We Learned 5 Baking Tricks from a Single Recipe

These smart tips are essential for so many baking projects.

June 01, 2020

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Have you been experiencing banana bread fatigue lately? Absolutely no judgement here — we have been, too. Whether you’ve been baking a lot of it or you’ve just been eating it every other weekend, chances are you might need a break from the standard loaf pan version. Thankfully, the Food Network Kitchen app has lots of new ways to take our banana bread craving in a new direction, or a new dish altogether.

Samantha Seneviratne’s Banana Bread Scones class is a great place to start. Not only will you have a tray of freshly baked banana and chocolate-studded scones in less than an hour, the class is filled with ingenious tips and tricks bakers of all skill levels can benefit from. Keep reading to find out more.

Naked is Always Best — When It Comes to Hazelnuts, That Is!

Nut lovers already know that there’s nothing quite like the rich and buttery taste of a freshly-roasted hazelnut. Though you can easily buy them with the skins already removed, roasting hazelnuts in the oven first with their skins still on gives them much more flavor and a nice crunchy texture. If you've never removed the skin from a hazelnut before, give Samantha’s “wiggle” method a try. All you need to do is transfer your hazelnuts to the center of a tea towel, bundle it into a ball and wiggle your palm back and forth across the bottom. “It’s pretty fun and you can feel they sort of rub against each other and take the skins off for you. It makes the job really easy,” Samantha says.

If it takes you more than one go-around, fret not: “Sometimes it takes a couple tries to get them all clean, but it’s worth it,” she adds.

The Colder Your Butter, the Better

Whether you’ve made scones from scratch before or you’ve just eaten your fair share of them, you probably already know that butter is the most important ingredient. Not only does help give your scones their signature crumbly texture, it’s also responsible for their fluffiness. To get the most out of your butter, Samantha suggests keeping it in the refrigerator up until the exact moment you add it in with your other dry ingredients. “It’s really important that your butter be nice and cold. You do not want your butter to melt into your mixture. You want it to stay piecey so that you have nice little pockets that basically melt in the oven and create steam and keep your scones fluffy and flakey,” she says.

A Serrated Knife Is a Must

While you don't need to stress about the uniformity of your knife cuts when baking as much as you might during other genres of cooking, the knife you are using to chop up all of your ingredients still matters. When it comes to chopping nuts and chocolate in particular, Samantha guarantees that using a serrated knife makes all the difference: “Somehow, it just grips onto the food and it doesn’t fly around when you’re trying to chop it."

All Hail the Scoop-and-Sweep Method

If you’ve been watching other classes on the Food Network Kitchen app, you’ve probably heard all about the scoop-and-sweep method already. If you need a reminder, it’s basically when you add or "scoop" flour into your measuring cup with a spoon instead of dipping the cup directly into your flour canister or bag. When you use your measuring cup to get flour directly from the bag, you run the risk of using more than the called for measurement because this packs the flour into the cup. When it comes to baking scones, extra flour can be disastrous: “If you end up with extra flour in your baked goods, they certainly are going to turn out drier, so you don’t want to do that,” Samantha cautions.

Who Needs Glaze or Icing When You've Got Heavy Cream and Sanding Sugar?

Anyone who has ever eaten an ice cream sundae or cupcake knows that sometimes what you put on top of your baked goods is just as delicious as what's inside them. Same goes for scones. Though most people use a simple eggwash, Samantha uses a combination of heavy cream and coarse brown sanding sugar to give the top of her scones a beautiful golden-brown finish. "The sugar on the top is the crowning glory — it's all crunchy and caramelized and really, really good," Samantha says before taking a big bite.

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