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We’re women of many talents. We can style the hell out of a pair of wide-leg pants and we can jump rope for days. But much to our chagrin, baking is not one of those talents. That’s why we were so psyched to chat with Dana Shultz, the mastermind behind the Minimalist Baker blog and an awesome new cookbook, Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking. Here, a few of her tips for the culinarily challenged.

minimalist mixer

Be prepared

When it comes to baking semi-successfully, it’s all about preparation. In terms of equipment, Shultz suggests every wannabe baker have “a sifter, a mixer (stand or handheld), mixing bowls, wooden spoons, rubber spatula and measuring cups.” For ingredients, her pantry is always stocked with basic flours (gluten-free blends), sugars (organic cane and coconut) and dairy-free milks, as well as “flaxseed for flax eggs, vanilla extract, sea salt, baking soda and baking powder.”

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minimalist prep

Follow the recipe

You’re a wiz on the fly, but unlike cooking, where improvisation is encouraged, it’s much more important in baking to follow recipes closely. Especially if you’re just starting out, Shultz recommends sticking to the script. “With baking, you can't expect to swap out half the ingredients, not follow the instructions closely, and expect it to turn out.” Noted.

minimalist biscuits

If you're going to swap ingredients, do it the smart way

According to Shultz, it’s super easy to make simple swaps to make recipes less guilt-inducing. The key is resisting the urge to swap every unhealthy ingredient. “Consider what the most important thing is: making it gluten free, or reducing sugar for instance--and go from there.” Other replacements include coconut oil for butter, flax eggs for chicken eggs, coconut sugar or maple syrup for white sugar, and a mix of almond flour, oat flour and gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour. Just don’t do it all in the same recipe.

minimalist brownies

Have a few go-to recipes

Since you’re probably not going to want to jump right into baking with something super complicated like a soufflé, Shultz recommends having a few recipes in your arsenal that are easy to make but also really delicious. Her go-tos are 5-ingredient Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Truffles, 2-ingredient Dark Chocolate Truffles and No Bake Vegan Brownies with Chocolate Ganache. And with that, our mouths are officially watering.

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