I mentioned that I'm including these in a Recipes Binder project and there was some interest in what makes up my lsit...sharing for those that might want to take a look: Misc. Baking Tips This is sort of a brain dump of all sorts of little things I’ve learned over the years! Apologies if you are well aware of some of them!!! Cookie Advice --- Chilled dough will help keep cookies from spreading. If a cookie does spread, use the back of a spoon to gently press back in the sides of each cookie AS SOON AS you take then out of the oven. There is only so much you can do with this but it can really make a difference. Drop cookie dough can be made “prettier” by shaping/rolling the chilled dough into logs that you wrap and chill again. You can then slice and bake to get nice little uniform cookies. Cookies that are filled with bits of yummy goodness, candy, cookie bits - whatever - can be dolled up a bit by saving back some extra bits to press into the tops of each cookie just before popping them into the oven. Whenever baking a new cookie recipe, bake 1 or 2 cookies first to get your baking time right. Let them cool after taking out of the oven to see if they “set up”. They might not look done when you pull them out, but many cookies will get overdone if you leave them in too long past the cooking time called for. Never put cookie dough on a hot baking sheet. It will melt and spread and just yuck. Rotate your sheets. If you can, always cook on parchment paper. It distributes the heat nicely and makes for easy cleanup. You can reuse the same sheet of parchment many times before it gets brittle and you’ll want to toss it. If a recipe calles for softened butter and you forgot to take it out of the fridge a few hours ago: Run really hot tap water. Take a drinking glass that will hold the whole stick of butter - still in the wrapper - and let it sit under the hot water until glass is HOT. Set stick of butter on one end and turn the hot glass (dried off) over the top of the butter stick and let it sit and think about the error of it’s ways. Repeat as needed until butter is softened. If you try to soften butter in the microwave, do it on defrost. A few seconds at a time. The risk is the uneven heating melting part of the butter. To rescue partially melted butter. Throw an icecube in the bowl with the butter and stir until the butter hardens back up again - remove what is left of the ice cube. Stop and think - wow, that was cool. Let’s melt some more butter so I can try that again. When working with any sticky dough remember your friend, cooking spray. Use it on your hands and any measuring cups or utensils that will interact with the dough to keep things from getting too crazy. Reapply the spray as needed. Instead of mixing the spices with the dry ingredients, cream them in with the butter and sugar. The flavor compounds are fat soluble mixing them with the butter first will intensify the flavor. What if you aren’t sure if the eggs in the fridge are still good? Let’s say it’s a week or so past the expiration date. Fill a large bowl of cool water. Place the eggs - a few at a time - in the water. If they float or look like they are trying to float - toss em. If they stay on the bottom, they’re golden. If they’re standing up a little, use right away or toss, up to you. If you are mixing icing with food coloring and are trying to get a true Christmas red - try adding a little brown food coloring as well. It deepens the hue and avoids the neon/pinkish red problem. Go to a craft store with a cake decorating section for best selection - gel food colors give most intense colors vs. liquid. Dip a toothpick into the gel and drag though what you are trying to color. Repeat with addtional toothpicks until color is achieved. Getting bread to rise: Bread likes places warm and draft free. So no doors opening and sending an icy blast. One option is to turn oven on lowest setting for 5 minutes - turn off - let sit a bit with door cracked. Stick your hand in the oven - your want warm but not hot air in there. When it’s right, put in your dough to rise - covered with a dampened lint free towel - either leave oven cracked or close - see what works best. Leave the oven light on, that will help too. Another option is what I call “putting the bread to bed” If you own a heating pad, you can do this. Take some old towels and put one down surface of choice - I’ve used the nightstand in my bedroom for this - just make sure it is somewhere away from drafty windows. On top of the towel place the heating pad. Cover the pad with another old towel. Set the bowl or whatever that has your dough in it on top. With additional towels make a “nest” around the sides of the bowl. Turn heating pad to LOW and let it rise to it’s heart content. Check it every so often in case your heating pad turns off automatically. You can cover the dough with plastic wrap lightly spritzed with cooking spray when using this method. Or a dampened towel works too.