5 Things We Learned About Baking (and Life!) from Meghan Rienks

Food Network Kitchen's new series with Tastemade is chock full of good advice.

November 19, 2020

Host Meghan Rienks sitting on the floor, she has a surprise look on her face, holding her confetti cake in the left hand, while her chocolate cake, and bun cake is on the left, wearing her pink top and jeans, as seen on Food Network’s Just Ask The Baker, Season 1 (Horizontal)

Photo by: Fluid Frame, Tastemade

Fluid Frame, Tastemade

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YouTube star Meghan Rienks is an expert at baking and giving advice. That’s why she’s the perfect host for the new series from Tastemade on Food Network Kitchen show, Just Ask the Baker, in which she bakes up a storm and answers questions about life’s stickiest situations. Naturally, when the five first episodes dropped, we binged them immediately and laughed, smiled and walked away a little bit wiser. Here are a few things we learned.

This image has been distributed to our partners.

Photo by: Fluid Frame, Tastemade

Fluid Frame, Tastemade

1. How to Prevent Cookie Dough from Spreading (and Lend Money to Family)

Whether you’re baking chocolate chip cookies or pretty-as-can-be Swirl Shortbread Cookie Sandwiches with Raspberry Filling like Meghan, it totally sucks when they lose their shape in the oven. In the episode Expectation Cookies, Meghan teaches us a quick fix: before baking off the next tray, take a step back and chill the cookies in the fridge. The butter will solidify, which in turn will help the cookies hold their shape. While cookie making, Meghan gives advice to a viewer who’s brother asked for money: first, take a step back. Then think about why he needs the money: does he just want to cop some dough for the heck of it, or is he in real need? That’ll inform your decision.

This image has been distributed to our partners.

Photo by: Fluid Frame, Tastemade

Fluid Frame, Tastemade

2. A Hack for Frosting Beautiful Cakes (and Relieving Stress)

An important part of frosting layer cakes? Making sure they’re structurally sound. Meghan has a great hack for making sure your frosting is level so those layers don’t slide around. In the episode Anxiety Cakes, she shows us how to pipe the frosting onto a cake using a large flower or star tip, then smooth out the rosettes with a small offset spatula into perfect layers. Repetitive actions like piping (or marbling two colors of cake batter together) are a relaxing way to step back from busy everyday life if sitting on the couch and doing nothing gives you anxiety. Voila: gorgeous cakes and stress relief all rolled up into one.

This image has been distributed to our partners.

Photo by: Fluid Frame, Tastemade

Fluid Frame, Tastemade

3. The Easiest Way to Separate Eggs (and Handle Difficult Situations with Friends)

When separating eggs in order to whip the whites into peaks, you can’t get a single drop of egg yolk in the egg white. Otherwise, the egg whites won’t form peaks. Meghan teaches us an extra-safe way to separate eggs during the episode Sensitive Subject Meringue. You’ll crack the egg over your open palm, cradling the egg yolk gently in your hand while letting the egg white stream through your fingers into the bowl below. Likewise, if you’re in a difficult spot with a friend, sometimes it’s best for your friendship to give them some breathing room … to separate from them and spend some time with other friends. Take time to evaluate whether they’re a positive, constructive influence in your life (or whether they’re like that egg yolk, wearing your gorgeous peaks down).

Just Ask the Baker

Just Ask the Baker

Photo by: Fluid Frame, Tastemade

Fluid Frame, Tastemade

4. How to Make Vibrant Natural Food Coloring (and Friends)

If you need red food coloring, surprise, pomegranate juice is your new best friend. You might be wondering: "but isn’t it too liquid-y?" During the episode Friendzone Choux, Meghan shows us that all we have to do is change our perspective. Simmer that pomegranate juice, and it’ll reduce down into a ruby-red syrup that also imparts lovely pomegranate flavor to whatever you use it in (in this case, a glaze for crullers). Likewise, when you’re trying to make new friends, it’s helpful to change your perspective. Don’t put so much pressure on "making friends." Instead, do something you really like, whether it’s bowling or a baking class. You’ll meet some friends along the way.

This image has been distributed to our partners.

Photo by: Fluid Frame, Tastemade

Fluid Frame, Tastemade

5. A Smart Strategy to Tackle Complicated Recipes (and Feel Like an "Adult")

Some recipes might look long and complicated. Take the Brioche Bread Pudding with White Chocolate and Cardamom that Meghan makes during the episode Adulting Bread: it has fifteen whole steps. Generally, breadmaking is a multi-step endeavor. But if you take each step one at a time (and maybe some naps while the bread is proofing), the recipe will fly by and before you know it, you’ll have a warm, tasty creation in front of you. Breadmaking is a little bit like growing up: it feels like a long process. It might feel like you’ll never have all the answers, but if you break what you know down by life-stage, you’ll realize that slowly but surely, you’re adulting. When you’re 18, it might just be voting. When you’re 25, it could be renting cars. And when you’re older, it’s getting a house, paying bills and making that bread.

Excited to watch? Here's the trailer for an extra sneak peek — watch full episodes on the Food Network Kitchen app!

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