Baking tips from K-State Research and Extension
One of the dilemmas that first time and even veteran bakers encounter is in determining when a baked product is done.
Recipe directions generally provide estimated cooking or baking times, but such times can vary with oven temperature or the number of times the oven door is opened. Note: to take a peek, switching on an oven light (which doesn't affect baking temperature) is preferable to repeatedly opening the oven door.
Karen Blakeslee, KSU food scientist, says to put away the toothpicks and pull out a food thermometer to help determine when baked goods are done. She offers these general recommendations for doneness in holiday baked products:
* Yeast breads: When fully baked, yeast breads will typically sound hollow when tapped. The type of flour and other recipe ingredients (molasses, for example) will affect the color of the finished loaf. For example, a baked Swedish Tea Ring will be light golden brown; a Honey-Wheat Bread will be more golden brown and Swedish Rye Bread a darker brown. To check doneness, insert the probe of an instant-read food thermometer in the center of the loaf (but not touching the bottom of the baking pan). When the yeast bread is done, the thermometer should register 195 to 210 degrees F.
* Quick breads: quick bread relies on baking soda, baking powder (or both) and eggs, rather than yeast, for leavening. When done, quick breads are typically nicely browned, but often will have a break or crack down the center. The break in the dough allows steam to escape during baking and is normal for a quick bread. To test doneness with a food thermometer, insert the probe of an instant read food thermometer in the center of the loaf (but not touching the bottom of the baking pan). When the quick bread is done, the thermometer should register 210 degrees F.
* Cookies: Baking times for cookies can vary with the diameter and thickness of the cookie, density of the dough and the type (shiny or dark) of pan. Most types of cookies are done when the edges turn a pale golden brown. When making drop cookies, using a cookie scoop or two spoons to position the dropped dough 2 inches apart (unless the recipe directs otherwise) will ensure that cookies on the same baking sheet bake evenly. Lining the baking sheet with parchment paper will help prevent sticking and make the baked cookies easier to remove from the pan.
If you have specific questions about baking problems, please feel free to call me at the Finney County Extension Office, 272- 3670. Happy holiday baking!