Tricks of the trade

Pooja Dhingra's tips to help you become a better baker

* Don’t keep opening the oven door! Opening it for 30 seconds can drop the temperature drastically. Be patient.

* Adding flavour to the fat helps distribute it better. If a recipe calls for vanilla, add it to the butter to get a more intense flavour.

* Roasting enhances the flavour of nuts.

* Use a clean bowl to beat egg whites. Any traces of yolk in the whites and you won’t

be able to whisk them stiff.

* Wrapping tar/cookie dough in plastic wrap and refrigerating it for a minimum of 2 hours helps moisturize to distribute evenly.

* Store baking powder or soda in an airtight container in a dry place to keep it potent.

* Chocolate needs a lot of love and has to be stored correctly. if it is kept in very hot temperatures for a long time, it blooms—fat and cocoa butter float to the top.

* Stir chocolate constantly while melting to keep the temperature even.

* Always read the recipe thoroughly before starting.

* Measure all your ingredients and lay them out before you.

* Once you’re a bit comfortable with a base recipe, try and experiment with flavours.

Excerpted with permission from Pooja Dhingra’s book The Big Book of Treats, Penguin India.