Baking 101: Questions and Answers

Welcome to Baking 101 series! This series is a little behind and I apologize. There has been so much happening around here, GREAT things, that I have gotten behind.

So, today I wanted to address some of the questions that readers had for me about baking. Again, I am NOT a professional, I have never had any schooling or classes. I am just a Mom and wife that loves to bake and share my tips and tricks for making it easier for you.

I will continue the series soon, with some more videos {I owe you a pie crust video}, but it will be a couple weeks while I get caught up. {I hope}

The following questions were from readers, if you have a baking question, please leave it in the comments and I will answer it, to the best of my knowledge.

Gigi asks…when a recipe calls for softened butter, do you melt the butter completely?

If I can remember to set the butter out to soften I do, it is better that way, but if you don’t remember, you can soften it in the microwave for about 20 seconds {depending on your microwave}, you can lay it on the warm stove or in the sun by a window. If the recipe calls for softened, you just want it SOFT not MELTED.

I am making a soup that calls for heavy cream…is that the same as heavy WHIPPING cream?

Here is what I found on Difference Between.net “Heavy Cream is a special dairy product that is made out of the top most layer of milk which is rich in cutter fat. On the other hand, the very term “whipped cream” or “whipping cream” refers to such cream that is subjected to a process of continuous beating till it gets fluffy and light.”

Now, with that being said, I personally use heavy whipping cream for both. I have never found JUST heavy cream.

Issy asks…

Should eggs really be at room temperature before using?

I very rarely use eggs at room temperature. I have never really noticed a difference.

If a recipe isn’t specific about butter, should salted or unsalted be used?

I always use unsalted butter. Most recipes call for salt, and if you use salted butter you are doubling up the salt. In my opinion, you really don’t need it.

Why does the idea of using a simple candy therometer scare the daylights out of me? What is a good one to buy?

Honestly…I don’t use one. I’m not a big candy maker, but I do know it is important to use one on certain candies. Here is a good one I found from Wilton.

What is the best way to get recipes from friends that were handed down in their family? Or is this something that shouldn’t be asked?

I would absolutely ASK! I feel like if recipes are not handed down, the history of the family does not continue. I would compliment them on the recipe and tell them that you would be honored to give it a try.

Measuring: should dry items be measured in the pre-measured cups or can everything be measured in a measuring cup? You know, like i do.

Dry ingredients should be measured in a dry ingredient measuring cup and liquid should be measured in a liquid. I have a video on How to measure.

How do you know if a cookie or cookie batter should be frozen before it’s baked or after it’s baked?

I actually rarely freeze cookies, but that is just preference of taste. I have frozen cookie dough a few times with great results. Just scoop and place on a cookie sheet, and flash freeze {place in freezer for a few hours} and then place them in a resealable bag. Baking 911 has a great article on cookies.

If you have baking questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will answer them soon!

I’m linking to…Works For Me Wednesday


  1. I baked a pecan cake in a loaf tin. The recipe instructed to bake for 45 minutes at 180 deg Celsius.

    At 45 minutes, iI is still wet inside. So I baked for 10 more minutes. Now inside is dry but the cake becames hard. My friend commented it is not a cake, more like between bread and biscuit. What went wrong?
    Thanks .

    1. Hi Casey, without looking at the recipe and possibly baking it myself, I don’t know for sure. Did you use the suggested size and type of pan?

    2. Donna Chalmers says:

      Hi I made a white fruit cake today which the recipe says it is nic and moist it,ales a large cake and was to be baked at 350 for 1hr10min. After the time was up. I tested thecake and it wasn’t cooked so I ended up cooking it up for about another 40min. when I tested it the cake tester came out clean but after it was cooled and I cut it to wrap it in smaller pieces it doesn’t seem to be cooked well in the middle is there anything I can do to salvage this cake as it was expensive to make and I would hate to have to throw it away. It was cooked in a 10 inch tube pan as suggested. Would appreciate any help.

      1. Hi Donna, I would need to see the recipe to know for sure, but you may be able to put it back in the oven for a bit.

  2. I have a cheesecake recipe that calls for the oven temperature to be 500 degrees Fahrenheit for the first 10 minutes then decrease the temperature to 200 degrees for the next 90 minutes without opening the oven door. This is for a 10 inch pan, I want to make 3 -4 inch pans. also, this recipe is not baked in a water bath. Can you help with a temperature adjustment for the smaller size pans?

    1. Hi Chris, I’m sorry I don’t have a definite answer for you. I have not personally adjusted oven temps, so I would not feel comfortable telling you where to set your oven to bake the cheesecakes.

  3. i baked a cheesecake with a oreo cookie crust. the cheesecake was great and the crust tasted ok but was as hard as a rock. after some research i realized the recipe i used was for a no bake pie. is there a way to make an oreo crust that i can bake for 1 hr +.

    1. Hi Dave, did you pre-bake the crust first? I don’t have a recipe for a baked crust, sorry. You might also try less butter in the crust, because of the filling in the Oreos. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have other questions.

  4. Hi, I’m having problems making pecan pie. I’ve tried several recipes, which are virtually identical, and they use light or dark syrup. I bake these pies according to instruction (usually 350 degrees and for an hour, sometimes longer) but the insides never seem to set. I cut a slice and the filling is as liquid and runny as the syrup coming out of the bottle. I tried adding a tablespoon of cornstarch, to no avail. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Thanks in advance, Craig

    1. Hi Craig, Here are a few ideas for you…
      1. Be sure your oven temp is correct
      2. Try to blind bake your pie crust, Amy has a good tutorial and recipe here…http://momadvice.com/blog/2012/11/all-butter-pie-crust-recipe-with-picture-tutorial
      3. Try placing the pie in the fridge over night, then slightly warming it before serving
      4. Egg size and humidity might also be a factor, try adding an addition egg or two to the recipe
      5. I’m told that America’s Test Kitchen recipe for Maple Pecan Pie is fool proof, although it looks like you would need to sign up for their newsletter to access the recipe…http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/login.asp?docid=5857

      Hope that helps! Let me know if you have other questions.
      Happy Baking!

  5. Patti Callahan says:

    My banana breads and pumpkin breads always have brown turned up edges around the pan. does that indicated an oven temperature problem or the type of loaf baking pan?

    1. Hi Patti, I would guess it was mostly because of oven temps. However, it could also be that your ingredients were too cold. It’s best to bake with room temperature eggs.
      Let me know if you have other problems.

  6. if recipe calls for shortening, can i use butter

    1. It depends on the recipe, most of the time yes, the flavor may be different, but butter will work. Pie crust though, using shortening is best.

  7. have a cake recipie that calls for zweibach which use to be cookies fed to infants, and apparently discontinued. What is a good substitute??

    1. Hi there, you might try a butter or shortbread cookie, that might work.

  8. Denise Kellum says:

    When I bake a layer cake, I use (2) 9″ Wilton pans. Love them. But lately when I take my pans out of the oven, both layers are one sided. What causes this? Never had this to happen before and now it is happening regularly. Help.

    1. Hi Denise, I’m not sure I understand what you mean by one sided. Do you mean they are baking uneven?

  9. I currently bake “no knead” breads, which with the recipes I have all end up as roundish artisan style. I am using cast iron double dutch oven at 500 deg.F for 40 min. Each uses three cups of flour, and I was wondering how large of a loaf pan would I need to accomodate this much dough? A standard pan seems too small and I would like to have a more square loaf for sandwhiches.

  10. Llela Barber-Pitts says:

    Recently i made fruit tarts, but to my dismay most of them broke apart and got stuck in the tart tins. I sprayed baking spray on them, but they still stuck. any secrets to get them out whole without breaking?

    1. Hi there, that’s great question! I think it probably could be 2 different things – 1: the type of crust you used or the ingredients in the crust {like butter} and 2: the type of tin you used, whether the sides were straight or fluted.
      Can you tell me what kind of crust you used?

  11. I desperately need your help. I have a cheesecake that I bake in a 10″ pan at 500º for 12 minutes. I then reduce the oven to 200º and bake it for an additional hour. I would like to make individual cheesecakes, about 2″ x 1 1/2″ high. How would i adjust the cooking time?

    Please respond asap as I am need to bake this on Tuesday. Thanks.

  12. One of your recipes calls for a sleeve of graham crackers. I couldn’t find regular graham crackers but found a box of graham cracker crumbs. How much crumbs equal a sleeve of graham crackers? THANKS

    1. Hmm…I think it depends. Can you tell me which recipe of mine said a sleeve? You should of also said how many cups. If it didn’t, I need to fix it 🙂

  13. If I could be so bold as to add something?…

    Definitely DO NOT melt butter if asked for softened. If you melt it, throw it out and start again.

    Room temperature eggs and room temperature milk are best for cake / cupcakes. By being warm, they automatically begin the cooking process before your batter reaches the oven. By using these ingredients at room temperature (or even slightly warmer) allows for even rising to the cakes. Ever had those cupcakes that peak in the middle and then crack??? Basically your are pre-heating your batter at the same time your are pre-heating your oven. Try sitting your eggs in some warm water before using. Microwave your milk to a temperature that you would be happy to give to a baby. Hope this is of some help?

  14. Thanks so much for answering my questions….
    (love your blog, so much great information)

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