Getty / Lynne Mitchell
Winter is when I do most of my big baking projects. Whether it’s big batches of cookies to keep in the freezer for entertaining, sweet breads to give away, or fun desserts to enjoy with friends, windy and pleasant days lend themselves to some baking that takes a little longer. or require more concentration.
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Why baking tips and tricks make such a difference
I don’t mind a baking project getting a little complicated or finicky for the right reasons: doughs that need time to rest and develop flavor, or detailed decorating work. But as a cook and baker who likes to work clean and efficiently, I can’t stand it when something that should be a simple part of a recipe takes a long time or is difficult to accomplish. I love when I can learn little tips and tricks to make some of the minutiae of cooking and baking easier, from spraying the inside of a measuring cup with nonstick spray before measuring something sticky like honey or molasses or adding a spoonful of the dry mix to wet dough to prevent it from breaking, to coat chocolate cake pans with cocoa powder instead of flour to prevent white streaks on cakes. I love a quick and easy trick that makes my baking easier and better.
The challenge of chopping sticky stuff for baking
One of the things that can be difficult to work with when cooking are dried or candied fruits. The very thing that makes them delicious—that sweet flavor and dense chewy texture—also makes them a prep nightmare. Whether you’re chopping by hand or in a food processor, they stick to each other and to the blade, and if you want consistency, you have to cut every little piece by hand, which takes forever.
Related—How to make dried fruits and more without any special equipment
My solution for chopping up the sticky stuff: a pinch of sugar!
Enter my new favorite cooking tip. When working with candied or dried fruit or any sticky items that need to be chopped, dust them with a little granulated sugar from the recipe before chopping. Much like sprinkling salt on garlic to chop it finely (you’re welcome if you didn’t already know about this hack), sugar will both provide traction for your knife or CPU blade and keep the chunks from falling apart. stick together when you chop them. , allowing you to chop them as finely as needed while keeping the pieces separate.
Whether you are working with candied ginger or candied prunes, apricots or peels, tossing them with a little granulated sugar to chop and adding a little more if needed as the pieces get smaller will give you an experience quick and smooth prep so you can get on with your cooking!
Now back to those cookies!