If there’s one thing all foodies love, it’s baking. From chocolate cake to lemon tarts, creating sweet pastries can be incredibly enjoyable. However, making pastries isn’t very easy and it can take some time going from a beginner to an expert.
Chocolate mousse, strawberry tarts, or even mille-feuille can be considered basic recipes for some pastry chefs and mastery of a whisk is expected. Pastry chefs and bakers need to know how to use these tools to make a pièce montée, tartlets, or danishes.
Here's a beginner’s guide to pastries and baking, some useful recipes, the most useful utensils, and some advice for how to quickly bake some tasty treats.
The Best Baking Recipes for Beginners
To get started with baking, you’ll need to keep things simple. You’ll need to follow the recipes to the letter to make sure that you get it right.
Here are some recipes for beginners.
The pound cake is one of the simplest baking recipes around. You just need to take equal quantities of eggs, butter, sugar, and flour, usually a pound of each, hence the name. Here are the four ingredients you’ll need:
- 3 eggs.
- The same weight in butter.
- The same weight in sugar.
- The same weight in flour.
- A pinch of salt.
- Vanilla extract.
- The zest of 1 lemon.
- This recipe is great for your first foray into the world of baking.
A chocolate mousse is a great way to get started with baking. You need to pay particular attention to each of the steps to get it right, though. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- 3 eggs.
- 100 grams of dark chocolate or milk chocolate.
- 1 sachet of vanilla sugar.
Start by separating the egg-whites from the yolks while melting the chocolate in a bain-marie. Then mix the egg yolks and sugar into the chocolate off the heat. Beat the egg whites and then delicately add it to the chocolate mix. Pour the mix into glasses and leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Voila!
You need at least two hours to make a fruit jam. This isn’t a complicated recipe if you follow the instructions. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- 1.5kg of fruit
- 1.5kg of sugar
- 1 sachet of gelatine
You can choose the fruit you like from apricot to mango or even citrus fruits or rhubarb. Start by blending the fruit and mixing in the sugar. Then mix the gelatine into two tablespoons of sugar. Boil the fruit mixture and after three minutes, add the gelatine-sugar mixture.
Then fill the pots and close them immediately. Let them sit for two days before you taste it.
Discover more of the best baking recipes for beginners.
What Equipment do You Need for Baking?
When you first start baking, there are a few tools and utensils that will help an awful lot. There are many useful baking utensils but some can be difficult for beginners to use. Here are some of the most useful tools for any aspiring baker.
Basic Baking Tools
Any good baker should have the following utensils: knives, spoons, spatulas, and whisks. Similarly, cake tins, pans, and moulds.
To make better pastries, you’ll want quality equipment. A food processor can help but it isn’t essential.
Tools Specific to Baking
There are also specialist tools that you can use when baking. For example, a silicone spatula or a pastry bag, which is a cone-shaped bag which is used for piping icing or whipped cream.
You might also want an electronic scale as you’ll usually need to weigh your ingredients. You can also get cookie cutters or a pastry brush for basting your pastries with egg yolks, for example.
Finally, you might also want to get a mixer, food thermometer, or an ice-cream maker. If you want to caramelise your creations, you might also want a blowtorch.
Learn more about what equipment you'll need for baking.
Advice for Learning to Bake
Baking can feel like an uphill struggle for those just starting, especially if you’ve never cooked before. Fortunately for you, we’ve got some advice.
Firstly, to become a good baker, you need to be passionate about it. It might seem silly, but if you don’t love what you’re doing, you’ll never become any good at it. You can do baking workshops for fun and learn while enjoying yourself.
You won’t need a cooking qualification, either. Just learn as you go. You can start baking and learning recipes left, right, and centre. Practice is key to success whether you’re making pies or biscuits.
You should practise daily if you want to become a pastry chef but you might also want proper training. In this case, there are courses you can do. Ideally, you want to get into baking from a young age.
The key to making pastries and baking is to pay attention to detail. Decent equipment will also help.
Check out our best tips for becoming a better baker.
Common Baking Ingredients
If there’s one thing that bakers can’t do without, it’s ingredients. While pralines, pear, coconut, or cocoa are all popular ingredients, there are a few that are essential for baking.
Here are the ingredients that are found in all baking.
Flour is a staple of baking. You’ll find it in most recipes including cakes and muffins. It can be made from wheat, chestnut, or oats, for example.
A lot of baking involves sweet foods so it’s hardly surprising that you’ll find sugar in almost every recipe. While there are several types of sugar, some recipes can also use replacements like honey.
When we talk about fats in baking, it’s usually from butter and most pastries and cakes will have a source of fat. It’s often used in preparing pastry. Pastry chefs tend to also spray the moulds with oil or fat.
Find out more about the ingredients you'll need for baking.
Now that you know a bit more about baking, you can start preheating your oven. To learn more about how to improve your bakes, check out our other articles!
If you're looking for help with chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, scones, shortbread, or chewy chocolate brownies, you can also get help with your baking from one of the many talented tutors on Superprof.
There are three main types of tutorial available and each comes with a series of pros and cons and it'll be up to you to decide which type works best for your preferred learning style, budget, and personality.
Let's start with the type of tutorial that's usually the cheapest, group tutorials. In these tutorials, you'll be joined by several other students and you'll all be being taught how to bake at the same time. Since there are several of you, that means that you don't usually have to pay as much as everyone's paying for the tutor's time. However, this also means that the lessons won't be adapted or tailored to just you and you won't get as much of a say in what you get to bake and what you get to learn.
Face-to-face tutorials are great for those who have specific goals in mind and want a course or lessons that are tailored just to them. You'll be the only student attending the lesson and this means that you can talk to your tutor about what and how you want to learn. Of course, adapting each lesson to you and what you want to learn means that the tutor will have to plan a lot more outside of the session making this bespoke service more costly than group tutorials. You can often get the tutor to come to you and teach you from the comfort of your own home, too!
Finally, thanks to the internet, you can also be taught remotely with online tutorials. By using a computer, tablet, or smartphone, you can get a tutor from anywhere in the world to teach you at any time of the day! Since the tutor doesn't have to travel and can schedule more tutorials each week as a result, they tend to charge less per hour than face-to-face tutorials. Similarly, if you want to learn a type of baking from a specific country, you can get a specialist from that particular country.
While this may seem like a lot to consider before you start baking, remember that many of the tutors on Superprof offer free tutoring for the first hour. Use this time to discuss what and how you'd like to learn, get to know each potential private tutor, and see if you get along. After all, if you don't get along with your private tutor, it'll be much harder to learn anything from them.