5 Helpful Resources That Can Take Your Baking To The Next Level

As both a science and an art, baking can present many challenges. From understanding the importance of using room temperature ingredients to perfecting the craftsmanship of pastry design, learning how to bake requires skill and patience. Here, in no particular order, are sources dedicated to helping home cooks elevate their confectionery expertise.

Starting off the list at #1 is Zoe Bakes. Through her cookbooks, BluePrint baking classes, and Instagram and YouTube videos, the brand's founder, Zoe Francois, guides aspiring bakers through the processes of preparing everything from cookies to cakes. Via her Amazon store, she offers a wide array of kitchen essentials, including such staples as mixers and rolling pins to more advanced tools like pastry tubes and gold leaf transfer sheets.

Francois studied pastry at The Culinary Institute of America, and early in her career worked for chef and TV personality Andrew Zimmern. In partnership with Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., she has co-authored The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book series. Her recipes have been featured in Better Homes & Gardens, Bake from Scratch, Fine Cooking, and Midwest Living.

In the #2 spot is Art of the Pie, a blog filled with tips and hints for both seasoned and novice pastry makers. Founded by Kate McDermott, the site features recipes for sweet and savory pies and tarts including apple, cherry, winter vegetable, and angel food. Elsewhere, McDermott's popular workshops teach techniques on how to make fruit fillings and gluten-free treats, as well as dough by hand or in a food processor.

McDermott is an author and James Beard finalist for her critically acclaimed book Art Of The Pie: A Practical Guide To Homemade Crusts, Fillings, And Life. Other honors include a starred review from Publishers Weekly and an International Association of Culinary Professionals nomination. She has appeared on QVC: In the Kitchen with David, Hallmark Home and Family, and in the documentary, Mom & Apple Pie.

Coming in at #3 is Kitchen Butterfly, also known as Ozoz Sokoh, a Nigerian food explorer, culinary anthropologist, and food historian. Her site includes tips on baking with silicone and how to incorporate ingredients such as Guinness and spelt into recipes. Popular dishes include Double Chocolate Oven Cake and quick breads such as muffins and scones.

A highlight of the blog is the Food School, which teaches kitchen basics like dry roasting nuts, cooking with vanilla bean, and making breadcrumbs. HuffPost named Sokoh to its list of twenty-four black food bloggers and chefs to follow on Instagram. She is the creator and co-host of the World Jollof Rice Day Festival, which celebrates the traditional West African dish.

At #4 is So, How's It Taste?, which spotlights the culinary experiences of Nashville, Tennessee resident Leah Short. A popular feature is her Cookie Baking Day, where she and her mother bake several batches of cookies during the holiday season. Tropical Chewies, Pumpkin Snickerdoodles, Walnut-Topped Ginger Drops, and Almond Macaroons are among the favorites.

Short is a member of the KitchenAid Culinary Council, serves as a brand ambassador for Goo Goo Cluster and Hamilton Beach, and is a Better Homes & Gardens Insider. Her photography can be found on Foodgawker, TasteSpotting, Healthy Aperture, and Potluck at Oh My Veggies. She also documents her visits to local restaurants, festivals, and farmers' markets.

Rounding out the list at #5 is Gluten Free Cuppa Tea, founded by Becky Excell, a London-based gluten-free recipe creator, food photographer, and blogger. She launched the site after an IBS diagnosis spurred her to create new recipes to share with her family. Among the traditional desserts she has reimagined are vanilla cupcakes filled with strawberry jam, blondies, and red velvet cookies.

Many of Excell's recipes feature frequently asked questions and troubleshooting tips, as well as options for vegan or dairy-free treats. Her YouTube channel highlights weekly meal planning, food inspiration, and cooking demonstrations. Vuelio named the site its number one baking blog, and it has been featured in Buzzfeed, The Independent, and Hello Magazine.