Ina Garten’s 10 Tips for Baking Like a Pro

Bake like a pro with Ina Garten’s baking tips. From measuring ingredients to using an oven thermometer the longtime Food Network star and celebrity chef has Barefoot Contessa tips for it all. 

Ina Garten’s baking tips include 4 on measuring

Ina Garten smiles and she stands at a kitchen counter wearing a blue shirt
Ina Garten | Mike Smith/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Measuring is crucial in baking. Too much or too little of any one ingredient has the potential to completely change a batch of cookies or brownies. 

As Garten noted in her Barefoot Contessa cookbook, Cook Like a Pro, it’s important in baking to do four things when measuring. First, “measure all the ingredients carefully.” 

That includes fluffing “the flour with your measuring cup before you measure it” and leveling “off the measuring cup with a straight knife of metal spatula.” Remember, the goal is to get as exact measurements as possible. 

Lastly, Garten’s baking tips include a note on measuring cups. “Use dry measures for dry ingredients, such as flour and sugar, and liquid measures for wet ingredients, such as milk or sour cream,” she said. 

The Barefoot Contessa says to use room temperature ingredients

Waiting for butter and eggs to come to room temperature might be annoying when the desire for freshly baked cookies is strong but it’s a necessary step in the baking process, according to the Barefoot Contessa host. 

Garten’s baking tips include bringing “butter and eggs fully to room temperature before using them to bake a cake.” She likes to “leave them out of the refrigerator overnight,” she said before adding that they to sit on the counter for at least two hours. 

Other room temperature ingredients Garten prefers in baking and cooking include oranges, lemons, and garlic.

Garten warns against overmixing

Don’t use the standing mixer, a Barefoot Contessa-approved kitchen gadget, or handheld mixer for too long. 

“Beat the butter, sugar, and the eggs on high speed, until light and fluffy. Add the flour on low speed and, from that point on, mix the batter only as much as necessary to combine the ingredients,” Garten said. “You don’t want to develop the gluten in the flour by overbeating it.”

The Food Network star suggests parchment paper for easy removal

Have parchment paper at the ready when baking. Lining baking pans with parchment paper is a Garten baking tip. As she said, “there’s no point in baking something if you can’t get it out of the pan.”

Garten’s baking tips also include 3 on ovens

Ina Garten looks on wearing a black shirt
Ina Garten | Amber De Vos/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Garten might own a stove with a five-figure price tag but her oven-related baking tips are much more affordable. 

“Test your oven with an oven thermometer each time you bake,” she said. “Don’t trust the dial!” In fact, oven thermometers are one of three kitchen tools Garten uses to perfect recipes

Next, is to “bake in the middle of the oven.” That is, of course, unless a recipe says otherwise. Why? Because, according to Garten, the middle of the oven circulates the heat best. Also, don’t overcrowd the oven. 

Finally, Garten’s baking tips include a warning not to overbake. “When a cake recipe says to bake for 20 to 25 minutes, start checking the cake with a wooden skewer after 18 minutes,” she said. 

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