5 At-Home Quarantine Baking Tips
Be honest, did you resort to baking as an activity to fight boredom and pass the time during quarantine? Don’t be shy! Baking is the thing right now! People who’d never even thought about baking have found themselves with the yeast and the flour in the kitchen, and pics of their loaves have traversed the interwebs galore!
Throughout quarantine, baking has been something to share with others and has given people something to be proud of. Baking can be a tricky art form! It’s a science that takes time, patience, chemical reactions, and precise measurements to achieve the best results. So clearly, all that work that deserves a sense of accomplishment when your masterpiece comes out exactly like the picture!
This week, we sat down with Heather McLeod, professional baker, kitchen wiz, and owner of Three Pug Bakery, a full-service bakery and catering business here in Orange County. Heather shared many insights with us and revealed how bakers get to be masters of their creations in the kitchen.
“They say necessity is the mother of invention. This is the time to be inventors,” shared Heather McLeod. Heather couldn’t be more on the nose with this one! When it comes to baking, it’s about knowing the basic skills, so you know where the improv can happen and have fun! Here are Heather’s five baking tips to keep your kitchen running smoothly the next time you quarantine bake!
Heather’s Two Baking Staples
Heather shares that good salt is her kitchen staple. Have you ever wondered why sweet dishes have salt? Why practically everything has salt? Salt is a flavor enhancer. It takes any flavors in the recipe, like vanilla, yeast, or cacao, and makes them taste even richer. It brings flavors together and makes them blend harmoniously. For this reason, it is imperative to have a good salt nearby. Heather recommends a Himalayan sea salt and cautions readers that you can always add salt, but you can never take it out, so use it appropriately.
Heather also says the best thing to have in the kitchen is coffee, but not for a reason you’d guess. She says even if things go south while baking, you can at least take a breather knowing you can fix the perfect cup of coffee, and then pick back up where you left off.
Heather recommends finding a recipe you love and then have fun with it! Yes, baking can be a science, but there is room to have fun. For Heather, she usually goes with a normal yeast bread. After knowing she has the recipe down pat, she adds cranberries (like in this orange cranberry quick bread), herbs, parmesan cheese, and more! Make it fun and make it work with the meal you’re creating. Center the meal around the bread, and create something great.
For rolling out the perfect pie top, Heather says to roll out the diameter of the dough an inch longer than the end of the pan. This way you can have some overhang, and if shrinkage happens in the oven, your crust won’t crack and break. You can always trim the edges of the dough after you let it softly hang on top, but you don’t want to stretch it after you’ve already laid it over the top of the baking dish, as this could cause tears and also is an effect of stretching.
For getting the pie crust on the top of the pan, a best practice is grabbing a well-floured rolling pin and rolling the dough entirely around the pin like a burrito. This way you can slowly unroll the dough over the baking dish without ever having to pick up the entire slab of dough. Pro tip: use a pastry brush to brush off any of this excess flour before baking so the flour does not burn in the oven. And try out this pie crust recipe for a flaky, crispy crust.
Heather challenges all of you to try a new pie this week! Whether it is savory or sweet, open crust or latticework, fruit or chicken and vegetables, go for it! To create the latticework pie crust, cut strips of dough into ¾-inch strips with enough length to make it across the entire pie. Lay five vertical pieces all down first and then alternate lifting the 1, 3, and 5 strips and the 2 and 4 strips while laying down the horizontal strips. Trim, seal, and crimp the edges and you’re good to go! Here is a video explaining how to perfect this!
Have you ever struggled to make a cake that was not moist enough? Here are some egg and oil substitutes to make a deliciously moist cake. Heather shared that she has replaced eggs with mayonnaise! Mayo is already made of eggs and creates a super moist and delicious cake.
For the healthier bunch or those looking to stay away from oil, applesauce can replace oil in many cakes. It keeps it moist, but is way healthier. Try it out!
Heather proved to us that passion and self-confidence are the ingredients to making your dreams come true.
“There’s always a lesson in everything you do. I don’t think anyone truly fails unless you don’t get up again,” said Heather.
We loved talking to her so much and now want YOU to listen to everything Heather has to offer right here, right now! The show is also available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts for easy download and listening! Be sure to subscribe and leave a five-star rating!
Thank you so much to Heather for being on the show and to YOU for reading the blog this week! Have a great weekend everyone, and we will see you around town!