What team are you on? Team cakey, team chewy or team fudgey?
Brownies may seem like an easy thing to make, but they’re actually probably one of the hardest things to get bang on the way you want them. I always say that recipes fall into one of three camps: Cakey, Fudgy or Chewy. There are certain things you can do to ensure that your bake is phenomenal and just as you expect. Follow my tips!
1. What do you want?
Picking the right recipe can make the world of difference. Here’s what to look out for…
Cakey brownies: look for a recipe that creams together the butter and sugar (for lightness), has a higher proportion of flour and includes a raising agent such as baking powder; cakey brownies will also often use cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate.
Fudgy brownies: for these, the recipe will have a very high proportion of melted chocolate, sugar and butter, very little flour and no raising agent.
Chewy brownies: the recipe will often contain both melted chocolate and cocoa powder, more eggs (or an extra egg yolk), oil instead of (or as well as) butter and may use a combination of white and brown sugars (the brown sugar contributes to the ‘chewiness’).
2. Line your pan
Use non-stick baking parchment and leave enough of it overhanging so that you can easily lift the brownies out of the pan once they are baked.
3. Pick your baking dish
The pan you use can affect how long the brownies take to bake – they will bake faster in a metal pan than in a glass dish! Always use the same size pan as specified in the recipe as using a different sized pan will alter the bake time.
4. Use room temperature eggs
Cold eggs will be more difficult to mix in to the batter and will result in a heavier, denser brownie.
5. Want a crust?
The key to a crisp, papery crust on your brownies is to whisk the eggs and sugar together until they are very thick, pale and at least tripled in volume before folding in the other ingredients; this creates a meringue-like layer that rises to the top and becomes crisp during baking. This technique also results in a delectable light yet fudgy texture.
6. Check on the brownies!
Halfway through the stipulated baking time, check your brownies and every five minutes from then. Just a couple of minutes can mean the difference between fudgy, gooey brownies and overcooked, dry, crumbly ones. Be aware that they will continue to cook a little after they have been removed from the oven.
Fudgy brownies are ready when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with moist crumbs on it but no wet batter. If it comes out clean they are overdone. If you do happen to overbake them, top them with ganache or chocolate fudge icing so they don’t taste too dry. Or crumble them into ice cream or a sundae or use them as the base for a delicious trifle.
7. Always allow the brownies to cool completely…
… and preferably refrigerate them for a bit) before slicing them. That way they won’t fall apart and you’ll be able to get clean, neat slices.
8. Brownies are infinitely customizable.
To make your own variations you can try…
… Mixing in chopped nuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, desiccated coconut, fresh or frozen raspberries or cherries, mashed banana, pretzels, chopped chocolate bars, leftover Christmas or Easter chocolate or broken biscuits.
… Topping your brownies with chocolate ganache, mousse or cream cheese, vanilla, peppermint or chocolate icing.
… Adding grated orange zest, cinnamon, dried chilli flakes, rum, Baileys or peppermint to the brownie batter for a hint of extra flavour.
… Swirling the batter with dollops of caramel, cheesecake mixture, jam, peanut butter, nutella or marshmallow.
Hannah is the brains behind Domestic Gothess; a blog about her obsession with amazing baking recipes, creativity, crafts and Ringo the Jack Russell! Be sure to check out her blog (it’s awesome) and follow her on Instagram & Twitter.
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