One of the hardest things to master in cooking is learning how to bake. Baking requires time, patience, and practice. Try using these tips to help you learn either how to bake or make yourself a better baker. If you stick to these tips and practice them, you should be able to bake bread, cakes, and pastries with ease.

Consider recipes to be guidelines rather than rules. Feel free to branch out and switch up the spices or add an extra ingredient. Before long you will be compiling your own personal collection of altered recipes that are better than the original thing. Not only will you also be able to impress your friends with unique dishes, but you will become a better cook as you experiment with changing recipes.

Try to keep your spices and herbs in a dark, cool area of your kitchen. Many factors can cause herbs and spices to lose their flavor, especially humidity and light. Another little-known fact is that ground spices tend to lose their flavor quicker than whole spices. Spices that are kept whole can keep their flavor for about three, four, or five years. If you keep them correctly, they will last a lot longer.

Here is a tip that will thicken your sauce quickly and easily so that all your hard work will have not been wasted. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together 1 tbsp water and 2 tbsp corn starch. Continually stir the sauce while adding corn starch slowly. When adding, do so gradually and continue to stir so as to avoid making your sauce too thick.

Make sure that when you are making your pasta, not use oil in the water upon cooking. This will reduce the risk that the pasta will stick to the sauce, which can ruin the quality of your meal. Avoid oil in water when you are cooking pasta for maximum results.

If you want to spice up your meal, add peppers. Peppers will not only give the meal that you are making flavor but will increase the spice intensity to appeal to your taste buds. Try different types and variations of peppers so that you can hone in on the peppers that you prefer.

Beans stored for a longer period of time need to be checked for insect damage or mold. Instead of visually looking at each bean put them in a bowl of cold water. Use only the ones sinking to the bottom as those floating are either suffer from insect damage or mold.

When you need to season your food, add your seasoning a little bit at a time instead of all at once. Depending on the type of food, this can be an excellent way to improve the flavor and extend the seasoning.

Although there are many intricacies to baking, using these tips should allow you to become an excellent baker. There is no doubt that baking is a difficult cooking skill to master. So take your time, and do not be discouraged by minor setbacks. Practice these tips, and eventually you will get it perfect.