The Basics Every Baker Should Learn

A baking pro or have you only just dipped your toes into the wonderful world of batter and icing? Whatever your experience, there are definitely a few baking basics that everybody should practice and perfect.

Here at Dr. Oetker, we’re all about championing that feeling you get when you put time and effort into creating something delicious from scratch and it comes out tasting amazing. It really is a special kind of joy!

So, if more showstoppers and fewer soggy bottoms are top of your agenda, we have some super simple baking tips which will help improve your skillset and the look of your finished bakes. And, if you’re a baking beginner, you’ll also gain a huge dollop of confidence simply by mastering a few of our easy-peasy recipes below.


Reckon you’re the only one with a case of the baking nerves? Think again! We did a little research to understand the essential baking tips and tricks for beginners that the British public need to know. As well as discovering that only 67% of Brits are confident in their baking abilities, we also found out that:

  • Only 7% of people asked would know to how bake a white bread loaf without the help of a recipe.
  • 9% believe they’d find baking tricky without the use of a recipe.
  • 76% believe they are confident enough to alter a recipe with new ingredients.
  • 25% of people asked would consider entering the Great British Bake Off.
  • 71% believe they wouldn’t have the skills required to carry out a technical challenge successfully on the show.

When it comes right down to it, baking for beginners is all about practice, building on your confidence and grasping basic skills which you can then improve on over time. To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together a few baking tutorials and simple recipes.


Want to wow your friends and family? That doesn’t have to mean baking the most complicated recipe in the book! Instead, try perfecting some of our super simple recipes which we know you’ll love and want to re-create time and time again:

1. Shortcrust Pastry

Flaky Shortcrust Pastry is a staple component of plenty of sweet and savoury pie dishes. It’s also one of the easiest types of pastry to recreate yourself at home. All you’ll need is five basic ingredients – flour, butter, sugar, water and egg yolk. Shortcrust pastry only needs minimal kneading time too, so you don’t need to worry about getting sore arms.

2. Sponge Cake Mix

Despite its easy method, there’s nothing basic about a Victoria Sponge Cake. There’s a very simple way to remember how to make a sponge cake too – it’s always equal parts flour, sugar and butter. And you can bring a little wow factor to this classic British cake by using different flavoured fillings and gorgeous decorations.

3. White Bread Loaf

If the thought of making your own bread fills you with fear, it really shouldn’t. A fluffy classic white bread loaf is actually simple to make with only a handful of ingredients. Just remember to use strong bread flour and check that your yeast is in date. Proving times are also essential and you’ll be able to check if your dough is ready by giving it a little poke with your finger and seeing if the dough bounces back

4. Basic Biscuit Dough

Biscuits are one of the best easy baking recipes to tackle and they’ll normally only have a few ingredients. You can make them look more complicated than they are with some great flavour combos and lovely piped icing detailing, just like what you’ll see on our fun Rainbow Biscuits.

5. Meringue

If you’ve been baking for a while now, you might finally feel ready to master the meringue. This needn’t be a daunting task if you whip your egg whites properly into stiff peaks and ensure your oven is set on exactly the right temperature for baking.


Sometimes, keeping things simple is the best thing to do. That’s especially true when it comes to baking. The proof really is in the pudding, too, as some of our brilliant basic recipes above have become extremely popular on Instagram, racking up rack up huge numbers of posts. This includes:

·       34,600 posts for #shortcrustpastry

·       319,902 posts for #victoriasponge

·       53,890 posts for #breadloaf

·       67,678 posts for #icedbiscuits

·       1,592,715 posts for #meringue


Why not join the trend by mastering our basic bakes and sharing them on Instagram?

Why not join the trend by mastering our basic bakes and sharing them on Instagram?


Once you learn to bake a few simple recipes, you’ll be able to elevate them to showstoppers with just a few fabulous decorating techniques. We turned to Beth, our fantastic recipe developer, for advice on which ones to learn first:

1. Icing / Piping

Once you’ve mastered the sponge cake, take it to the next level by smothering it in a smooth layer of buttercream. All you’ll need to do this is a palette knife or cake scraper which you’ll use to help evenly cover the tops and sides of your cake.


If you have a turntable, even better. This will really help you achieve a neat finish and is a must-have if you want to create a beautiful rainbow buttercream ombre effect. Have some luscious buttercream left? Turn your cake into the ultimate masterpiece by popping the buttercream into an icing bag with a star nozzle. You’ll then be able to have fun piping a rope boarder or some rosettes around the top of your cake.

2. Chocolate Based Decorations

Does anything beat decadent chocolate?! We reckon it’s one of the best decorative tools you can use when it comes to baking. Melt some down and create a drip effect around the edges of a cake or drizzle it over the tops of biscuits.


You could make some chocolate shards as a cool cake topper or add chocolate brushstrokes to the sides and top of your iced cake for a professional-looking finish. There’s also the option of adding a little coloured food gel to melted white chocolate to create rainbow-hued brushstrokes.


Feeling extra fancy? Have a go at creating a chocolate mirror glaze by combining melted chocolate with sugar, double cream and gelatine.

3. Fondant

Speaking of fondant, it’s a brilliant decorating tool when used correctly. You’ll want to make sure you knead it well before you roll it. Use a little cornflour or icing sugar to stop it from sticking to your kitchen surfaces.


Roll your fondant icing out to a nice, even thickness and fold it over a rolling pin to help lift it onto your cake. You can then use a pizza cutter or similar tool to cut away the excess around the base of the cake.


Fondant can also be used for modelling little decorations, from pretty flowers to figures of animals or even people. Lay them out on greaseproof paper overnight to dry before arranging them on top of your cake.

4. Multi-tier Cakes

Ready to level up from your basic two-tiered sponge cake? It couldn’t be easier to add another layer if you have some good cake stacking know-how. Dowels are a brilliant tool for keeping multi-layered cakes steady and can easily be bought at cook shops or online.


Cake boards are also essential for stacking cakes as they help you lift and move your layers. Before you begin stacking, place the next layer of your cake onto a cake board. It can then go on top of your dowelled cake. If you’ve stacked them correctly and used enough dowels, your tiers can be as heavy or as light as you like.


Now that you’ve got to grips with our simple baking recipes and decorating techniques, it’s time to test your baking knowledge with our quiz! Your score will also reveal if you’re ready to apply for the next series of the Great British Bake Off and show off your baking skills to the world. 


1. What’s the missing ingredient in this list to create shortcrust pastry? Plain Flour, Caster Sugar, Unsalted Butter, Water.

a)       Egg White

b)       Salt

c)       Egg Yolk

d)       Vanilla Essence


2.  What does blind baking mean?

a)       Preheating the tins before adding the dough or mixture

b)       Baking something in the oven without knowing what temperature it should be at

c)       Baking a cake in the oven before adding the icing

d)       Baking a pastry base in the oven before adding the filling


3.  How do you test if your bread dough has proved correctly?

a)       Knock the dough on a hard surface to see if it bounces back

b)       Make a small indent in the dough, checking to see if it slowly springs back

c)       Listen to it to see if it has stopped bubbling

d)       Pop a skewer into the centre to see if it comes out clean


4. What’s the melting point of sugar?

a)       160°C

b)       100°C

c)       120°C

d)       200°C


5.  How do you make a mirror glaze?

a)      Melt and mix chocolate, caster sugar, double cream and gelatine together

b)       Melt and mix chocolate, egg whites, caster sugar and single cream together

c)       Whisk single cream, gelatine and caster sugar together and microwave

d)       Whisk buttercream, water and gelatine together


Ready for the answers?

  1. C – Egg Yolk
  2. D – Baking a pastry case in the oven before adding the filling
  3. B – Make a small indent in the dough, checking to see if it slowly springs back
  4. A – 160
  5. A – Melt and mix chocolate, caster sugar, double cream and gelatine together

Want to have a go at some more simple sweet and savoury creations? Make good use of those basic, must-have skills by trying out some of our other tasty baking recipes. You’ll find mouth-watering options for every ability, plus a whole load of hints and tips to help you build on your skills.