All my BEST Home Baking Resources to Help You Grow Your Baking Skills and Home Bakery Business

Hey there Home Baker!

🍩 Have you been longing to turn your passion for delicious home baking into an income?
🍩 Do you want step-by-step strategies that WORK to get you more customers and consistent orders in your home bakery?

🍩 Do you want to make a stable income from your baking so it can be your part-time or full-time career?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, I've got just the thing to help you on your baking journey 🙂

It’s a FREE Resource Library with tools, top-secret recipes from my home bakery, guides, templates, etc. specifically to help home bakers like you create their own successful Home Bakery Business!

Want to start a Home Bakery Business? Or maybe you have a business but you want more customers and consistent orders? Here's a free library full of resources, tips, tools, secret recipes and ideas to grow your Home Baking Business. Click through to access the free library! #homebakery #homebaking #bakingbusiness #cakebusiness

I share many resources, baking tips, and LEGIT recipes from my own Home Bakery Business on my blog, but there are some documents I don’t want to share with just anyone

I’d rather share them with a passionate home baker, like you, who will benefit MOST from these documents.

These documents are very exclusive – with all the secrets behind my 6+ years of full-time (fully booked) home baking.

These amazing resources are available to my “Bake Snobs” only. You cannot find them anywhere else.

 

In my Free Library, You Can Expect to Find:

🧁 Philosophy of Yum (my Home Bakery)’s TOP secret recipes.

Typically recipes that were baked literally 1000 times over and have generated thousands of dollars in sales over the last 7 years. I haven't shared these recipes with ANYONE before now.

All the recipes come with gluten-free variation instructions too!

🧁 Home Baking Business Resources to help you attract customers and repeat orders.

This includes free Workbooks, Templates, Guides, a Pricing Calculator, and Tips to make your Home Bakery Stand out in the crowd, get more consistent orders, and make a stable income for you.

🧁 You'll get tools and tips to help you become THE BEST HOME BAKER YOU CAN POSSIBLY BE.

If you use this info, I guarantee your business will grow like never before. It’s how I have grown into the baker I am today without ever paying to study desserts/pastry/baking/chef etc.

🧁 You'll also get resources to push you further as a Home Baker...

Like learning HOW to develop your own recipes. The aim is to equip you and give you tools so that you can explore and create your own UNIQUE bakes.

Want to start a Home Bakery Business? Or maybe you have a business but you want more customers and consistent orders? Here's a free library full of resources, tips, tools, secret recipes and ideas to grow your Home Baking Business. Click through to access the free library! #homebakery #homebaking #bakingbusiness #cakebusiness

Does this sound too good to be true? Is there a catch?

Nope, no catch. I remember how hard it was to start my Home Bakery with zero help and limited resources. I understand what you're going through and I want your journey to be easier and faster than mine.

👉 As I’ve said earlier, this Library full of Home Bakery resources are exclusively ONLY available to my “bake snobs”.

So… Are you ready to turn your passion for Home Baking into a successful business?

I'm SO excited to welcome you to the bake snob tribe! 🥳

Aurelia 🙂

How to Bake Perfect Cupcakes – Full Cupcake Troubleshooting

How to Bake Perfect Cupcakes – Full Cupcake Troubleshooting

How to Bake Perfect Cupcakes – Full Cupcake Troubleshooting

Cupcake Troubleshooting is a science – but it’s TOTALLY worth it to get stuck into the nitty-gritty details of baking perfect cupcakes!

Nothing is really quite as perfect as a perfect cupcake. Perfect cookies are cool… But there’s something about achieving perfection in something as delicate as a cupcake!

They tend to expose every shortcoming you may have in your baking skills… Which is why we end up covering them in too much frosting so that you cannot see the bad bake underneath.

Every home baker knows that chocolate, frosting, fresh berries and sprinkles cover a multitude of sins!

My journey with baking perfect cupcakes has been nearly as intense as perfecting the shiny brownie crust.

There are quite a few helpful articles on the internet, but it really came down to baking cupcakes 1000 times over to figure everything out.

Once again, supplying cupcakes to restaurants and coffee shops has given me ample opportunity to experiment! So grateful!

Here is a FULL cupcake troubleshooting guide that will help you to better understand your cupcake dramas.

 

Cupcake Troubleshooting (Common Cupcake Errors):

Discover the 15 mistakes that are ruining your cupcakes plus solutions to easily fix all of these problems. Learn how to Bake PERFECT cupcakes EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. #perfectcupcakes #cupcakes #cupcaketips #bakingtips

I have to start with a cupcake troubleshooting list before I share my extra methods. Oh gosh, the list is long and we all know how horribly disappointing these results are! 

I’ll add some of my own thoughts on each point and provide my favourite links that discuss these topics in more detail.

In my NEXT POST I share my more Advanced, Secret Tips I use to make my cupcakes exceptional, not just error-free!

 

Cupcake Troubleshooting Problem A: 

Cupcakes rise with a pointy top:

Image by The Cooks Academy Blog

1. Your Oven is too Hot

NEVER EVER bake your cupcakes on the thermofan or convection oven setting! EVER! The fan pushes hot air around in the oven, but makes the environment too intense for the batter to handle.

The outer edges of the cupcakes bake too fast, crisp up and stop rising very quickly while the center still keeps rising and ends up pushing through the top of your cupcakes – pointy!

The worst pointy cupcake episode I ever had was when I baked my cupcakes in a convection oven. I cried.

Another reason is over-beating your batter. Make sure you follow the instructions of your recipe. Make sure you added in all the ingredients as directed so that you don’t need to mix in an ingredient after the wet and dry ingredients have been combined.

Certain cake recipes do require extensive beating once all the ingredients have been combined. Just be sure to stick to the required beating time of your particular recipe.

Best link – “How to Get your Cupcakes Flat on Top” by HubPages.

 

Cupcake Troubleshooting Problem B: 

Cupcakes shrink/sink after baking:

Image by restingdough.com

Ah man this is a frustrating one!

Your cupcakes look perfect when they come out the oven (they seem slightly smaller, but that’s normal right?). Then, within the next 3 minutes, they shrink into puny little things and the texture is also way too dense. Why does this happen?!

It’s happened to me 7 times, for 6 different reasons:

2. The cupcakes were under baked:

Perfect cupcakes are obviously not over-baked, but it really is important for them to be baked properly. I’ve found that it’s quite ideal if one or 2 moist crumbs stick to the bottom of the skewer after testing. Then you have a perfect bake.

There should never be any traces of batter glued to the skewer. Also be sure to insert the skewer all the way to the bottom of the cupcakes, not just to the centre.

If the batter has not cooked and formed a proper structure, it will sag down (and in) once out of the oven.

3. Over-beating the batter:

Over-beating your batter overworks the gluten, making it tough and less likely to rise. Another analogy is that you are beating in too much air which will then escape once your cupcakes are out of the oven, causing them to shrink.

4. Self-raising flour fail / Old baking powder:

It is a handy ingredient yes, but not always so trustworthy in my experience. In summer I make the most amazing Passion Fruit & Raspberry cupcakes. They had come out perfectly every time before this one particular day.

I always bought the best Self-rising flour our country has to offer. This one day they shrunk into oblivion!

I made them again – same result. Then I made them yet again, but this time using flour and baking powder – perfect cupcakes!

Since that fateful day I’ve swapped self-rising flour for all-purpose flour and baking powder. Just use 2t baking powder per 160g (1 cup) Flour. Perfect!

5. Poor quality sugar:

I did not see this one coming. Sugar is sugar, right?

Turns out it’s not.

Our grocery store had this tower of sugar with bright red “sale” signs all over – of course I was going to buy it! It was a brand I had never seen or heard of before, but come on! It’s on SALE! I bought a few… Little did she know…

The poor cupcakes shrunk to about half their original size in just 2 minutes after exiting the oven. I made them again with a trusted brand of sugar – perfect cupcakes! We ended up using the poor quality sugar in our tea and coffee.

Perfect Cupcakes are a science! It really came down to baking cupcakes 1000 times over to figure everything out. Click through to learn how to bake PERFECT cupcakes every single time. #perfectcupcakes #cupcakes #cupcaketips #bakingtips

6. Too much sugar:

It was purely just a lack of focus that revealed this error. My mind was occupied with a lot of stuff…

Towards the end of mixing my batter I could not remember if I had added the sugar… It’s important to note that this recipe contained 3 different types of sugar. White, demerara and golden syrup, so I couldn’t just taste it and figure it out.

I wasn’t sure if I had added the white sugar. What to do?

So the cake would be a tad too sweet if I might be adding extra, big deal.

Shrinking cupcakes are a big deal though. And shrink they did. Be sure to focus, follow your recipe and don’t add extra sugar!

7. Too much egg:

Eggs vary in sizes. I generally get quite upset when a recipe doesn’t specify what size egg you should use.

Too much egg WILL shrink your cupcakes.

Once I added about 1,5 times the amount of egg the batter specified because I didn’t want to waste half an egg. In the end I wasted a batch of cupcakes instead!

I always WEIGH the amount of egg I use.

Crack it in a cup, whisk it lightly with a fork and then weigh the exact amount of grams you put in. If the cupcakes come out perfect, make a note on your recipe of the weight of egg you used, so that you’ll know how much to use when you make the recipe again.

If you feel the cake needed a bit more egg, make a note of that too. Weighing the amount of egg I use has made all the difference in my baking.

If this bit of effort gives me perfect cupcakes, I’m more than happy to do it.

Are you willing to sacrifice one minute of extra effort for perfect cupcakes? If you think about it that way, it’s totally worth it 🙂

8. Important notes on liquidy batters:

If your batter has a high liquid content, shrinking will occur after baking. The liquid produces a lot of steam. This steam puffs up the cupcake, but will evaporate after baking and your cupcakes will shrink.

Most amazing chocolate cupcake recipes call for boiling water, which is totally fine. I always just add about 1/5 less water than the recipe states – just in case!

Best link – “5 Ways to Keep your Cakes from Sinking” by Always Order Dessert.

 

Cupcake Troubleshooting Problem C: 

Cupcakes Overflow:

First you get excited because you can see your cupcakes are rising so well in the oven. How delightful! “These are going to be my most perfect cupcakes ever!” you think out loud.

Then they continue to rise… upwards and then outwards! Wait, Stop! Nooo!

So, what causes this?

9. Too much Leavening Agent:

More often than not, the reason is too much baking powder or bicarbonate of soda. Especially with bicarbonate of soda. “Soda spreads, powder puffs” Kitchen Conundrums always says.

I always weigh my baking powder and baking soda while sifting the dry ingredients together. Seriously 1 little gram does make a difference!

Think about how dangerous measuring is. Some folks scoop out a compacted teaspoon of baking powder, while others pour it out of a refill pack. There is just too much room for error.

Write down on each recipe the exact weight of baking powder you use so that you will know for the next time you make that recipe and get consistent results. Also stick to one brand! All of them differ, even if it is just slightly.

10. Overfilling your cupcakes:

If you see there is a bit too much batter, rather bake half a cupcake extra. Rather have one little manky one (which serves as your sneaky treat anyway) and 11 perfect cupcakes as opposed to 11 overflown cupcakes.

11. Oven temperature is too low:

Preheat your oven till the exact temperature before putting the cupcakes in the oven. If the temperature is too low, the outer batter will take longer to cook, extending the cupcakes’ rising phase beyond normal.

Consider buying an additional thermometer to hang inside your oven. Oven thermostats are not always that accurate. An additional thermometer is a MUST for a gas oven.

12. Too much acidity:

I once tried out a lemon cupcake recipe which called for lemon juice in the batter. I made a batch with lemon juice and one without. The batch with lemon juice completely overflowed.

Acidity can also act as a rising agent. Think of traditional Red Velvet Cake. The vinegar, along with the bicarbonate of soda, makes the cake rise.

Best link – “Basics and Troubleshooting” by Cupcake Blog.

 

Cupcake Troubleshooting Problem D: 

Cupcakes bake out in weird little overflowing limbs:

Image by maisoncupcake.com[/caption]

1. Oven temperature is too hot:

If your oven temperature is too hot, the outer layer of batter will bake and harden too quickly. The centre of the cupcake will still be liquid batter that needs to expand and go somewhere!

It will find the weakest spot on the cupcake and force itself out in that direction.

13. Unevenly mixed batter:

Always be careful of unevenly mixed cake batter when using a stand mixer. In fact, this can also occur when using a handheld electric beater.

Gently go around the bowl with a rubber spatula to loosen any butter and sugar that might still be stuck from the creaming phase.

Be sure to do this on the bottom of the bowl as well. Gently keep folding the batter with a rubber spatula till there are no streaks of butter left.

8. Too much leavening agent:

This can cause total overflowing (as discussed above) or sporadic overflowing in selected areas around the edges.

Best link – “Basics and Troubleshooting” by Cupcake Blog.

 

Cupcake Troubleshooting Problem D: 

Cupcake peels away from the wrapper all by itself:

Image by Jessica Harris Cake Design

This tends to happen when I bake gluten free cupcakes. I assume it is because gluten free goods contain less binding agents. In that case it makes sense that there is less binding between the cupcake and its wrapper as well.

The way I solve this is to use average quality cupcake wrappers. They have a poor non-stick ability, so they stick very well to cupcakes. With regular cupcakes this can be annoying, but with gluten free cupcakes it works perfectly!

14. Under baking your cupcakes:

With regular cupcakes it is usually due to under baking your cupcakes. When the cupcakes cool, they then shrink inwards and leave the wrapper behind.

15. Fancy Cupcake Liners:

This problem also occurs with fancy cupcake wrappers. All cupcakes will shrink at least a little bit after baking. If your wrapper is a rigid one, the shape of the cupcake will change post baking, but the wrapper will remain the same.

For this reason I really prefer fluted paper cupcake wrappers which expand and contract with the cupcake.

Best link – “Cupcake wrapper mystery – SOLVED!” by Jessica Harris Cake Design.

This concludes my FULL Cupcake Troubleshooting! Thanks for reading! If you have had any other cupcake struggles which are not discussed in this post, please share them. I’ll answer them to the best of my ability or direct you to someone who can.

 

Want Perfect Cupcake Recipes?

Today’s your lucky day because I’m giving you my 3 most popular, perfected Cupcake Recipes for FREE! I’ve spent 7 years perfecting these recipes and have baked and sold literally THOUSANDS of these cupcakes.

  1. Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes Recipejoin the free Resource Library for Home Bakers to get the recipe.
  2. Ultimate Carrot Cupcakes Recipeclick here get the recipe on my blog.
  3. Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes Recipeclick here get the recipe on my blog.

How to Bake PERFECT cupcakes every single time. Perfect Cupcakes are a science! Click through to discover the 15 mistakes that are ruining your cupcakes plus solutions to easily fix all of these problems. #perfectcupcakes #cupcakes #cupcaketips #bakingtips

I hope you enjoyed my full cupcake troubleshooting! Click here to read PART 2 of How to Bake Perfect Cupcakes. In this post I share my more advanced, secret tips I use to make my cupcakes exceptional, not just error-free!

Happy baking! Chat soon!

Aurelia 🙂

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment)

Shiny Brownie Crust – Foolproof and Perfect!

Shiny Brownie Crust – Foolproof and Perfect!

Shiny Brownie Crust – Foolproof and Perfect!

I’ve finally cracked it! Here’s EVERYTHING you need to know to give you a shiny crust (shiny brownie skin/tops)!

I LOVE baking science and LOVE geeking out on it, but if you just want to skip the science-y stuff and jump straight to the step-by-step method, then click this button…

A BROWNIE IS NOT FULLY DRESSED WITHOUT ITS SHINY CRUST.

The texture of the brownie can be perfect, nuts can be waiting for you in every bite and the best quality chocolate can radiate its aroma, but without the thin, crackly, SHINY crust… the experience just isn’t the same 😕

Please note: This is a long post. It has been a VERY complicated and long journey to crack the science behind the Shiny Brownie Crust.

There are a myriad of my Brownie recipes that can get away with not having a crust; like my EPIC Red Velvet Brownies, but for good old classic Chocolate Brownies or The Best Ever Gluten Free Brownies, there is no where to hide!

Shiny brownie crust 1

My relationship with the humble brownie crust has been a love-hate one for sure. My husband and I can recall at least 5 different instances where I’ve shouted “I’ve finally figured out the shiny brownie crust!!”.

And then 10 more where I said very soberly No, this time I’ve REALLY figured it out! I know I’ve said this so many times before, but this time it’s really true.

As you may have guessed I then figured out, again, for the fifteenth time, that I hadn’t REALLY figured it out yet.

I was onto it, but I just didn’t get it yet…

So here is my 3 1/2 year long brownie journey condensed into one blog post. I’ve done this so that you will not suffer the same frustration, but get to experience all of the joy of a perfect shiny brownie crust!

 

How did I crack the Shiny Brownie Crust Phenomenon?

Having supplied coffee shops here in Cape Town for 5 years (Field Office, Salisburys and Eat with Emma) has given me a very generous opportunity to experiment with baking methods.

My goal is always to get each baked thingy as good as it can possibly be.

How many brownies have I baked? This is where Microsoft Excel comes in handy! And the answer is 28748 BROWNIES. Yep. That’s about 5750 brownies per year.

For a solo baker that is quite a lot I suppose. I’m sharing the numbers because I want you to see that it sometimes takes a lot of patience and perseverance to crack a baking secret.

Trial and error, trial and error (repeat).

What is amazing is that quite often you’ll discover other secrets along the way that you didn’t even bother to think about! I’ll be sharing these secret discoveries as well.

 

Which Brownie Recipe Should You Use?

The beauty of this Shiny Brownie Crust Hack is that it applies to ALL classic brownie recipes (not vegan or sugar free though) – Whether it uses cocoa powder or chocolate or both! Happy days! So, you can really just use your favourite brownie recipe.

This hack unfortunately does not work for Vegan brownies, but here is a vegan brownie recipe that does turn out with a shiny brownie crust.

I personally prefer chocolate only for gluten free brownies, but for normal brownies I love a recipe that uses both cocoa powder and chocolate in the batter itself as I find the chocolate flavour to be more intense and the texture perfectly chewy!

I LOVE CHEWY BROWNIES. I love adding chocolate chunks as well.

There are many blogs on INGREDIENT properties such as different sugars, flours, chocolate etc. This blog will not cover those topics. Click here for a useful guide on ingredient properties.

 

Breakthrough #1: Butter

Let’s pause. It is beautiful.

Moving on…

The main factor here is HEAT.

I’ve done a fair bit of internet research on how to crack the darn brownie crust and here is what some had to say about the butter:

“Melt the butter over simmering water OR in the microwave in 30 second bursts. Do not boil!”

FALSE. You want this mixture to be as warm as possible. You need the heat for a very specific reason which will be explained later. Bring the butter to boiling point in your microwave in a mixing bowl and from here on work as quick as you can.

When the butter it HOT, it dissolves the sugar much faster. And for the shiny brownie crust hack to work, you need your brownie batter to be a bit warm – preferably.

Be sure to have all your dry ingredients already sifted together, chocolate already chopped, room temperature eggs standing by.

Go ahead and melt the butter in the microwave for 3 minutes until it boils. It is not necessary to do it in 30 second bursts.

The heat of the butter made a huge difference, BUT to my frustration this did not work 100% of the time. In winter especially, the shiny brownie crust would take a vacation.

This new discovery was great, but I was still missing something.

 

Breakthrough #2: Ratio of Ingredients

My ratio is:

Butter Sugar Dry ingredients Eggs
400g 600g 400g 4 Jumbo eggs (240g without shell)
1 1.5 1 1

This ratio is more for the purpose of optimal texture AKA fudgy, gooey, chewy perfection! I use a combination of Treacle sugar and white sugar. The treacle sugar adds a lovely earthy note and also chewiness – yum!

 

Breakthrough #3: Whipping/Beating

I found this information from Brownie Chronicles:

“Whether brownies have a crust on top depends on how much you beat the batter after the eggs are added. The more you beat, the more crust you get. If you beat vigorously with a mixer, you can get a dramatic crust. 

Depending on how much you beat, this crust can be barely noticeable or a crisp, shiny crust that is totally puffed, and separated above the cake or brownie. It is also usually lighter in color. The color and shine are especially noticeable on brownies.

“This is a meringue-like crust and is actually caused by a “meringue.”  Your beating of the batter after the eggs are added creates it. This seems not to be widely known even among chocolate experts.

I tried this. It didn’t work. No shiny brownie crust. I was depressed.

Brownie chronicles should have the answer right? I did however find that beating the batter improves the brownie texture massively!

From then on I have always beaten my batter with the paddle attachment on medium – low speed for 3 minutes. You’d think it makes the brownies tough, but it seriously doesn’t! It just adds a glorious chewiness – you’ve got to try it at least once!

shiny brownie crust texture

Beating by hand plays no role. Unless you want impressive guns. Beating the eggs and sugar separately for 3-5 minutes before folding in the remaining ingredients (http://www.handletheheat.com/ultimate-brownie-guide/) creates a “crust”, but it is not always shiny.

Very often it is dull, but just a lighter colour than the rest of the brownie below the surface.

Some recipes with beating the eggs and sugar separately, do deliver a shiny crust, BUT the texture is NOT chewyI want both if that’s possible. Shiny brownie crust AND chewiness.

I do not beat the eggs and sugar separately, but I beat the mixture right at the end when all the ingredients are in the bowl. This does not deliver a shiny crust at all, but I do it because it improves the texture of my brownies.

 

Breakthrough #4: Eggs

The crust is definitely influenced by the amount and type of egg in the recipe.

You can achieve a brownie crust with a normal amount of eggs – you don’t need to add more or less eggs. The amount of eggs I use is mainly for the optimum texture.

Although, I’ve noticed that it helps the crust along if my total egg in the recipe contains more EGG WHITE. 

Let’s say my recipe uses 130 g of egg; then I’ll use about 100 g of whole egg and top up the remaining 30 g with egg white. Not beaten or anything, just plain egg white out of the shell.

Too much egg will result in a very spongy brownie. Too little and the brownie is too dense and solid. 

Another myth is that you have to add them in one by one. Not necessary. I add them all in one go and mix on low speed for 10 seconds until they are roughly incorporated.

Want to get that thin, super shiny crust on top of your brownies? Great news is, you don't need to drop your favourite brownie recipe in search of a shiny-top brownie recipe! You can use this simple baking tip to get a shiny crust on ANY brownie recipe that contains dairy and sugar! Click through to get the step by step method for baking brownies with a shiny crust on top... #baking #bakingtips #brownies #homebaking #bakingtipsandtricks

 

Breakthrough #5: Sugar

Here’s where things get interesting.

According to Hackaday’s shiny brownies post, the shiny crust is determined by how well you dissolve the sugar in your brownies AND how much sugar you use.

This is definitely true.

But the problem comes in if you DON’T want a brownie that’s SUPER sweet. Personally it’s a bit disappointing to me that I HAVE to use loads of sugar to get a shiny brownie crust.

Don’t get me wrong, I think sugar is wonderful. But I want the overall flavour of my brownies to be CHOCOLATY, not overwhelming sweetness.

So, with my method you get to create a shiny brownie crust without compromising the flavour of your brownies.

Of course, in ALL baking it’s good to dissolve your sugar – although it doesn’t need to be dissolved completely with my method.

Just dunk all your sugar into your melted butter in one go. Then mix on low speed for about 1 minute – the sugar should be sticky and glue-y when you lift up the paddle.

But if your recipe specifies to beat the eggs and sugar together for 5 minutes, then please do that.

 

Breakthrough #6: Chocolate vs. Cocoa Powder

When I first started making brownies as a side-hustle in university, I used a recipe with mounds of chocolate.

Problem is that I had a horrible oven (university dorm kitchens!), an even worse stove and no understanding of chocolate seizing.

They were still amazing though! I sold them during my years as architecture student to raise money for the university’s charity program – Jool/Rag. This recipe used the eggs & sugar whipping technique. A shiny brownie crust did appear from time to time.

I thought it might be worth a go to try a recipe that uses cocoa powder. I took the first one I found in a magazine which happened to be a yummy one! I decided to make it my new “go to” recipe as the chewiness of the brownies was just amazing!

I’ve modified the recipe drastically over the years. One addition to the recipe was Milk Chocolate chunks and hazelnuts. I loved the idea of chocolate chunks (dark and milk separately) and hazelnuts that provide flavour as well as more exciting textures!

What puzzled me was that sometimes there was this ridiculously awesome shiny brownie crust on top and other times not even a trace of it! I did not understand. I made an effort to mix it EXACTLY the same way as I did before, but different results came forth with very inconsistent frequency.

I also did not believe that it could be Chocolate that makes the big difference because my gluten free brownies have ONLY DARK CHOCOLATE and also didn’t develop a shiny brownie crust.

 

Breakthrough #7: MILK Chocolate

So it happened one fine day in the second month of 2015 that someone ordered brownies without any nuts due to an allergy.

This meant my dear hazelnut milk chocolate had to be left out this time and so did other chocolate because most of them are “manufactured in a factory that uses nuts”.

Now up until this point I had believed that the whipping caused the shiny brownie crust (even though the success rate was 70/30, which was the most consistent theory I had found anyway).

Even Kitchen Conundrums said this too and I really have a high regard for everything they say! Their lemon meringue video is amazing!!

I did everything the way I always do it… Melt the butter to boiling point in the microwave. Quickly add the white sugar and treacle sugar. Mix in the eggs all at once. Add the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed till incorporated. Scrape down the sides. Beat on medium speed for exactly 3.5 minutes. Bake at 180°C for exactly 37 minutes, turning after 15. And then…

NO crust.

This time, however, my inward fit of frustration only lasted 10 seconds as I had realized what has been happening all along…

The reason why it often worked when the butter was boiling hot, was because there was heat. The fully mixed batter had enough heat to melt something that is sensitive to temperature…

The reason why it often worked to let the moody brownies rest before baking, was because there was more time available for something specific to happen.

The reason why the crust took a vacation in winter, was not because it fancied the Bahamas. The drastic drop in temperature hindered a scientific reaction.

Milk chocolate. MELTED milk chocolate. In the nut free version, there was no milk chocolate present. The heat of the batter couldn’t melt it no matter how long it stood “resting” because well, it wasn’t there. I had left out the Hazelnut Milk Chocolate due to allergies.

I had another experiment.

This time I chopped as little as 20g of milk chocolate. I sprinkled it on top of the batter, left it for a minute and spread the slightly melted chocolate into the top layer of brownie batter…

shiny brownie crust method

Eureka. HELLO SHINY BROWNIE CRUST!!

Struggling to get shiny tops on your brownies? You know, that thin shiny crust that take brownies to the next level! In this thorough post you'll learn all the secret tricks you need to get this shiny crust on any brownie recipe (except vegan or sugar free)! #brownies #homebaking #chocolatebrownies #shinybrownies #browniecrust

Now there happens to be a lovely trick you can apply during winter months… the hairdryer! Tada! Sprinkle finely chopped milk chocolate over the surface, apply heat until chocolate is melted, spread into the top of the batter.

PERFECT SHINY BROWNIE CRUST. EVERY. TIME.

Shiny Brownie Crust! An incredible baking hack! Best part - this baking tip gives you a shiny crust on ANY brownie recipe! Click through to learn how to create a shiny, paper thin crust on your brownies. #homebaking #bakingtips #baking #brownies #chocolatebrownies

 

Try it out and let me know if you are pleased with the results!

I’ve tried this with my gluten free brownies as well which don’t contain any cocoa powder. I’ve had the same successful shiny brownie crust for 6 glorious months now on ANY brownie recipe!

WE’VE FOUND NEMO!!

I’ve been tempted to stop here, but the journey is not yet fully complete. Continue to read if you are a scientist like me! I still wanted to understand and know what specific ingredient name I had to frame in my home!

WHAT ingredient is it that causes the shiny brownie crust for Pete’s sake?!

So my experiment took me a little further. I approached my favourite chocolaterie, CocoaFair (Cape Town, South Africa) and asked for their expertise on Milk Chocolate.

There are 2 ingredients that feature in Milk Chocolate, but not in Dark Chocolate.

Milk powder (Milk solids) and Soy Lecithin. I obtained some Soy Lecithin and Milk Powder from my dear chocolate friends at CocoaFair!

This week I made 3 last batches to settle the argument of the shiny brownie crust once and for all.

  1. Normal brownie batter + milk powder.
  2. Normal brownie batter + soy lecithin.
  3. Normal brownie batter + milk powder + soy lecithin.

milk & soy test

Thus, it is the COMBINATION OF SOY LECITHIN AND MILK SOLIDS that creates the shiny brownie crust. Wow! I dissolved the soy lecithin granules and milk powder in water (left it standing for one hour).

shiny brownie crust smear

I thought it might be a good idea to smear at least part of the surface with a spatula so that the structure of the top layer had been realigned – another one of my theories. It turned out to be another key to a shiny brownie crust!

To Clarify The Shiny Brownie Crust Method:

  1. Make your favourite brownie recipe as usual, but make sure the melted butter is boiling hot. Add the sugar and mix it for at least 1 minute so it dissolves a bit . It should be sticky, glue-y and cling to your spoon or paddle beater.
  2. Mix in the eggs and dry ingredients. Move quickly so your batter stays WARM. If your batter gets cold, your crust will be compromised. Pour the batter into the tin and level it out with a spatula.
  3. Chop about 20 g of MILK chocolate finely (don’t use anything higher than 38% Milk Chocolate. Dark chocolate doesn’t work! You need the dairy & sugar in the milk chocolate. If you’re making blondies, use white chocolate). Sprinkle on the surface of your brownie batter in the tin.
  4. Apply heat to the top to melt the milk chocolate. In summertime you can leave it in the sun for 40 seconds – 1 minute. In winter, use a hairdryer to melt the finely chopped chocolate on the surface.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, smear the melted milk chocolate into the top of the brownie batter in even, long strokes. Be sure to smear all of it in and not leave any chocolate streaks!
  6. Bake in the top third of your oven for the time your recipe states. (Don’t add anything else to the oven while the brownies are baking. Moisture in the oven will stop the shiny crust from forming.)
  7. Voila! Perfect Shiny Brownie Crust! Enjoy!

Well, it’s been frustrating, enlightening, educational and (mostly) fun! SO grateful that I can sleep at night now – at last!!

Chat soon!

Aurelia 🙂

Got a question? Something to add? Let’s chat in the comments section down below! (I respond to every single comment)