Cold weather baking adjustments

 Butter

Baking in the summer heat has obvious challenges: butter melts, humidity ruins meringue, and frosting slumps. Wintertime baking also contains obstacles, even if they aren't quite as noticeable. Stella Parks (aka Bravetart) explains the problems you can encounter in a cold kitchen and the changes you should make for cold weather baking. 

Parks advises that just a few degrees in the ambient temperature can wreak havoc on ingredients. Some of the changes occur at a relatively balmy 68 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, says Parks, "pie and cookie doughs can end up dry and crumbly, layer cakes can dome and turn out riddled with tunnels and holes, buttercreams can curdle, and breads can refuse to rise."

The best way to circumvent these potential issues is not to just turn up the thermostat before baking. Although the kitchen temperature might come up to 72 degrees in short time, that bag of flour tucked in the pantry will take much longer to warm up. Instead of focusing on the room, Parks advises that you warm up the ingredients. Putting eggs in a bowl of warm water for several minutes is one trick she mentions. 

If your butter and sugar refuse to whip up into a light and creamy mixture, you can use a culinary torch to warm the sides of a stainless mixing bowl. (Be careful not to touch the right after you fire the torch at it so you don't burn yourself. Ask me how I know.) A less risky option is to use a hair dryer or set the bowl over a steaming water bath for a brief period. Read the full Serious Eats article to discover more tips on how to improve your baking when your kitchen gets chilly.

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