Ron Ben-Israel's 5 Commandments of Baking: The Basic Do's and Don'ts

We asked baking expert and Sweet Genius host Ron Ben-Israel for his five hard-and-fast rules for whipping up sweet treats this holiday season.
Ron Ben-Israel

Sweet Genius Host Chef Ron Ben-Israel as seen on Food Network's Sweet Genius, Season 2

Photo by: David Lang ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

David Lang, 2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Sweet Genius Host Chef Ron Ben-Israel as seen on Food Network's Sweet Genius, Season 2

1. Check your sources. Just because it's posted online, that doesn't necessarily mean it's accurate. Take the time to be selective with your recipes, and you'll be less likely to end up with disastrous results. “My favorite chef is Alton,” Ron says. “I love him from beginning to end, and I trust his recipes.”

2. Know thy recipe. Following a savory recipe is different from following a baking one: Substitutions are easy and common, while making unknown substitutions in a baking recipe can result in catastrophe. “Carefully read the list of ingredients. You can’t just substitute different flours. The dessert won’t work,” Ron says. To start, he recommends making sure you have all the ingredients on hand, and you've gone over the recipe step-by-step. “Cake flour is different than bread flour, and you need the right pan for the job,” he adds.

3. Measure ingredients smartly. Invest in an accurate digital scale. Professional bakers often measure by weight, but sometimes you’ll get both weight and volume measurements. Ron's tip: Make sure to press down ingredients like packed brown sugar, and always weigh your ingredients for accuracy.

4. You shall follow the recipe. Sure, if you have plenty of extra time, approach the recipe as a free-for-all and make as many variations as you’d like. If you want a successful dessert when you’re pressed for time, however, follow the recipe exactly because it has most likely already been tested multiple times by professionals.

5. Make it in advance. “When guests arrive, I like to spend time with them,” Ron says. Overall, don’t spend too much time in the kitchen—and not just for dessert, but the whole dinner! Don’t pick a recipe that requires lots of assembly while you have guests to enjoy.

Check out Sweet Genius for more tips from Ron.

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