6 Things Everyone Should Know How to Bake

Watching Top Chef contestants sweat through dessert courses have proved that chefs are either firmly in the savory camp or die-hard into pastry. However, for the casual home cook, there need not be an unsurpassable divide. Sure, you might prefer one type of cooking over the other, but it really pays to be able to make a couple basic baked goods that you no longer have to splurge on while at the grocery store or as a treat in a restaurant. Here’s six baking recipes that will infinitely expand your repertoire in the kitchen…

6) Biscuits

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Not everyone has the patience to bake fresh bread. It’s definitely a pain to let your yeast starter bubble and rise like some doughy science experiment in the middle of your kitchen. Biscuits however, are pretty much straight forward. With a little more technique and butter, you can make super flakey, delicious biscuits that will put every fried chicken joint to shame. But if you’re looking for a basic recipe utilizing the least amount of ingredients, while still being moist and flakey, this SouthernLiving quick biscuits recipe will do the trick.

Knowing how to make your own biscuits mean you’ll always have a side for homemade fried chicken dinners as well as all your summer barbecues.  You can also make your own breakfast sandwiches and use it to serve as an accompaniment with tea or coffee, topped with knob of butter or slathered with your favorite jam.

5) Brownies

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We’re just as much a fan of box brownies as the next person, but when you start stocking flour and other baking materials, you start to realize that the $2.50 you spent on the Ghirardelli brownie mix comes down to like $0.78 from your own pantry. Besides when you do it yourself, you can totally make them according to your own tastes. Do you like brownies the consistency of cake or fudge? With almonds or chocolate chips? However you like them, use this essential “Brooke’s Best Bombshell Brownies” recipe to start.

4) Chocolate Chip Muffins

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No matter how much we want to, we can’t eat cake for breakfast and if we do, people tend to look at us funny. But muffins! Muffins are like handheld breakfast/brunch/afternoon cakes. Perfect for a Sunday Brunch treat, Laura Vitale’s chocolate chip muffin recipe guarantees moist, warm, gooey delights. Be careful though because her recipe does not skimp on the chocolate!

3) Coffee Cake

Source: SouthernLiving.com, Photo by Becky Luigart-Stayner

Whether you’re riding the tea trend or are a die-hard coffee fanatic, having a slice of something sweet that’s the perfect accompaniment to your beverage never gets old. Plus, you could legitimately have this cake for breakfast and no one would think twice! Whether you like the look of the coffee pound cake pictured above, want to go the sugar-pecan route, or want to whip up an easy, overnight coffee crumble, SouthernLiving has a list of the very best coffee cakes for you to try your hand at.

2) Salmon en Croûte

Your oven isn’t just for sweet treats. Can you pop a salmon fillet in the oven and bake it with butter and lemon? Yes. Will it have the same wow factor as serving a golden pastry parcel that reveals a beautiful potion of salmon when your guests’ knives crunch through the crust? Nope. That’s why putting the little extra effort to do Chef Ramsay’s family favorite, salmon en croûte is the way to go when upping your oven skills.

1) Pie Crust

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Last, but certainly not least, what every amateur baker needs to be able to do is pie crust. Pie crust opens up a whole world of savory meals, like chicken pot pie, to simple desserts, like fruit tarts. You can make several portions of it beforehand, wrap it up, and toss it in the freezer to be pulled out when you’ve run out of dinner ideas or need to bring something in to the office pot luck party.

Watch how the master of French techniques, Jaques Pépin, does not only pie crusts, but also its sweet and puff pastry varieties as well. Pépin was nice enough to do this demonstration for FoodandWine.com, but if you want to see how to do everything and everything under the sun from pie crusts to the master sauces, Jaques Pépin’s New Complete Techniques is a must have for all aspiring home chefs.

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