In honor of our bakeware launch, we spent the day with Both Hands Baking Co. We brought over our new bakeware and they showed us how to make their amazing tarragon olive oil cake and they also gave us a few pointers to up our baking game.
A Little Bit About Both Hands
Both Hands Baking Co. formed when two friends, who met in the food industry, discovered that they were positive and supportive forces for one another. When the pandemic hit, and they realized they weren’t returning to the jobs they had, Maddie and Gab wanted to create their own work environment. Enter a micro-bakery, churning out bread, pies, cakes, and more.
When asked what the most gratifying part of their new venture was, they replied with “defining our own success. We make the rules.”
Maddie’s background is savory, while Gab’s is sweet. The combination of these two backgrounds leads to inventive dishes. Maddie excels in building flavor and bringing aspects of savory dishes to baked goods. Gab specializes in baking bread. Together, the two of them are the perfect pair. It started as just a side gig to make a little extra cash, but now Both Hands Baking Co. has become an amazing sense of joy.
The name Both Hands Baking Co. comes from the idea of a collaborative effort, but also a reminder of when you’re young, and you’re eating something, and you’re told to use both hands to hold something fragile and precious. You want to protect something that you love with two hands. And that is what Maddie and Gab have done with Both Hands Baking Co. Everything that leaves their kitchen is made with love, dedication, and years of expertise.
After getting the lowdown on how they make their Tarragon Olive Oil Cake, we sat down with Gab and Maddie to figure out what people can do at home to take their baking to the next level. Here’s what they had to say.
Make sure you have a good read on the oven temperature by using a thermometer.
It is essential to have a good reading of your oven temperature, as having the wrong temperature can destroy what you’re cooking. Gab keeps three thermometers in her oven because of the various hot spots. For laminated pastries, like croissants, if the oven is not hot enough, all of the hard work you’ve done is gone if your oven temperature is wrong.
Suppose one corner is hotter than the other. In that case, you want to rotate the dish to compensate and allow for even baking, so knowing if your oven has different temperatures is essential. Baking is a chemical reaction, so if it’s not the right temperature, you’ll have the wrong reaction.
Be sure to mix your ingredients properly.
Making sure your ingredients are fully incorporated is critical, as is using the right tools. Use a whisk when you want to incorporate air into your ingredients, and use a spatula when you want to fold things together and not create height or lift.
In a stand mixer, things can get stuck on the bottom, so mix your ingredients using the attachments, but then make sure to take the bowl off the mixer and incorporate the rest by hand at the end.
Overmixing your ingredients takes the air out, which can cause toughness and creates a chewy, leathery cake. If you see clumps of flour, don’t worry! These will dissipate when baked in the oven.
Make sure all of your ingredients are at the proper temperature.
If you’re emulsifying your ingredients, it’s important to have them at room temperature to help achieve proper emulsification, which is the uniform combination of ingredients. When you emulsify, you are combing and incorporating air, so when you go to bake your dish, the air serves as leavening and helps create a lighter, fluffier texture. If you don’t have ingredients at the same temperature, you can’t combine your ingredients thoroughly, so you’ll have chunks of ingredients in your baked goods.
However, there are some times when you want ingredients to be cold and at different temperatures. When making a pie, you want the butter in the crust to be cold. It is essential to follow the recipe! If it says all ingredients should be at room temperature, make sure they’re at room temperature!
Quick hack: placing eggs in warm water is a great trick to get them to room temperature. For butter, don’t microwave it. If you want to speed up the process, slice your butter into small pieces and leave it on the counter.
Making sure your cake is at the proper temperature before you go to glaze it.
It’s important to make sure your cake is at the right temperature when you glaze it, so you get the consistency of the glaze you want to achieve. For a ganache, you want the cake to be cold and the glaze to be warm for a glassy, drippy texture. For our olive oil cake, we had all the ingredients cooled for a glossy finish. For cinnamon buns, you want the glaze to be lukewarm, so it doesn’t runoff, but you still get that signature gooey icing drip.
Bonus: To achieve a flavorful and tender cake, brush your layers with anything from simple syrup to rum to Grand Marnier.
Adding a cake soak makes a huge difference if you’re building a layer cake and you have a lot of layers of frosting, as it adds a protective coating. Frosting will keep a cake moist, but a layer of simple syrup underneath the frosting will make the cake even more moist and tender.
It’s also a great way to add in another flavor element or build flavor. Chocolate with coffee, carrot cake with rum, the potential for complementary flavors is vast. We added another layer of tarragon in the olive oil cake by steeping the tarragon in simple syrup and applying that to the cake before adding the frosting. Simply use a pastry brush to apply the cake soak directly on the cake!