Baking: long, messy and it never looks as good as in the picture? It doesn’t have to be that way! We sat down with baking expert (well, she was a Great British Bake Off finalist) Flora Shedden at AO.com's cocktail party for her ultimate hacks on how to make baking a whole lot easier. Read on for her top tips …
1. Keep your cupboard well stocked. “If you have all the ingredients you need, you can rustle things up quite quickly”, and it will stop you from putting off your edible masterpiece.
2. Buy tin liners. “I pick up the round tin liners made of pre-cut greaseproof paper circles, which really speed the baking process up!”
3. Pre-cut greaseproof paper. “I also pre-cut strips of greaseproof paper, as I very rarely remember to grease my tin before I start baking. If I’ve made a cake batter and need to get it in the tin quickly, the strips are ready to go”.
4. Line your tin with batter. “Instead of using butter to grease your baking tin, line it with batter instead. Get a sheet of kitchen roll and wipe up a tiny bit of the cake batter. Spread that around the tin, and it will stick the greaseproof paper in”.
5. Buy cheap baking spread. “My flatmate is actually lactose intolerant, so I end up baking with cheaper baking spreads to avoid butter. They might not be the healthiest ingredients, but they’re great when you’re using the all-in-one method”.
6. Buy a food processor. “You don’t need too many gadgets in the kitchen, but if you’re serious about baking then a good mixer and food processor will be really helpful. Other than that, a nice big oven and a really big dishwasher!"
7. Check the weather. Seriously. “I’m from Scotland and it’s so cold that I can leave butter out at room temperature for hours and hours and it’s never going to soften”.
8. Don’t be scared of shop bought ingredients. If you’re strapped for time or even just a beginner at baking, they’re totally acceptable. Even Flora admits to using shop bought puff pastry and shop bought marzipan.