How to Bake Potatoes
Most of us enjoy a baked potato on a regular basis and they are a family favorite. The ideal baked potato has a crisp skin on the outside and a soft and fluffy potato in the middle. Opening a hot and still steaming baked potato straight from the oven can be a delicious excitement. And a great baked potato is just waiting for its filling, anything from butter and cheese to a spicy hot chili. Here is how to bake potatoes.
What Potatoes to Use for Baked Potatoes
The choice is seemingly endless, and you can bake any potato that you want to. Stores usually stock ‘baking potatoes’ so it may be that this takes the hassle out of making the wrong choice. Some of it will be down to trial and error and personal taste too, whatever works best for you is the right potato to use. But Russet potatoes have long been the recommended potato that works best for making a perfect baked potato. This is because they are very starchy and additionally the have a thick skin in comparison to other potatoes. The high levels of starch are what gives the finished potato its fluffiest texture. It is not advisable to use waxy potatoes for jacket potatoes such as white, golden or red potatoes. This is because these kinds of potatoes have a close texture which does not give you that creamy potato middle.
How Long to Bake Potatoes
An averaged sized potato will usually take around 1 to 2 hours to cook in the oven. Cooking times will be different depending upon the size of the potato that you are using, the number of potatoes that you are cooking and the temperature of your oven. The simplest way to test if your potatoes have baked to perfection is to poke them with a fork. You should hear the crispy skin crackle as you push through to a really soft middle. If you are short on time, you can always start your potato off cooking in your microwave for a few minutes until it goes a little soft. Then you can finish off cooking it in your oven for a further 40 minutes, again depending on your cooking conditions.
Tips for Perfect Baked Potatoes
- Brush your potatoes. The potatoes that you are just about to cook came straight from the ground. This will usually mean that they will be covered in a layer of dirt that you will want to make sure that you scrub away before you cook with them.
- Dry your potatoes. Once the potatoes are sparkly clean you will need to ensure that you completely dry them. This will be beneficial if you are looking for a crispy finish to the skin of your baked potato. So, ensure to dry your potatoes completely using a clean towel.
- Add oil. You can use any type of oil on the potato skin, but usually Olive oil works the best. You are trying again to give your potato a crispy skin as it adds to the flavor. Simply pop them in a bowl to save on a messy clean up and use your fingers to rub a thick layer of oil all over every potato before you bake.
- Salt your potatoes. Seasoning a baked potato with salt is not just helpful for achieving a great flavor. When you salt a potato, it acts to draw out moisture and helps to give you an even crispier skin.
- Put holes in your potato. If you fail to pierce your potato before you go on to bake them, then they may even explode after they have been in the oven for some time. You will know if you have not done this well enough as your baked potatoes will start to make a whistling noise from inside the oven. Pricking your potatoes all over with a fork will allow the moisture from inside the potato to escape.
- Bake on the rack. Do not put your baking potatoes in a pan or on a tray as you will be preventing the air from circulating around your potatoes. Allowing air to circulate is one of the vital things you can do to get a perfect crispy skin.
- Foil wrap. If you would like a really soft inside on your baked potatoes, you need to wrap them up in foil prior to going into the oven. Foil enables the steam to work on cooking the inside of the potato faster. Remember to allow the potato to breath towards the end of the cooking time if you want a crispy skin.
- Cook on a slow medium heat. It is important to never let your oven get too hot. When this happen, the skin of the potato will cook far too quickly but the inside of the potato stays hard instead of going fluffy. The longer the better but you can not leave the potato in the oven like this if it is too hot.
- Cut the baked potatoes open instantly after you have finished baking. If not, the potatoes will sit on the side and continue to steam on the inside and eventually become really heavy.
Other Ways to Bake Potatoes
It is possible to use your microwave to entirely cook your potatoes without using your oven. This will mean that you will miss out on the crispy skin achieved with oven cooking, but you will have a meal on your plate much quicker. It is also possible to bake potatoes in your crockpot on the lowest setting for around 10 hours. Using the same method above start cooking your baked potatoes in the morning and return home to impeccably cooked jacket potatoes.
The humble jacket potato is a wonderful base food for a number of various toppings, and it can be personalized very easily to your own taste. You can keep it simple and just butter it up to use as a side dish, or you might want to create a full dinner out of the potato itself by adding cheese, coleslaw, chilli and more.
- The perfect baked potato – BBC Food