Measurements and prep for easy baking – make it easy on yourself!
Or… perhaps this post should be called “the merits of scaling for baking and why ‘mise en place’ should be a thing for home bakers and cooks”. Measurements and prep are the keys for easy baking.
Mise en place – the way around forgetting stuff
Mise en place is a French term meaning ‘put in place’. Very simply, it’s a method of measuring out your ingredients, whether by weight or volume, and getting them all lined up before you cook or bake. It’s a great technique to use if you’ve got a lot of things to bake at the same time. Also really good if you just tend to forget stuff.
I learned this in the Pastry Arts program I took in Culinary School… seemed like a bother, but it’s really a game changer. On a day I want to bake several things, I will do my ‘mise en place’ for all the recipes, putting everything on large baking trays and place the recipe on top.
Baking should be an enjoyable experience
Why is this important? Well, for one, it means you make sure you have all the ingredients for whatever you’re baking. There is nothing worse than being all excited about baking something just to find out that you are out of a critical ingredient!
Another couple of reasons to do this is efficiency and a few less dishes to wash. If you are having a ‘baking day’ and an are making more than one recipe, it’s easy to measure or weigh all the butter for all the recipes at the same time. I set everything for one recipe on it’s own baking sheet with the recipe and go from there.
Weighing for measurements is efficient and accurate – easy prep
Growing up in the UK, all baking used weight measurements, Often clumsy bowl things that sat atop a mechanical scale. This is what bakers had. Nowadays we have these lovely digital scales, which can often be bought very inexpensively. Most scales flip back and forth between ounces and grams so whatever your preference (and your recipe says) is easy enough to use.
When you can weigh multiple ingredients into one bowl, this means you are not washing a lot of measuring cups and jugs. I am not enamoured by washing dishes, not in the least! Fortunately for me, my husband will often wash as I cook (and after I cook truth be told), but sometimes I’m on my own. Even if I am using volume measurements as in the carrot cake recipe shown here, I will combine as much as I can into one bowl, reusing the measuring cup as much as possible.
Take a moment to read the recipe
To make this work, you need to read the recipe thoroughly before you start – really, you should always do this anyway. I look for where ingredients are combined together. So, for the carrot cake, the recipe said to add in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. If you look closely at the picture, you can see I put them all together in the same bowl.
Put it all on a tray
Putting all the ingredients on a baking sheet or a tray is very useful in organising your baking projects. In addition:
This stops me from:
- forgetting to put something in a recipe … if you’ve ever forgotten salt in bread
- trying to proceed with a recipe and finding out I don’t have… cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar etc…. the list goes on!
- not having ingredients like eggs and butter at room temperature – this does make a difference!
A major baking day becomes manageable if you do all the prep before any mixing is started. In the photograph above, I’ve got ingredients prepped for four different recipes. While this may not be a normal event, it was achievable because of the ‘mise en place’.
Try this method, bake up some of my Pineapple Upside Down Cakes and do the measurements and prep first for an easy baking session.
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