Image Credit: Joe Lingeman

12 Secrets for Baking Amazing Desserts, from a Professional Pastry Chef


Image Credit: Joe Lingeman

We asked Kyle Bartone, executive pastry chef of Eataly Downtown in New York City, for his best baking-on-the-job tips and techniques — that anyone can still use in their home kitchen. Here’s what he told us.

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman

Measure ingredients by weight, not by volume.

Ditch your measuring cups for a digital scale. Measuring by weight is especially important when making baked goods like bread that rely on precise ratios.

Image Credit: Emma Christensen

Add milk powder to batter or dough to add richness and promote browning.

“Milk powder is one of those secret ingredients professional pastry chefs use to amp up their desserts,” says Bartone. Try adding a tablespoon to your next cookie recipe.

Image Credit: Martí Sans/Stocksy

Use cocoa powder (not flour) to prevent chocolate doughs from sticking to countertops.

And as a bonus, your baked goods will have an extra bit of chocolate flavor.

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman

Keep layer cakes moist by soaking them in simple syrup before assembling.

Soaks are handy with cakes that need to be baked in advance will be sitting out for a while. Make a soaking syrup with one part sugar and one part water.

Image Credit: Sarah Crowley

Use plastic wrap instead of parchment paper when blind baking pies.

This will help prevent wrinkles in the dough. However, make sure you’re using plastic wrap that’s oven-safe — and don’t use it for super-high heat applications, like broiling.

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman

Prevent doughs from spreading in the oven by freezing them for at least 15 minutes before baking.

This chilling time will firm up the butter so it doesn’t melt too quickly and deform your pastries. 

Image Credit: mommyknows { Kim Becker } on Flickr

Try swapping vanilla beans for vanilla bean powder.

“Vanilla bean powder is made by grinding up the entire pod, not just the seeds,” explains Bartone. “This makes it much cheaper, and you still get a wonderful vanilla flavor and beautiful specks.”

Image Credit: Emma Christensen

Master meringues with a secret ingredient: lemon juice.

“Whenever I whip egg whites, I rub my mixing bowl with a bit of fresh lemon juice to break down any residual fat stuck on the bowl,” says Bartone. 

Image Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani

Swap all-purpose flour for cake flour if you want an airier cake.

Cake flour has less protein than all-purpose flour, meaning your cake will develop less gluten — and less gluten means a more tender cake.

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman

Use acetate paper when you want extra shiny and smooth chocolate garnishes.

Next time you make chocolate bark, try setting it on acetate paper instead of parchment. It’ll give the bark a beautiful shine and smooth finish.

Image Credit: Apartment Therapy

Invest in an oven thermometer.

Oven temperatures aren’t always accurate. So instead of trusting the dial on your oven, use the oven thermometer as a guide and adjust your heat dial up or down.

Image Credit: Joe Lingeman

Watch your ingredient temperatures — especially when it comes to eggs.

“Most recipes call for room-temperature eggs because it prevents creamed butter from getting cold and seizing up,” explains Bartone. 

For more cooking tips, visit