There was a time in my life when I was the textbook definition of a hot mess in the kitchen (at home and professionally). Early on in my career, it was so easy for me to feel flustered and overwhelmed, especially whenever I was making something for the first time. I was fortunate to work with some amazing chefs throughout my career but working in a high-paced, high-stress, thrilling environment didn’t allow for bigger picture thinking.
Skill, technique, and actual hands-on baking are only part of the equation for success in the kitchen. The rest of the formula lies in mindset, planning, and work ethic. I’ve learned the hard way that there is plenty of time to stop, take a deep breath, and use my brain.
After years of running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I’ve come up with 3 simple ways to improve your baking that don’t require any special skills:
An organized space = an organized mind. If you can keep your space organized, you will have less stress and be able to focus on the actual recipe you are making.
If you have ever made a recipe with time-sensitive steps, you have probably felt the stress of “where did I put that bowl?” or “I forgot to line my pan with parchment” or “where did I put the recipe?!”. I’ve been there.
I recommend keeping your workstation as organized as possible.
Before you even start, stop and think about the steps you need to take. Gather the tools and ingredients you need for the recipe. After weighing your ingredients, put away anything you no longer need to have out.
Take the time to think through each step and plan for your downtime. If you know you need to cream your butter and sugar for 5 minutes, maybe you could line your pan with parchment while you wait, or sift your flour, OR make yourself a margarita.
Smarter not harder is the goal here.
Clean as you go.
Cleaning as you go is truly a game-changer. My life coach is always encouraging me to “chunk down” any big task into smaller, more actionable steps. I just think this philosophy is brilliant and can be applied to literally any task and it works wonders with staying organized and making cleanup speedy.
I recommend starting with a clean workspace. Remember, a clean and organized space allows your mind to focus on the task at hand it also just feels good to have a clean slate to work with.
I always keep a damp towel and a dry towel folded neatly near my workstation. The damp towel is for wiping up any messes and the dry towel for drying hands or the work surface.
I also like to wash my dishes as I go. Again, chunking down an arduous task into small pieces. There's nothing I hate more than a giant pile of dishes at the end of a baking project. I make use of any downtime by running through a few items to keep my little kitchen tidy and mess/stress-free.
Write everything down.
If you spend any amount of time around me, you will most likely hear me preach this topic. I spent my early years adopting the cocky attitude that I didn’t need to write down the details to recipes. One time I even said, “I don’t need to write down the method, I make this every day, there is NO WAY I will ever forget!” Fast forward to today>>> I DON’T REMEMBER.
My solution: I keep a separate little notebook just for testing out recipes I’ve never made before, or recipes I’ve made, but want to make tweaks to. I write EVERYTHING down. The method, the recipe, the changes I make, whether or not I liked the results. Then, I transfer it to my actual recipe book/database if it’s a keeper.
Find a method that works for you, and make sure to keep track of recipes and any details that you absolutely don’t want to forget in the future.
You do not need to work at an extremely fast pace or have the stamina of a 20-year-old line cook to be successful with your baking. Slow, steady, intentional actions are a much more efficient way of leveling up. And don’t sweat the mistakes that come (because they will come), instead, take note of what went wrong, salvage what you can, and remember: mindset is half the battle, friend.
Save this post for a rainy day, or share it with a friend who might need some encouragement.
Baking using any of these tips? Snap a photo and use the hashtag #thinklikeabaker on Instagram and Facebook so the community can follow along and cheer you on.
I know baking by yourself at home can be overwhelming and lonely, and that is why I'm so excited to start sharing what I know with you! Let's get started with this free Flaky Pie Crust Guide...