As somebody who is obsessed with baking, I have spent countless hours in the kitchen, so when it comes to kitchen safety I admit I’ve learnt the hard way. Practicing new techniques, recipes and equipment while exciting, has come at a price and I can prove that with the scars on my knuckles and arms. I like to think of them as my war wounds that could tell a thousand stories.
However, on a serious note with 26% of us feeling inspired to get baking since the latest series of GBBO it’s becoming more important to raise awareness of what potential hazards could be faced, especially when I read that almost 65% of Brit Bakers have injured themselves whilst baking. So when I was asked by National Accident Helpline to partner with them on a post to raise awareness of Accident Awareness Week I jumped at the opportunity.
The most common baking blunders are known as scalds, burns and cuts but it’s not always obvious what type of bake can cause these injuries, so I’ve put together a list of my Top 10 Hazardous Bakes and provided advice on how to avoid injury to yourself and those around you.
For more information about Accident Awareness Week (31st October – 6th November) visit: https://www.national-accident-helpline.co.uk/accident-claims/accident-awareness-week
It’s so easy to burn yourself when baking caramel or toffee, but you can take steps to look out for yourself. The heated sugar is prone to splatter, make sure you wear long sleeves, an apron and an oven glove when handling the pan. You could keep a bowl of cold water nearby to plunge your hand into should the sugar splatter you at all.
Honeycomb starts life as a form of caramel so you should be extra cautious when stirring the pot. However, once the bicarbonate of soda is added, the caramel expands to almost double the size. To avoid a molten honeycomb overflow it is vital to ensure the pot you are using is big enough.
Baking donuts requires plunging your risen balls of dough into cooking oil at temperatures of up to 191oC. Temperatures this high can easily start fires or cause serious third degree burns. To cook them carefully you should always add the oil to a cold, clean and dry fryer. Avoid letting water come into contact with the bubbling oil at all costs as this will make the oil splatter, which can burn the skin.
It goes without saying that nuts and knifes aren’t the best combination. But you can prevent nasty accidents by using other methods. You could pour them into a zip lock bag and crush them with a rolling pin, or blitz them in a food processor. Should you only have a knife to hand, keep your fingers away from the blade by placing the palm of your hand at the top of the knife to keep the nut you are chopping stable.
I wish the tiny scars on my knuckles and finger tips told much more exciting tales but truth be told, the majority of them are down to a cheese grater. I love making lemon curd and enjoy zesting citrus, but I’m yet to go through the process without scraping my fingers. The best way to avoid such incidence would be to wear silicone gloves and hold the citrus fruit with your knuckles facing away from the grater blades.
There’s a good reason we use one when melting sugar toppings for Crème Brûlée and browning meringue pies, and that’s because they blast out intense heat to do the job in seconds. This kind of intense heat is not something you want in contact with skin or any loose clothing. It is key you ensure the safety lock is on when not in use and that any sleeves are rolled up, tea towels are removed from your working area and aprons are tied tightly.
When making dumplings steam may try to escape by spitting out. Check on them at the wrong moment and this hot steam could spit out onto your face or neck. Burns caused by steam can be really serious, as steam can actually penetrate the skin, leaving lifelong scars. To prevent this from happening always open the lid of the steamer away from you and use oven gloves and tongs to move the dumplings around.
Making marshmallow much like other sugar syrup recipes is an easy process, but you need to take care to prevent injury. Under no circumstance should the sugar be touched directly. Instead use a sugar thermometer and always use heat-safe utensils like wooden spoons to prevent burning your hands on metal handles. When you transfer the syrup into your electric mixer bowl pour slowly, to avoid hot splatters and raise the speed slowly until it’s well combined.
Using Freestanding Mixers
They’re beautiful kitchen top accessories and the perfect kitchen assistant, but in series 3 of Great British Bake Off Bake Off Winner John Whaite showed how hazardous electric mixers can be when he sliced is finger open mid-way through his Strudel Show Stopper. Quite often recipes will call for you to add ingredients while the mixer is still going, so it is vital that you act cautiously and keep your fingers as far away from the blade as possible. You can also use a spoon or a long cocktail stick (for colour or flavor pastes) where possible to add ingredients.
Adding a little alcohol to a dish is a great way to boost flavour and if you’re feeling flashy doing this via flambé can also provide a great source of dinner party entertainment. But you should never add the alcohol directly from the bottle, as flames could enter the bottle causing it to explode. Instead add the alcohol to the pan off the heat. TV Chefs demonstrate flambé by tilting the pan over a gas flame to ignite the alcohol, but they’re professionals so this method is to be avoided at all costs. When returning the pan to the flame, make sure you stand back as the flame will be higher than you think. Turning off your extractor fan is also advised as this can draw flames up. After 30 seconds the flame should have died out naturally leaving you free to get in closer and serve.
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