Rain showers and blooming flowers aren't the only things that will be kind to your sense of smell this spring. It's also the time of year when you start to bake up homemade breads, cookies, and moist crumbly muffins.
This year, mix in some new recipes with some longtime family favorites. Here are some tips for making yummy treats that will have the entire neighborhood gathering outside your kitchen this spring:
* Bake quick breads in the center of the oven rack for best heat circulation.
* Use a spring-handled ice cream scoop (No. 20 or No. 24) to fill muffin cups or a melon-ball sized scoop for mini muffins.
* To tell if yeast bread is done baking in the oven, tap the crust. If the bread sounds hollow, it's finished.
* Boost the nutrition level in your cookies by using whole wheat flour. This works really well for drop cookies. Find several favorite recipes to try at www.GoldMedalWholeWheat.com.
* When making biscuits, make sure the baking powder or baking soda ingredients are fresh. Look for expiration dates on the bottom of the box or can.
* And if you're looking for an easy way to add some whole grain to your diet, whole wheat flour adds a special flavor and texture to your baked goods.
* Bread dough made with whole wheat flour will be stickier because the bran and germ in the whole grain keep the dough sticky. Don't add more flour; this will make your bread dry and heavy. Instead, try lightly oiling your hands to work with the dough.
For more tips, go to www.GoldMedalFlour.com to sign up for the Scratch Bakers' Club, an online community with recipes, message boards, how-to videos and baking advice from baking expert and author of "The Cake Bible," Rose Levy Beranbaum. Register today, and enter the Gold Medal Flour Scratch Bakers' Club Baking Contest as well.
And, to get your spring baking season started off right, try this recipe.
Springtime Slice-and-Bake Confetti Cookies
Makes about four dozen cookies
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/4 cups Gold Medal all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
10 drops red food coloring
16 drops yellow food coloring
9 drops green food coloring
3 tablespoons pastel-colored confetti candy sprinkles
Heat oven to 375 F. Line bottom of a loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches, with plastic wrap. Beat sugar, butter and shortening in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed or mix with a spoon. Stir in egg, milk and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Divide dough into thirds. Knead one food coloring into each dough. Press one of the colored doughs in the bottom of the pan. Top with remaining colored doughs, pressing each layer firmly to seal. Turn the pan upside down and remove the plastic wrap from the dough. Cut dough lengthwise into thirds. Cut each third crosswise into 16 slices. Place about two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with candy sprinkles. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until bottoms are a light golden brown. Cool for one minute, remove from cookie sheet and place on a wire rack.
Courtesy of ARAcontent