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Baking tips and tricks

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

Everybody’s looking for new isolation hobbies and for many, that comes in the form of baking.

Mixed berry and choc-chip muffins.

Baking is great because it’s something you can do by yourself, something you can do while listening to music or watching a movie you’ve seen a thousand times, and the best part is you get something delicious to eat at the end.

If you’re just getting into baking, or you're still not sure how to start on that first isolation banana bread, never fear! Here are a few baking tips and tricks to make it all a bit easier.


I’ve always cooked from recipes. The idea of just making up the mix of ingredients blows my mind.

I love reading cookbooks and food magazines and picking out my favourites. I have a folder full of recipes that I’ve only really cooked a couple of. But you don’t need to have a recipe book to get inspired!

Google search for a recipe you want to make and pick one with good reviews, a simple list of ingredients (not five different types of flour) and measurements that make sense (even in isolation, nobody’s got time for measuring exactly 83 grams of sugar).

Once you’ve got a good one, interchange the ingredients as you need, based on what you feel like. Add in berries, choc-chips, dried fruit; the list is endless. Stir in some lemon zest if you’re feeling fancy. Change plain flour to wholemeal, or white sugar to brown.

Tip: if a recipe says to use plain flour and baking soda/baking powder, you can just use self-raising flour.


Whenever they talk about baking on Masterchef or in recipes, it is inevitably matched with discussion on the precision of baking. Ingredients MUST be measured exactly. An extra grain of sugar WILL ruin the dish.

Choc-chilli cookies.

At Masterchef level, being precise is probably important and they can actually taste the difference, but if that’s you I don’t know why you’re even reading this article.

In the real world, you have to really go overboard on one ingredient for anyone to notice the difference.

So, whenever you’re measuring anything - be it flour, sugar, milk, spices or anything else - do it over the bowl you’re planning to pour it into and just eyeball the measurement. Use a measuring cup or spoon, but when it looks like it’s roughly the right amount, that’s good enough.

If you think you accidentally put in too much flour or something else dry, add a little extra milk or whatever the wet ingredient is. If you think you put in too much of a spice or flavouring, you probably didn’t. A little extra spice never hurt anybody.

Tip: invest in a (cheap) set of cooking scales. Put your bowl on top and set the weight to zero then you can measure ingredients by weight straight into the bowl. Remember to reset to zero after each ingredient.


Ew, cleaning up. Having to wash the bowls, measuring equipment, mixing spoons and

Banana-strawberry smoothie bowl.

spatulas after baking is extremely de-motivating. But it doesn’t have to be!

Sure, opening a packet of cookies from Coles and only having to throw the rubbish in the bin is way easier. But you don’t get the satisfaction of eating biscuits fresh out of the oven that you’ve made from scratch.

Also, the (often) plastic packaging on store bought bakery items is bad for the environment. So congratulations, baking makes you an environmental hero.

Having to wash up is inevitable - unless you have kitchen staff at your house or very nice family members/housemates. So one tip is to get it out of the way as fast as you can. T

he best thing about baking is that your creation has to cook in the oven for usually at least 10 minutes. Use that time to get all the cleaning done, then you can relax and enjoy the finished product.

Tip: Try making a rule for yourself that you can’t take anything out of the oven until the cleaning is done. This puts the pressure on if you don’t want to eat rock hard brownies, burnt cookies or dry cake.


Cooking times can be tricky because, weirdly, every oven is different. It also depends if you’ve fully pre-heated your oven, if it’s fan-forced or not, if you put the tray near the top or the bottom, and so on.

Look at the suggested cooking time in the recipe and put a timer on for three to five minutes less. When the timer goes off, check how everything’s looking. Recipes usually tell you what to look for but really you’re not going to be certain of what something should look like unless you’ve made the recipe before. So take your best guess and cross your fingers.

Tip: Remember it’s usually better to slightly undercook than overcook.

Looking for where to start? Here’s my favourite muffin recipe, based on the one in Julie Goodwin’s ‘Our Family Table’ cookbook. Be sure to let us know in the comments what you make, and tag us in photos!


Article & Photos: April Austen

Recipe: Julie Goodwin


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