Your chocolate-chip cookies totally slay, and your lemon tart deserves a lifetime achievement award. You're on the way to baking greatness, but to be a real master, you need to amp up your skill set. But how?
Hey, we've got an action plan for you right here! Work your way through all the skills on this list to achieve all your baking #goals.
Even better, you get to eat all the delicious "mistakes" along the way.
Your baking-skills bucket list
1. Shaping and scoring bread
Creating your own Insta-worthy loaf makes you feel like you've got this whole baking thing down. And while recipes for no-yeast rolls or sandwich bread are an excellent way to build your baking self-esteem, if you really want to impress you'll need to start shaping and scoring your bread. Not only will your loaves look gorgeous, but they'll bake more evenly too.
2. Caramelizing sugar
If you want to create beautiful cake toppings, sauces, candies and crackling candy glazes, you'll need this skill.
We won't lie: Caramelization involves very hot sugar, and yes, it can burn you. But learn the right technique, and you'll have nothing to worry about.
3. Making pie dough by hand
Sure, you can switch on your food processor (or stroll down the freezer aisle in your grocery store) to get a picture-perfect pie crust. But once you try the hands-on approach, a whole new world opens up. Now you're not only making delicious fruit pies that you can, without exaggeration, totally claim as your own; you're also using that homemade pie dough for chicken-pot pies, pie-crust cookies, DIY Pop-Tarts and so much more.
4. Melting white chocolate
It's a cold, hard fact: Melting dark or milk chocolate is way easier than melting their finicky cousin, white chocolate . White chocolate has a different melting point than chocolate, so you have to pay extra-close attention. Melting white chocolate isn't exactly tough, but you do need to know what you're doing. And that just means one thing: practice, practice, practice.
5. Making candy at home
Making candy looks like magic, but the only real trick is learning what to look for at each stage. Do you know your soft ball stage from a hard crack? Once you've mastered that, you can not only create stunning candies to give as gifts (or eat yourself!), but you can also make glazes and decorations that boost the wow factor in every dessert you make.
6. Baking macarons
Macarons look so perfect, they can actually be terrifying — for home bakers, anyway. But don't be scared. While they can be challenging to make the first few times, you can master these airy French confections. Before you know it, you'll be turning out "OMG!" treats that would look at home at the fanciest patisserie.
7. Make a mirror glaze
True, the mirror glaze was super-trendy a few years ago, but who cares if it's not the latest thing? It's worth your time to learn to create a glassy finish that will make your cakes shine (literally).
8. Allergy-friendly baking
You don't have to be vegan, gluten-free or on a special diet to need allergy-friendly baking skills in your life. Chances are, someone you know can't eat this or that ingredient, so it's thoughtful to serve baked goods that don't leave those people out. Plus working with gluten-free flours or vegan recipes is a fun challenge in its own right.
9. Tempering chocolate
If you hear the word "tempering" and go, "Whoa, I'm not ready for that," you're definitely not alone. But tempering chocolate, which improves texture, shine and durability, sounds more complicated than it is. All you do is melt the chocolate, let it cool until stable crystals of cocoa butter form, and then heat it back up to a working temperature.
Tempered chocolate gives your candy bar that perfect snap, and gets candies and other kinds of baked goods to look ultra-smooth and glossy. Best part: If you mess it up a few times as you're learning, we bet you can think of a way to "dispose" of the results.