Baking Beliefs – True or False by Chef Steven Ong!

When it comes to baking, there are certain instructions that are stated in the recipe to ensure successful outcome of your baking effort. However, common baking advice is not always correct. In this article, we consulted Chef Steven Ong, SHATEC Assistant Director for Culinary Studies, Pastry & Baking and Operation, on separating facts from fiction on 5 common baking beliefs.

1. Use Room-Temperature Ingredients 

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Most of the time, certain recipes require ingredients such as butter. Run through most of the recipes and you will find something in common: to use butter in room temperature. However, did you know that you can use cold butter in your mixing, as opposed to the common belief?

From Chef Steven:

Butter is an emulsified dairy product which contains more than 80% butterfat. It is in solid state when chilled but turns soft and even liquid when warmed. As it softens very easily, it is therefore a good idea to cream butter when it is chilled and cut it into small cubes for efficient creaming and trapping of air. After all, heat will be created through friction during mixing.

2. Invest in Quality Bakeware 

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Being a great baker doesn’t only depend on quality ingredients, quality bakeware matters too. Bakeware that are flimsy would not be able to conduct heat efficiently, resulting in your baked goods to bake ineffectively. At the same time, a quality bakeware is also essential for healthy eating. Certain websites state that non-stick bakeware can be toxic due to its coating flaking over time, transferring foreign matter to your food.

From Chef Steven:

Non-stick silicon-coated baking moulds and trays are used all over the world, especially in developed countries and even for domestic use these days. They are proven to be safe. Some are called flexipan, silicon moulds, silpad etc.

3. Weigh Your Ingredients

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There are cheat days when we just want to go ahead with our gut feelings and intuition, but do not underestimate the value of a kitchen scale. The ability of getting precise measurements is valuable as baking involves a lot of science and chemical reactions such as yeast and flour for bread making. If you are baking for a special someone or for a major event, skip all the guesswork and use your kitchen scale to eliminate as much potential of making errors as possible.

4. Butter and Flour Your Pan Generously

You are now halfway through baking, ready to transform the dough into something amazing. At this point, the dough is very sticky and will stick to the pan if there is no coating on the sides of the pan. Butter or flour at every nook and cranny and be generous with each coating.

From Chef Steven:

You can skip this step if you are already using non-stick silicon mould.

5. Let It Cool Completely

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Transferring a warm pastry product into a container will capture steam, causing the baked product to lose its freshness fairly quickly. In addition, certain pastries are fragile and prone to crumbling if you move them while it is still warm. Hence, it is important to let your pastry item to cool completely before keeping it as tightly sealed as possible after letting it cool down to room temperature. This would allow the pastry to maintain its freshness for a number of days.

About Chef Steven Ong

Chef Steven is the maestro behind the heavenly signature cakes and pastries of numerous top class hotels in Singapore and Malaysia. He carries more than 25 years of professional experience under his belt with an impressive list of achievements and accolade which few can rival. He is also the accomplished chef-owner of local fine patisserie, Centre Ps, which produces fine pastries, chocolates, desserts, breads and customised cakes.

Chef Steven’s divine creations have been savoured by international celebrities like Jackie Chan as well as local stars like Zoe Tay. In 2011, he even created the wedding cake for popular local songstress Stephanie Sun during her secret wedding! Chef Steven has also personally served royalty like Their Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan and several statesmen including the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Currently, Chef Steven manages the Pastry Production operations of both SHATEC and its training restaurant, The Sapling, in his capacity as Assistant Director. He devotes most of his time imparting skills and knowledge to young aspiring pastry chefs. Outside of his full-time trainings, Chef Steven conducts master classes for other industry chefs where he shares his professional techniques and experiences.

Other References

11 Things You Need to Do to Make Your Baked Goods Better by Rochelle Bilow, 21 October 2014,