5 things to remember if you want to start baking

Image – CC0 License

Starting on the journey to becoming a parent means acquiring a bunch of new skills, but it seems that we can all feel that we want to be homely and caring a bit more than we are. So, what better way to do this than by learning how to bake! But if you are a total beginner, what does it really take? 

Start With an Easy Recipe

In essence, baking is about being able to follow a recipe. But it’s about making sure that you gradually build up your skill. And one of the best ways to do it is to pick a recipe that only has a handful of ingredients. You could always go for muffins but this silky smooth Italian meringue buttercream recipe can also add a bit of extra flavour to the muffins. 

Ensuring You Have the Ingredients (and Checking Again!)

It’s amazing how many people dive into baking without double-checking the recipe and making sure they have all the ingredients. The best thing for anybody to do on their baking journey is to make sure you have absolutely everything. This means you will have the desired end result, and you won’t lose your confidence. At this point, you should avoid substituting any ingredients, for example, if you are trying to bake gluten-free or use an egg-free recipe.

Understanding Your Oven

This is more important than you think. Not every oven is created equally, but it’s also crucial to know what works best in certain parts of your oven. For example, baking cakes will work with the lower rod or the middle rack, but if you’re making pizza or bread, you can use the top and the bottom. However, your oven may bake absolutely fine wherever you place the item. But this goes back to the recipe: if it tells you to allow the oven to preheat, preheat it! Always follow the recipe to the letter. 

Knowing When Your Cake Is Done

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to keep opening the oven door. But if you are approaching the end of the baking time, this is where you can do the toothpick test. If the toothpick comes out wet, you need to allow the cake another ten minutes. Or if a couple of moist crumbs stick to it, you will need to take the cake out right away.

Let Your Cake Cool Down

You may be proud of your efforts, and you want to get to decorating right away, but when you take the cake out of the oven, you’ve got to let it cool for at least 20 minutes. Because if you slice the cake while it is still warm, the cake will crumble, and if you decide to decorate, this could result in a puddly mess. Always wait for it to cool completely.

A lot of people don’t have the patience for baking, but if you are determined to be that parent who wants the house to smell of baked goods all the time, start simple and it will be an amazing journey!

** This was a contributed post.

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winter succulents : how to care

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 presetBelow is a guide on how to care for your plants during the winter months.

Unless you are lucky enough to live in a location that does not fall below freezing during the winter, many of the most popular and beautiful succulents will need to be brought indoors for the winter. A greenhouse is ideal, but few gardeners have this luxury. Fortunately, most succulents can easily be over wintered indoors.

Succulents encompass a huge assortment of different plants, some of which have very specific needs. However, the tips outlined below will keep most of the commonly grown succulents alive through the winter.

Succulents often have a habit of becoming stretched out and leggy when kept indoors, resulting in weak and ugly plants by spring time. This can be minimized by taking into consideration three important factors when caring for succulents indoors during the winter: light, water, and temperature.

Light is Critical

The biggest factor in keeping succulents alive over winter is light. Too little light will cause succulents to stretch in an effort to get closer to the light source. Succulents, in general, thrive in full sun. This is difficult to provide indoors, but give them as much direct sunlight as possible. A south facing window is best, but east or west windows will work.

Fluorescent lights can be used, if natural light is insufficient. It is important that the plants be kept within 1 to 2 inches of the bulbs. Fluorescent light becomes practically useless to plants at more than 3 inches from the bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are too hot and give off the wrong spectrum of light for plant growth.

Succulents Need Little Water During the Winter

Succulents are always better off too dry, than too wet. This is especially true during the winter when the plants are receiving less than ideal light and cooler than normal temperatures. Keep your succulents on the dry side during the winter. Water just enough to keep the plants from shriveling. In a cool room, you may only need to water once every 10 to 14 days.

Be especially careful to keep the plant itself dry, especially rosette plants like Echeverias. Water will set in the center of the rosette and rot will quickly turn the plant to mush. Remember, the quickest way to kill a succulent is to keep it wet!

Cool Temperatures are Good

Most succulents do not need to be kept especially warm during the winter. The important thing is to not allow them to freeze. 45°F to 55°F is perfect. Keeping the plants cool will keep them in a semi dormant state. A warm location encourages the plants to grow and with the lower light intensity indoors during the winter, results in leggy plants. 

No Fertilizer Needed

Succulents do not need any fertilizer during the fall and winter. You want to keep the plants alive, not encourage them to grow.

These steps have worked very successful for me in over wintering Echeveria, tender Sedum, Aeonium, Agave, Aloe, Crassula, Graptoveria, Kalanchoe, Faucaria, Senecio, and others.

By keeping the plants bright, dry, and cool, they remain in a semi dormant state all winter, with minimal stretching. Once frost-free weather returns, the succulents can be returned outdoors for a summer of basking in the sun.

Words by Josh Spece. Photograph by Emory Ann Kurysh.

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  • Hello! My name is Emory. I am a wife, mother of four (three on earth in heaven). This is our life on the Canadian prairies.
    email: helloscarlettblog@outlook.com

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