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8 Baking Mistakes: How to Avoid and Fix Them — Advice from the Spring Baking Championship Judges

We asked the judges what some of the biggest baking mistakes are, and how they can be avoided and/or remedied the next time.
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Baking with the Wrong-Size Tin

"Always use the right-sized tin," says Lorraine Pascale. Substituting a different pan size for the one the recipe calls for may cause your cake to be overbaked or underbaked.

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Photo: Tham Kee Chuan ©

Using Ingredients That Are Out of Date

"Check dates on things like yeast, baking powder, baking soda," says Lorraine. You never want to go through the experience of putting in all the effort for a recipe just to have it not rise.

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Photo: Daniel Jedzura ©

Having Irregular Oven Temperatures

"Ovens vary a lot," Lorraine points out. "It is good to test your oven and see where the hot spots are in it." Here's her way to do just that: "Put four pieces of bread on a baking sheet and pop [them] in the oven at 400 degrees F. Pull it out after 7 or so minutes and you can see if your oven bakes evenly or not, as some pieces of toast will be more cooked than others."

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Photo: Aleksandar Nakic

Ignoring Words or Directions That You Don't Understand in Recipes

"Our brains say, 'Oh, you don't understand that, so it must not be important,'" says Duff of our inclination to glaze over directions in a recipe. He explains why details are important: "As a baking book author, I don't ever write instructions that don't need to be there. Take the time to look up anything you do not recognize. Those little details can make or break a finished product."

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