bowl of your cake mixer, cream first your 1 cup butter, then add the granulated sugar, followed by the lemon zest. Beat these at medium together for 5 minutes.
  3. Next, add in the eggs one at a time. Keep beating at medium after each addition.
  4. In another bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together. Combine the rest of the dry ingredients in this bowl.
  5. Incorporate both wet and dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture alternatively. Add flour, then milk, then flour, then milk, until everything is mixed in.
  6. Mix in your vanilla extract then add the blueberries in last. When you add the berries, mix at low and only to evenly distribute the berries in the batter.
  7. Grease with butter and line with parchment paper 2 loaf pans for your loaf cakes.
  8. Pour in the batter evenly into each and tap lightly on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Place in your preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes to one hour.
  9. Meanwhile, whisk together all the ingredients for the topping until you get a smooth, syrupy consistency. Set aside.
  10. When your cakes are done, remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  11. As soon as your loaf cakes are cool enough to handle, remove from the pan and place on a platter. Pour the lemon flavored topping on each loaf and serve.
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CHOOSING BETWEEN NON-STICK BAKING PANS AND STANDARD PANS

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One of the dilemmas some people face when it comes to baking is in choosing the baking pans they will buy for their baking needs. There are many baking pans to choose from and these include different sized and shaped pans for cakes, muffin pans for cupcakes, cookie sheets, jelly roll pans, and many more. There are also pans that are great for use with items that you bake then chill afterwards due to the different ingredients these have.

Apart from the types of pans that you need to choose from and buy to complete your collection of baking accessories and equipment, you will also need to find out whether non-stick pans are better for your needs or standard pans are better for you. How can you determine this? Let us begin with a small definition of what each type can do.

Standard Pans – these are cheaper than Teflon coated or non-stick pans, and are often chosen by those who are budget strapped. These pans present people with some challenges however, like cakes and cookies sticking to improperly greased and floured pans. These are often made out of either stainless steel or aluminum, with the latter being the more popular choice since this material is lighter and cheaper as well.

Non-Stick or Teflon Coated Pans – these pans are generally more expensive than your standard baking pan, however these are easier to use and clean that pans that do not have a non-stick coating on them. What some people may not realize when it comes to non-stick baking pans is that, in order for these to remain as pristine as the day you bought them, or to ensure that the Teflon coating does not peel or get damaged, you will still need to use protective materials on these while baking. When we say protective materials, we mean parchment paper, baking paper, foil, or wax paper.

So, what is the verdict when it comes to these two? It is actually a matter of preference, as well as a matter of budget. It is also essential for you to know that some baked goodies cook better on standard pans than on Teflon coated ones, and vice versa. For instance, if you are creating a mixture that has a baked bottom and a chilled top layer, you might want to use a non-stick springform pan for this instead of a standard one. This will make it easier for you to make such a dessert. If you want properly browned baked goodies or crusty ones, standard pans are considered a better choice.

More on baking pans in the coming weeks!

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BAKING TIP OF THE WEEK – GENERAL BREAD BAKING TIPS

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When baking bread, you should know that one of the secrets to good bread is in following the rules that are set for these. You need to give the dough time to rise, you need to use active and fresh yeast, and you also need to use fresh and quality ingredients in order to produce great bread. To help you create the best bread you possibly can, here are some tips that may be useful:

  • When measuring your flour into your measuring cups, do not dip your cups directly into the flour jar or container. Instead, use a separate spoon or scooper to get flour from your storage bin and fill your measuring cups this way. This will prevent you from using more flour than you should. Do not tap your measuring cup when filling it up as well, but simply level the top with the use of a spatula. The proper measurement of flour for your bread dough will help keep your bread from being too heavy or tough.
  • How do you determine if you’ve kneaded your dough enough? The old method begins with you removing a ping-pong ball sized ball of dough from the batch you just kneaded and stretching it to check for elasticity. If your dough does not break and instead forms a thin membrane, you have kneaded it enough. If it breaks when you do this, you might want to knead a few more minutes.
  • To test if your dough has risen enough and is ready to be rolled into loaves for the oven, press down the middle of the dough in the bowl. If your fingers leave imprints in the risen dough, then you are ready to punch this down and create your loaves or rolls. If the dough does not hold your finger imprint, you will want to leave this to rise a bit more. For loaves that are left to rise a second time, the same imprint method can be used but do this on the side of only one loaf so as to not damage the entire batch with finger imprints.
  • If you are using whole wheat flour for your bread, do not expect this to rise as high as you would regular dough or dough made using ordinary white flour. If you are adding wheat germ to your white flour for nutritional value, try to keep the measurement down to two tablespoons of wheat germ for every 2 cups of flour to ensure that your dough develops gluten and rises properly.
  • More bread baking tips next week!
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EASY RECIPE FOR THE WEEK – NUTTY TROPICAL COCO CAKE

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INGREDIENTS:

Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 20 oz. or 2 1/2 cups crushed pineapple with juice

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (cashew, walnuts or pecans)
  • 1 cup shredded or desiccated coconut

PROCEDURE:

  1. Preheat your home or bakery oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 177 degrees Celsius.
  2. Mix together all of the ingredients for the cake, just mixing enough to incorporate everything. Do not overmix.
  3. Place in a prepared baking pan (preferably a 13×9 rectangular pan). You can line the pan for easy removal of the cake afterwards, or you can simply grease and dust it before pouring in your simple cake batter.
  4. Bake your cake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick, when inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  5. While your cake is in the oven, prepare your topping. Do this by first melting your butter in a pan, then adding the sugar and milk in with it. Bring this to a gentle boil. Let this thicken a bit (if you want to skip this stage, use condensed milk instead of milk and sugar, then mix melted butter into it until completely incorporated).
  6. Remove your milk mixture from the heat and add in your nuts and the coconut. Set aside.
  7. When your cake is done, before you start to cool it, pour the topping over it evenly and let it soak through. Let cool as always, and slice to serve.
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KNOWING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CONVENTIONAL, A CONVECTION, AND A ROTATING OVEN

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When you are choosing ovens, you will find that you will be presented with choices that include these three – conventional, convection, and rotating. The easiest to discern from all three according to its name is the rotating oven. This is because the name says it all – it is an oven that rotates while it is baking. The other two are easy enough to understand, but can be somewhat confusing to those who are not well-versed in the lingo used by bakers and those who love to cook.

To help you understand what these three oven types are, here are their definitions:

Conventional Oven – as the name implies, this is an oven type that is considered conventional or commonplace because it is what has been used by many for quite some time now. In short, from the word “convention”, which means something usual or widely accepted, ovens that are conventional are those that have been used for ages, and these are those that use heat that comes from hot air that stays stationary within the oven cavity. The heat source can be anywhere from the bottom to the sides to both bottom and sides of the oven, depending on the individual design that a manufacturer creates.

Convection Oven – this is an oven that works on the premise that if hot air is distributed evenly, anything you bake will be cooked perfectly and quickly. This is actually true but dependent on the quality of the convection oven that you use. A convection oven works just like a conventional oven, with one big difference. Instead of relying on the hot air to settle where it may in the oven, these ovens distribute the hot air evenly within the cavity of the oven with the use of a fan that is built into the back of the oven’s casing. This fan helps to circulate the hot air in the oven to help everything within cook evenly – pans in the bottom don’t cook faster and pans at the top don’t cook slower. This also allows you to cook more pans at the same time since these will cook equally and at the same amount of time.

Rotating Oven – as we mentioned earlier, these ovens are easy enough to distinguish due to the fact that these have a rotating feature within that turns your pans round and round to ensure that what you are baking is done evenly and on all sides. Think of this as a conventional oven with a microwave oven feature within (yes, these have a similar rotating table inside). Sometimes though, when your ovens are rather large, the rotating feature is not a single middle entity that turns your pan round and round in a circle, but rather has a ferris-wheel type feature where pans are rotated top to bottom to ensure that all baked goodies get the benefit afforded by the hot heat at the bottom, and the low heat at top. This ensures that no matter how many items you bake, these are baked evenly and perfectly every single time.

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BAKING TIP OF THE WEEK – HOW TO CHOOSE AN OVEN

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One of the things you will need to do when you decide to start baking, or even to start a bakery, is to choose an oven. There are many different types of ovens to choose from, and these include rotating, convection, and conventional ones, to mention just a few. How can you choose the right oven for your needs and what factors should you consider when choosing one?

One of the main factors that people tend to look at when choosing ovens, and stoves for that matter, is whether it runs on gas or electricity. This is often the case when you choose a home that does not allow the use of gas-operated appliances (like condominiums). When you are thinking of putting up a business that requires the use of an oven or other type of cookware (stainless steel cook tops, stoves, and the like), gas is often the best option. This is because gas cooking appliances are often cheaper to operate than electric operated ones.

When choosing an oven, one of the considerations you need to make is in how big an oven you actually need. If you are fond of baking, a bigger oven may be in order. This will allow you to bake more than just the occasional pan of brownies or a two layer cake once-in-a-while. Bigger ovens will allow you to bake not only small amounts of pastries, but also larger batches for business purposes. These kinds of ovens will also permit you to bake savory dishes that are rather sizeable and will need a bigger space, like roast suckling pig, a whole turkey, and other similar items.

You should also consider the space you have for this appliance. If you do not have any space in your place, you might need to scale down your ideas and go for a smaller oven. If you have a lot of space, you can go for bigger ovens that will eat up a lot of space and will need extra space around it to help prevent your oven from overheating. If your oven is for business purposes, the size of your oven should be tantamount to your business plans and needs, and this will mean that you should find a large enough place for your equipment before you choose an oven.

Next, you will need to consider your budget. If your budget is not a problem, you can always go for a top-of-the-line piece that goes for tens of thousands to a hundred thousand pesos or more each. These usually come from some of the premier brands of appliances. You can also opt for ovens that are custom made particularly for you or your business. You can have such pieces fabricated by experts in the industry who know a lot about these equipment, and can give you sound advice regarding such purchases.

In the end, the choice of oven is often dependent on your needs, your budget, your particular situation, and what you want. To find out more about the different kinds of ovens you can choose for your business, and what customization options you may have for these, contact us today!

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EASY RECIPE FOR THE WEEK – CAKE POPS

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Okay, so maybe it is not as easy as it should be, but with some patience and perseverance, you can produce high-quality cake pops. You will need to have cake pop pans, or better yet, silicon cake pop molds, if you are planning on creating the round baked cake ball kind. If you are planning on going the original route (which is to crumble cake, and create balls out of this), then you may have it easier. Either way, here is what you need:

INGREDIENTS:

  • Your favorite cake recipe (choose a cake that is dense and won’t fall apart)
  • Your favorite icing recipe (better if you use royal icing for this since it sets rather well. You can also choose to use ganache for this)
  • Cake pop sticks
  • Sprinkles, colored sugar, desiccated coconut, and other decorations you can add to your cake pops

PROCEDURE:

  1. If you are to bake your cake pops in the silicon cake pop molds, you simply need to mix your favorite cake recipe, fill the cake pop molds 3/4 of the way, then bake these for 20 minutes.
  2. Remove the molds from your oven and leave this to totally cool down.
  3. While cooling your cakes, prepare icing.
  4. If you are going to create cake pops using the crumbling method, bake your cake recipe in the usual manner (using regular cake pans), then let these cool before crumbling these into a bowl.
  5. When your cake is crumbled, mix in a bit of icing at a time then combine until you get a cookie-dough like consistency. Chill for half an hour before you start making your cake balls from this.
  6. When your cake ball dough is ready, create 1.25 inch balls with your hands. Measure if you want these to come out uniformly. Place each formed ball on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Once the sheet is filled, place in the freezer to chill and set for another half hour. You can also let these set in your refrigerator for a couple of hours.
  7. Whether you are using baked or formed cake pops, the next step will be the same for both. Dip your cake pop stick tips in some icing or ganache before inserting these into the prepared balls.
  8. Once you’ve finished attaching the sticks, you will then need to dip each pop carefully into the icing.
  9. Place each covered pop onto a cake pop holder until it is set. You can cover the icing with colored sugar, sprinkles or other light decorations while it is still wet. Leave the cake pop upright on the holder until it is set.
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GET TO KNOW YOUR OVEN

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No, you don’t go over to your oven and introduce yourself to it. When you are told to get to know your oven, you are basically being told to find out what quirks and features these have. This is to enable you to use your oven properly and to help you bake what you need to bake as best as possible.

When you first acquire your home or bakery oven is when you first need to acquaint yourself with it. This means, you will have to find out whether it is properly calibrated or not, if there are low heat and high heat spots, and so on. To be able to determine this, you first need to get yourself a separate oven thermometer.

Some of the ovens that are being sold today come with a built in thermometer, while others do not have one. Some have indicators that tell you whether the oven has reached your set temperature, some don’t. Follow the instructions that come with your oven regarding setting the right temperatures you need, but before you do so, place your oven thermometer in the middle of your oven’s center rack.

When your oven reaches the set temperature (according to instructions), check your separate oven thermometer to check if this is the same as the set temperature, if it is not, you can either have it calibrated or you can adjust your oven temperatures and take note of the corresponding levels you need to set to get the desired heat from your oven.

Another thing you need to do in order to get to know your oven pretty well is to find out what features it has and what settings you can use with it. Does it have a broil setting? Does it have a rotisserie? Does it have other special settings? Knowing what your oven has and what it can do will help you utilize it properly. It can also help you avoid costly mistakes (like setting it to broil instead of bake, and ending up with burnt pastries because of this).

Once you are familiar with your oven, and you are confident with what it can do, baking and cooking in it will become a breeze. You will know what temperature to use, what settings are ideal, where to place your pans when baking, and what not to do with it as well.

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BAKING TIP OF THE WEEK – HOW TO MAKE CAKE POPS THAT DON’T FAIL

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You’ve seen these at kiddie birthday parties, at baby showers and even at weddings. These have taken over cupcakes as the handy go-to cake-like dessert on dessert tables, and they are still gaining popularity as we speak. These are those lollipop-like confections that you see coated with icing and other stuff, like sprinkles, colored sugar, and even nuts.

There are a few ways that you can use to make these cake pops, and one is with the use of a cake-pop maker (similar to takoyaki makers) that is stand alone. Another is by way of cake-pop pans that you put in your oven to bake. A third way is by making the cake, crumbling it then adding icing and forming the balls. All three can create the cake pops that people enjoy.

As cute as these tiny desserts can be, these are not that easy to make. These can easily fail if these are not done properly and if some of the steps in making these are not followed perfectly. Of course, it would not hurt if you had a few tricks up your sleeve when it comes to crafting these adorable little cakes-on-a-stick. To start you off, here are some tips and tricks that might help.

  • Don’t roll your cake pops too big – while a bigger pop may mean more cake on a stick for a person to eat, it is actually something you should not do. Aside from this defeating the purpose of the pop, which is to create lollipop sized cakes that can be eaten in one bite, it will also cause your pop to be too dense, making these heavy and liable to fall off the stick. Create pops that are at most an inch and a quarter all around. This is the perfect size – not too big and not to small either.
  • Dip the end of the stick in some royal icing before inserting these into the pop – the icing will act as a glue when it hardens, making the tiny cake ball stick better to the stick.
  • Do not swirl your cake pops in the icing when coating – when you are told to DIP your cake pops in the icing coating, DIP not SWIRL. Swirling your pop in the icing will loosen it from the stick and will cause it to drop into the icing. Make sure that your icing bowl is also filled enough to cover the pop with one dip. Refill the icing in the bowl when it goes down as you work with your cake pops.
  • Tap your cake pops lightly after coating to remove excess icing – too much icing on the pop can also cause it to become too heavy, making it slide down the stick or fall off. Remove excess icing after each dip with a light tap on the side of the bowl before proceeding with the next step (adding sprinkles, colored sugar, etc.) and letting the pop dry.
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EASY RECIPE FOR THE WEEK – HAZELNUT AND CHOCOLATE TORTE

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 70 grams or 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts
  • 30 grams or 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon rock salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated and allowed to come to room temperature
  • 170 grams or 3/4 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 170 grams or 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into squares
  • 170 grams or 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

PROCEDURE:

  1. First, grind your hazelnuts into a fine ground. Use your food processor or blender for this. Once these are ground enough, add in the flour and salt. When these are combined properly, set aside.
  2. Preheat your home or bakery oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit or 190 degrees Celsius.
  3. Next, prepare your pans by lining the bottom with parchment paper. Use a round cake pan (8 x 3 inch) or you can use a springform pan. Set aside.
  4. Make sure to separate the 4 eggs while these are still cold. Once separated, place the separated yolks and eggwhites in different bowls and cover each with plastic wrap. Do not use until these are room temperature, approximately 30 minutes.
  5. Get a heatproof bowl and place this over a saucepan with hot water simmering in it. This is a double boiler setup. You can also use a double boiler, if you have one. Melt your chocolate with the butter in this, and remove from the heat once you get a silky consistency.
  6. Get your electric mixer and in the bowl, add the egg yolks and beat this on medium to high together with half a cup of the granulated sugar. Do this for 5 minutes until you get a thick and pale mixture. Add in the vanilla extract and continue beating on low.
  7. Take the bowl with the egg yolk mixture and slowly fold in the warm chocolate and butter first, then when this is integrated, add in the flour and nut combination. Set aside.
  8. Whip the 4 egg whites until these are foamy. Add in your cream of tartar until you see soft peaks being made. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar while beating the egg whites on a high setting, making sure to check if these form stiff peaks but not dry ones.
  9. Slowly add in your egg white mixture into the chocolate/egg yolk mixture using either a whisk or a spatula. Try not to overmix or your torte will deflate.
  10. Pour the chocolate hazelnut mixture into the pan. Make sure to even out the batter in the pan by smoothing out the top. Bake this for 40 to 45 minutes. You can check for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the middle. If this comes out with moist crumbs, this is done.
  11. Remove your torte from the oven and cool completely on a baking rack. Do not be alarmed if the middle falls a bit and you have crumbs or cracks. This is normal.
  12. When cooled, you can cover the top with a Nutella buttercream icing, or whipped cream.
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OVEN TIPS WORTH REMEMBERING

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Using your oven the right way is what will help you make the best cakes, pastries and baked goodies around. It is sad to note however that not everyone actually knows how to properly use their oven. To help you out, here are some tips that may come in handy when you purchase your first home or bakery oven from us.

  • Calibrate your oven, or have it calibrated by a professional – while most ovens, when purchased brand new, work perfectly well, there are times when these do not really give you the temperature that you require. Calibrate your oven by using an oven thermometer that is separate from the one that your oven already uses. If the temperature on your other thermometer is different from the one your oven has, you should call in a professional to fix this.
  • Never open your oven door while baking unless it is required – unless your cakes or cookies are done, or you are near the time when it is supposed to be done and ready for testing, never open your oven doors while your cakes and pastries are baking. This will cause your cakes to fall, your cookies to fail, and other pastries to not turn out the way they are supposed to. If you are one of those people who love checking on the progress of their baked goodies, invest in a good oven light so that you can check through the oven’s glass door how your goodies are doing.
  • Clean your oven regularly – a clean oven will result in baked stuff that do not have other odors mixed into it. Your baked goodies may smell differently if you leave your ovens uncleaned for a long period of time. Overflows, burnt batter, and other gunk left inside your oven can make your other baked stuff smell weird. Clean your oven when you see these leftovers or overflows in it. Clean it as well once a month to remove any odors or residual aroma from other items you baked in it.
  • Check your oven door seals regularly – this is another thing that you need to pay attention too as well. Since some door seals deteriorate over time, these make your ovens less effective and let’s heat escape, making it difficult for you to reach the ideal temperatures you need for baking. If your oven does not reach the higher temperatures that you need for baking some goodies, have a professional check your oven seal and have them replace it if these need replacing.
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