How to Fix 17 Basic Cooking Mistakes
Why it’s bad: It results in dense cakes and breads. At room temperature, eggs, butter, and liquids such as milk bond and form an emulsion that traps air. During baking, the air expands, leavening the batter or dough and producing a light and airy baked good. Cold ingredients, on the other hand, don’t incorporate evenly to bond.
Do this instead: Take eggs, butter, and any other dairy products out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour before baking. Short on time? Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces and microwave them in 10-second intervals, checking in between, until they’re just malleable. Place cold eggs in a bowl of warm water for 15 minutes. “Don’t use hot water or leave the eggs on top of a hot oven,” says Hedy Goldsmith, the executive pastry chef at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink, in Miami. “It will heat them unevenly, and the whites will start to set.” (Exception to this rule: Piecrust and pastry recipes often call for cold butter, which creates flaky layers.)