Chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, authors of the new book Ottolenghi: The Cookbook
, are aware that there are many variables in baking—but the thing they notice trips people up most often are baking times. Home cooks tend to underbake breads and to overbake chocolate cakes and brownies, say Ottolenghi and Tamimi. Aside from learning from practice (the more you bake, the more you'll be able to recognize a just-done triple-fudge brownie), a couple of tricks to try: Tap the bottom of a loaf pan to see if bread is ready; it should sound hollow. For brownies, baking teacher Alice Medrich always uses a wooden toothpick or skewer to test for doneness
, because batter and crumbs tend not to stick to metal cake testers.