8 Baking Tips To Bake the Perfect Cake
8 Baking Tips To Bake the Perfect Cake
Let’s face it no matter how much we may want to be like Martha Stewart, we can’t all bake a perfect cake like her. For those of us who are not like Martha Stewart we often rely on box mixes to allow us to bake what we term a presentable cake, but they are often far from the perfect cake. A perfect cake is probably the most sought after item when it comes to baking; after all we want everybody to look at what we have done and be impressed by it. We want people to think oh I wish I could bake a perfect cake like her.
For many of us the thought of a baking a cake is a bit overwhelming. When it comes to cakes you have all of the measuring, mixing, and sometimes even sifting that you have to do to get things just right. With how many steps can be involved most people look at the recipe and think what can I do to make this process faster. Alerting any cake recipe spells disaster, as baking a cake is more about science than about experimenting.
If you have been overwhelmed with baking the perfect cake or if you have never even tried baking one because it just seems to complicated we are here to fix that. If you pay attention and use the following tips you will soon be on your way to baking the perfect cake every time.
#1 Understand Your Oven.
One of the biggest problems you must tackle when baking a cake is making sure the cake is done. People are constantly battling an underdone or an overdone cake, even when they follow the instructions exactly. The best way to prevent this from happening to you is to understand your oven; you need to know if it is cooking at the proper temperature. To check your oven you will need to use an oven thermometer placed inside your oven. Turn your oven on and heat it to the appropriate temperature. Once the oven is properly heated check that the thermometer is reading the same temperature as the oven.
Placing the cake inside the oven also must be done correctly to ensure it bakes properly. Never place your oven on the top or bottom rack; you want it placed directly in the middle of the oven to prevent overbrowning. When closing the oven door, do so gently; do not allow it to slam shut, as this can cause air bubbles inside the batter to burst resulting in a cake that droops in the middle. To check if your cake is done insert a toothpick inside the center of the cake, it should come out clean. Or you can gently press down on the middle of the cake, if it bounces back into place it is done.
#2 Higher Altitude.
On many boxed mixes you will see they have an adjustment for higher altitudes. The reason for this adjustment is because the higher the altitude the less air pressure. The less air pressure causes cakes to rise higher than normal, plus it dries out the cakes as the liquid tends to evaporate faster. For anybody who is trying to bake the perfect cake above 3,500 feet you need to increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees, increase liquid by 2 tablespoons for each cup of liquid used. You will also want to decrease the amount of sugar by 1 tablespoon for each cup used, baking powder should be decreased by 1/8 of a teaspoon, and overall baking time should be reduced by 5 minutes.
#3 Picking The Right Pan.
When it comes to baking the perfect cake pan size does matter. The reason pan size is important is because during the baking process the cake is going to increase in volume, sometimes as much as 100%. If your pan size is too small the cake is going to flow over the sides and make a huge mess in the oven. Always use the pan sized called for in the recipe.
The color of the pan will also make a big difference when baking. Different colored pans affect how fast or slow the cake is baking. If you use a nonstick dark pan or even a glass pan you need to reduce your baking temperature by 25 degrees, as the pan itself will heat up and cause the cake to overcook. Plain, old silver aluminum pans are the preferred choice for baking the perfect cake.
#4 Using Flour Correctly.
One of the most basic ingredients found inside cakes is flour, so it makes sense that you want to pay close attention to what kind of flour you are using, as well as properly measuring it. First thing to look at is if you are using the right kind of flour for your recipe, as different flours contain different amounts of protein, which affects the end result of your cake. Bread flour has the highest amount of protein, so it is best used for very dense baking items, such as bread. Cake flour has the least amount of proteins and is perfect for light, fluffy cakes, such as angel food cakes. All-purpose flour is right in the middle and can be used to create tender cakes. Pay attention to what your recipe calls for and use the correct flour for the best results.
Most of us read a recipe and see that it calls for one cup of flour. With that in mind we reach for the measuring cups and simply measure out one cup. If you are doing that you need to stop, as when it comes to baking the perfect cake you want to weigh the flour not measure it, so grab your kitchen scale. Weigh accurately measures flour because if it is tightly packed inside the cup you can end up with twice the amount called for, which affects your end result.
#5 Chemistry Is Important.
Baking the perfect cake is a bit of a chemistry experiment. You need precise measurements and every ingredient serves a specific purpose. When following a recipe for a cake it is very important that nothing is left out, as each ingredient interacts with the other ingredients to form a specific task. Flour provides the gluten and thickens up the batter, things like baking soda, called leaveners, provide carbon dioxide bubbles to the batter that expand and make the cake rise, fats provide moisture for the cake, sugar helps absorb moisture, but also enhances flavors, and keeps the cake tender, and eggs are what allows the batter to set.
#6 Mixing Matters.
In order to form the batter you are going to need to mix together all of the ingredients, but you must do so in the correct order. No matter how much you might want to skip a step and throw two things in at once, you need to mix the items in a specific order because of the reactions it creates. Butter cakes get their texture and moistness because you begin by creaming together fat and sugar followed by eggs and then you slowly mix in the dry stuff, while alternating with a liquid. Light, airy cakes start with the eggs being whipped and then folding the eggs into the batter. So to get the perfect cake you have to follow the directions given in each recipe exactly.
#7 Cooling Down Matters.
Once your cake has finished cooking you need to allow it to cool down. To start the cool down process with the cake still in the pan, place on a wire rack and allow to sit for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes, remove the cake from the pan. To easily remove the cake from the pan, place a plate or cookie sheet on top and invert the pan. Gently tap the cake pan until the cake has been released. Angel food cakes are cooled differently, as gravity helps the cake hold its volume. If baking an angel food cake, turn pan upside down over a bottle or use feet that come with the pan to invert the pan.
#8 Decorating The Cake.
Decorating the cake should only be attempted once the cake has completely cooled. When using frosting you want to start with a small amount that has been placed directly on the cake plate and then place the cake on top of it. This will prevent the cake from moving around as you frost it. To frost the cake you will want to use an offset spatula, start with the top, if you have layers, do each top until the entire cake is done. Once the top has been frosted apply a thin layer to the sides to hold all of the crumbs in place. Place inside the freezer for 15 minutes, pull out and finish frosting. Again you will start with the top and then do the sides. Fondant can be used to create a smooth looking cake, but it doesn’t taste as good as it looks!
So now that you know the secrets to baking a perfect cake what are you waiting for? Get out there and start baking!
If you are looking for baking class in Klang Valley
We have several suggestions for you =)
Carol Learning Centre, Taman Permata , Kuala Lumpur
- Little bakers class (2 to 4 years old)
- Fun baking class (5-12 years old)
- Intermediate baking class (adults)
Les Petit Chef, Puchong