Tips on Ingredients

 Best Baking Tips and Tricks


Almonds are used in cooking: whole, flaked, chopped, ground or toasted. Toasted almonds have a delicious flavour.

Avocado pear
Store in fridge with the pip left in to prevent discolouration.

Baking powder
It will have a longer shelf life by turning upside down to prevent air coming in.

Prevent the crust from cracking by making three to four cuts on top of the dough with a sharp knife.

To use frozen butter for creaming in a cake, start by grating it coarsely to become soft quicker.
When creaming butter for baking, rinse the bowl with boiling water and the creaming will be much easier.

Biscuits fresh
Biscuits and rusks will stay fresher for longer when a layer of sugar is placed on the bottom.

Biscuit bases
Use a potato masher to press down biscuit based for pies and cheesecakes.
Crumb crust variation:
– 180 g rolled oats and 90 g melted butter
Ginger – use ginger biscuits instead of digestive, etc.

Black pepper
It is the dried, unripe fruit of the Piper Nigrum, found in the East Indies. This spice lends flavour and excitement to most foods. It quickly loses flavour and aroma when ground, therefore for the best results use a pepper mill and grind it when required.

Cake sticking
If cakes stick to baking tins, place the tin on a wet cloth and the cake will loosen.

When cooking with cheese, add towards the end of cooking. If added too soon, it becomes tough and stringy.

Chocolate substitute
Mix 50 ml cocoa powder and 10 ml oil for each 25 g chocolate needed.

Generally the smallest ones are the hottest and fiercest when green. Seeds should be discarded to reduce the heat of chillies, as this is the hottest part. Dried or powdered forms can be used to substitute fresh.

Coating with flour
Use empty spice bottles to sprinkle flour onto fish, chicken or alternatives before frying. It is less messy than rolling it in flour.

Cookies – baking

* Chill the dough for about 15 – 30 minutes before shaping or cutting cookies.
* When rolling cookies out, put only enough flour on surface and rolling pin to prevent sticking as to much flour will result in hard cookies.
* Cut cookie dough as close together as possible. Remaining dough should be worked in with fresh dough.
* Use a salt shaker to sprinkle sugar on top of cookies.
* If no cutter are available, use a drinking glass with a thin edge.

Whole cinnamon sticks gives a spicy aroma to food. Whole sticks are used and later removed. Ground cinnamon are normally used in baking.

Crêpes freeze well, stacked between layers of wax paper. Allow batter to rest for a couple of hours.

Crushing biscuits
If crushed biscuits are required, roll them in a closed plastic bag.

Curry too strong
Reduce the strength if too strong by stirring in natural yoghurt.

Dip scissors in cake flour to cut marshmallows, dates or raisins easier.

Fresh dates freeze well and do not lose their flavour or texture. Dried dates are convenient to use in cakes and puddings and will keep well for up to six months.

Dried fruit in cakes
Heat dried fruit for 2 – 3 minutes in oven and coat in cake flour to prevent from sinking in cake mixture.

Dried fruit
To soften – pour water over fruit and heat in microwave on high for about 45 seconds. Stand for about 2 minutes, strain and use.

Egg white
Beating – To improve beating egg white, add a few drops of lemon juice.

To establish if eggs are fresh, drop in a cup of salt water where 2 tbsp of salt is added. If it drifts to surface, discard.

Fruit discolours
When using fruit that discolour, sprinkle cornflour over to prevent it from happening.

When frying with butter, automatically add a little oil to the pan. This will prevent the butter from burning.


* Fresh garlic should be stored in a cool place and can be kept up to 2 months.
* Heat garlic cloves on high for 20 – 30 seconds until just warm. Squeeze and cloves should pop out of skin easily.
* To keep garlic fresh, peel the cloves and place in a glass container. Cover with oil, seal and place in the refrigerator. Use both oil and cloves as required.
* The heavy flavour of garlic, like that of onion, disappears if you simmer it in a liquid.

Never boil gelatine, dissolve over a low heat.

It is found in many forms – ranging from fresh, ground, dried to preserved. All these lasts very long, except for fresh ginger, which will only keep up to 2 months providing it’s kept in a cool, dry place.

When substituting dried herbs with fresh ones, use 1/3 the quantity called for fresh. Dried herbs are much more concentrated than fresh.

When crystallized, remove lid and place jar in microwave. Heat on high for about 30 seconds. Stir until it becomes smooth.

To make a delicious icing, add mashed banana and a little butter to the icing sugar.


* Heat lemons for a few seconds in the microwave or oven as this will ensure that more juice can be obtained.
* Lemon yields: As a guide a medium lemon will give about 15 ml grated rind and 45 ml juice.

Lining a pan
Before spooning dough into pan, first line out with wax paper on base and on sides if possible. Spray or grease as this will ensure that paper is removed easily.

Measuring syrups
Before measuring syrup or jam, wet the spoon with hot water.

Mushroom cutting
For easier slicing of mushrooms, use an egg cutter.

Microwave – cleaning
Place a bowl filled with water and a slice of lemon into the microwave oven and cook for a few minutes until boiling and steaming. Wipe the interior with a soft cloth.

Measuring syrups
Before measuring syrup or jam, wet the spoon with hot water.


* Place in oven for a few minutes to remove it easier from shell.
* When toasting almonds or any other nuts, place a layer on a baking tray and bake at 150 °C, turning constantly until golden brown.
* To keep nuts fresh, store in deep freeze.
* When using nuts as garnishing for cakes, soak it in milk for about 30 minutes before using. It will change colour to golden brown after being baked

To prevent crying when chopping onions, soak for about 5 minutes in cold water. Cutting in cold water will also help.

Oranges or lemons
When grating the rind, remove only the zest and not the white pith as this will give a bitter flavour to the dish.

Paper piping (pastry) bag
Begin by shaping the piping bag with a triangular piece of baking paper. Take the top corner of the paper and roll it along the longest edge. Pinch the point of the roll with one hand and continue rolling the paper with the other. When all the paper has been rolled, tuck the remaining flap inside the cone. Cut a small point from the end of the bag. If a larger opening is required, cut small pieces from the tip until you have the size you need; if too large a tip is cut, the filling may run out too easily. For the best results, fill the bag only half full with mixture.

Peeling apples and tomatoes
Put in boiling water for a few minutes for the skin to peel off easily.

Best known and most generally used of all herbs. Enhances flavour of sauces, soups, stews, fish and meat etc. and also used as part of bouquet garni.

To prepare a light pastry dough, add little lemon juice to water when making the pastry dough.
Pastry crusts are inclined to go soggy when filling is put in. Brush egg white on inside of crust before filling the pastry.
Tough, badly shrunk pastry is usually caused by using too much liquid.
Dip knife in hot water before cutting pies.

When baking rusks, allow the freshly baked loaves to stand on a wire rack overnight and cut the next day. This will prevent a lot of crumbs and breakage of rusks.

Pack the unbaked scones close together on a baking tray as this will result in a softer and moister scone.

Sour Milk
To turn milk sour, add 15 ml vinegar or 20 ml lemon juice to 250 ml milk.

Sour cream
It’s ideal for dips, sauces and desserts. When adding it to any hot dish, it should be done at the end of the cooking time and not boiled or else it will curdle.

Real vanilla beans are truly fragrant and the aroma very pleasant. Vanilla essence are normally used because the vanilla pod is difficult to obtain.

Working on wooden board
To prevent a wooden board or bowl moving, place a cloth underneath.