A Little Advice on Making Merry in the Kitchen from One of the Most Celebrated Cooks in the World
Buddy Valastro knows a thing or two about baking. He has, after all, made some of the world’s most famous cakes let alone some of the largest and well, oddest. In town last week for the unveiling of his Smart-car-sized cake to promote the latest opening of Central Indiana’s GetGo Café + Market and its fuelperks+ loyalty rewards program, Valastro—better known as The Cake Boss—took a few minutes to share some holiday baking tips, exclusively with Edible Indy and our readers. Happy baking everyone—and happy holidays too!
1. Know your oven temperature
Baking in a home oven isn’t as easy as baking in a commercial one—which is why you need to check your oven’s temperature. “Use an oven thermometer to check the accuracy of your oven at 350 degrees,” says The Boss. “Place the thermometer on the center rack and watch it.” Edible Tip: You can spend upwards of $25 for an oven thermometer, but the $4.70 Cooper Atkins 24HP is reliable and accurate and can be found in the home kitchens of many professional bakers—a sound investment for yours too!
2. Raise, or lower, baking temperature depending on desired outcome
“If your cake comes out too flat, try lowering the temperature by 25 degrees,” says The Boss. Likewise, if you want it to crest, raise it 25 degrees—BUT pay attention to baking times as you might have to adjust those as well. Edible Tip: If your recipe says to cook cupcakes at 350 degrees for 20 minutes but they come out flat try baking them at 325 degrees for 25 minutes.
3. Bake on the center rack
Whether you’re baking cookies, cake, muffins, bread—or anything for that matter—you should always bake on the center rack. “Use the center rack,” says The Boss, “whether your oven’s convection or otherwise. Always use the center rack. Always.”
4. Freeze thin sheet cakes to make the perfect holiday yule log
Bake vanilla sheet cakes on parchment paper to be ¼ inch thick when done. “Grease the pan before lining it with parchment paper,” recommends The Boss. That way, he explains, it will stay in place when you add the batter. Freeze cake(s) in parchment paper until ready to use. Thaw, sprinkle with crushed peppermint sticks then “peel” the paper as you start to tightly roll the cake into a log shape. Cover with chocolate icing or ganache and you have an impressive yule log to share with your guests. Enjoy!
5. Make your Christmas cookie dough in September
“Frozen cookie dough has a shelf life of two to four months,” says The Boss, which makes them one of the easiest and time-friendly items to bake for the holidays. Shape cookie dough into balls, put them on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen, store in an airtight container. When you’re ready to bake, thaw them to room temperature and bake as directed.