Martha Stewart's Top Baking Secrets

Learn to create the finest desserts and goodies in your own home with tips from domestic goddess Martha Stewart.

Whether you're a beginner, expert or somewhere in between, discover Martha Stewart's techniques to create delectable baked goods. In Season 2 of Martha Bakes on LifeStyle FOOD, you'll be given the confidence to bake from scratch, in your own kitchen. Martha's updated versions of the classics set the standard, while her uses of flavour and ingredients add new angles to some familiar favourites. 

Coffee Cakes

Coffee cakes are perfect for entertaining over afternoon tea. These tips will go the extra mile:

* Use softened butter to ensure the mixture creams a lot quicker

* When spooning the batter into tin moulds, use an ice cream scoop. They are so easy, great for cookies, cupcakes and muffins, and save a lot of time and mess

* To impress guests, Panettone Paper looks pretty and makes muffins a gift, rather than just a muffin

Shortbread

Shortbread is a delicious and versatile baked good that make great presents. Mix up a lot of batches, press into tart tins, chill, bake and store for when unexpected guests pop over. To ensure yours are picture perfect, follow these hints:

* A 10 inch removable bottom quiche pan is great to bake shortbread in

* Holes will make the shortbread bake more evenly. Use a bamboo skewer and insert all the way down to the bottom of the tin

* To make the surface ultra smooth, put a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and use your hand to press down. If you have trouble leveling off, use the bottom of a flat cup measure

* Use the back of a sharp knife to score, as it will make it easier to break off once cooked

* If you're going to do a lot of baking, find a local farmer who grows organic chickens to get your supply of eggs from, or organic is just as good. It will make all the difference to your cooking

Brioche

Brioche is a versatile treat that can be sliced for French toast, or if a day or two old, used for bread and butter pudding. A few simple tips will allow you to create the perfect brioche:

* If you have a mixer with a dough hook it will simply the entire process 

* The dough has to be double in size before it can be formed into whatever shape brioche you're after

* Spray the surface that's going to be touching the risen with a bit of vegetable spray. This will make sure the risen dough won't stick and destroy the round tops of the brioche

Cookies

Cookies are a fun way of getting your kids into the kitchen. Martha makes the process easy with these tricks:

* For chocolate chip cookies, make sure the brown sugar is soft and malleable so that it can be really packed in

* Use black iron trays only, no paper. Available at fine baking stores, they can also be used for puff pastry

* When sprinkling cookie tops with sugar, add a touch of water to ensure the sugar adheres

* The best way to cut up chocolate for cookies is using a serrated knife. It will create the perfect chunks you're after

Croissants

Nothing beats a Sunday morning with the paper and a light, flaky croissant to enjoy, right? Martha agrees. Here are her top tips for the perfect flaky pastry:

* Flavourless vegetable oil will keep dough soft and malleable

* Croissants have to double in size when cooking

* To make your croissant a bit more extraordinary, fold almond paste right into the bottom of the pastry and roll up as you usually would

Bread

How good is the smell of fresh bread?! Baking bread can be fun and a great way of adding a bit of extra nutrition to your diet through seeds, nuts and berries. For a healthier alternative to white bread, you can use coarse bran (outer coating of the wheat)

To ensure your bread looks authentic and tasty as possible, follow these tips:

* Make sure baking powder is fresh and hasn't expired

* A light touch of vegetable spray will prevent dough sticking to the wrap

* If you're unsure as to whether the bread is done or not, stick an instant read thermometer right in the side of the bread. The thermometer should read 205 degrees, to ensure the interior is cooked

* Heavy breads require two packages of yeast. Generally two loaves of bread require one package of yeast

 

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