Lately I have been baking up A LOT of zucchini bread, trying to use up the surplus that our great zucchini plant was producing in the backyard. One evening everything looked great in the oven right up to about 10 minutes before my loaves were done, then to my great frustration they started to fall in the middle!
Oh no, no, no, no, no. I was staring through the oven window with my jaw on the floor saying “Whaaaaat!? This doesn’t happen to me!” Well, it just did. Now I have to figure out what went wrong. Ugh. Thankfully, there are a lot of great resources out there to help home bakers like me succeed. I did end up figuring out the problem; my baking powder had expired. I also realized I hadn’t adjusted my recipe for the altitude. Those remedies seemed to fix the problem for the next batch of zucchini bread.
How to Avoid Easy Holiday Baking mistakes
My experience got me thinking that there are probably many other folks out there who have had a similar experience. When their oven baked lovelies turn out, well… sad. So I compiled some important baking tips that would be handy to know especially as the holiday baking season has begun!
First off, did you know that your chemical leaveners (baking soda and powder) expire? Make sure you check those ‘best before’ dates on the packaging to save yourself lots of headache.
A good friend called the other day for baking advice. She told me how frustrated she was that her banana bread had stuck to the bottom of her loaf pan. Yep. That’s happened to me on more than one occasion. I have learned when baking quick breads (banana, zucchini, coffee cakes etc.) to treat them just as you would a cake pan. Cover the bottom and sides of the pan with a layer of Crisco and then flour the heck out of your stoneware or glass bread pans (especially the bottom). Metal pans usually release easier, but I say better safe than sorry and follow the same method for any pan. And let them cool for about 10-15 minutes in the pan before flipping and removing the loaves.
If you’re bringing treats to a party, ask the host if there may be any folks attending with food allergies or intolerances. Most folks that endure life with one or more of these learn to be very careful of what they eat. But your host will appreciate your thoughtfulness, and partygoers will be impressed.
Remember to compensate for high altitude! This is a big one. Here’s a great quick guide to compensating for high altitude.
Don’t over mix your batters. Too much will actually cause your cakes, breads and cookies to become too dense by toughening up the gluten in the flour. Stop mixing just when you don’t see any more pockets of dry flour left.
I hope this info is super helpful to you this holiday season. Happy baking :0)