Questions for John Baricelli: How Far Ahead Can I Mix Batters Before Baking?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

John Baricelli of the new PBS television show Everyday Baking asked us for your baking questions. It’s Baking Week here at The Kitchn, and John has answers to your good questions. Here’s the second of five readers’ baking questions. Reader OneWallKitchen asks:

Q: I like to do as much prep work as possible before a party or big project, and I always wonder how far I can push recipes ahead of schedule.

For instance, I’ve been told that you should cook batters containing double-acting leaveners right away to make the most out of the leavener, and I’ve been told by someone else that those same batters can sit, even in the fridge overnight, without suffering much.

I understand the science and logic behind the first person’s direction, but I’m suspicious about the second person’s. I know it’s not as urgent to bake the batter as it would be with only a single-action leavener, but is the second person correct? Can the batter sit around for a while?

A: Whenever I have a large party, I write out my menu and list all the ingredients I will need for each recipe. Then I write out which items can be prepped one or even two days ahead. Then within reason, I execute all my recipes. Cookies, creams, custards, and so on can all be prepared way ahead of time.

When it comes to batters, does it make sense to do it ahead? We here at SoNo Baking Company make muffins every other day so we are not making every muffin every day. We get good results with the baking powder but are we getting the best results? I know for a fact that it is very common to make batters, like a muffin, ahead of time. But common sense tells me you would get better results if you made and baked the same day.

Pick and choose what prep you are going to do ahead. Maybe it turns out that the batter is made the day of your party while other recipes are prepared the day before. A double acting powder reacts once to moisture, and then again with heat.

Thanks John!

Also, we are taking questions for author Lisa Yockelson on baking with chocolate. Want fudgy brownies? Problems with your chocolate cakes? Need tips on the right chocolates to buy for baking? Ask Lisa…