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Is there a secret to making great cake? You bet your spatula it is!!
When I first began baking I went thru a period of time when it seemed like every cake I baked came out sinking in the middle. After much trial and error I narrowed down the problem and now my cakes are coming out of the oven looking perfect. Hopefully this list will help you avoid the aggravation I experienced……..
1. Use a good recipe
For guaranteed results you need to follow baking recipes exactly. Use recipes you trust that have been tried and tested. Be cautious when getting recipes from the internet that do not have reviews or ratings. Your cake will only be as good as the recipe you use.
2. Use the correct pan and line it well
Recipes produce a certain amount of batter and using the wrong size baking pans can result in a spill over in the oven or a cake that is too thin and doesn’t bake evenly.
If you want to use a different size pan than what is called for make sure to use the proper amount of batter.Most of us know the importance of greasing and dusting our pans with flour but don’t add too much fat to the pan or you will fry the sides of the cake. Adding parchment paper to the pan makes my cakes release easily for perfect edges.
3. Preheat the oven
Putting a cake in an oven that is not hot enough will affect the way it rises. Convection ovens with their fans can cause a cake to dry slightly so for a moister cake I recommend using a conventional oven or the conventional setting on your convection oven.
4. Be accurate with measurements
Make sure you use the exact measurements and ingredients called for in your recipe. You can’t just add more baking powder if you want your cake to rise higher or substitute self-rising flour for plain. Use measuring spoons and cups to ensure accuracy, don’t use your silverware or coffee cup.
5. Make sure ingredients are the correct temperature
Most recipes call for butter and eggs to be at room temperature. Butter taken straight from the fridge will not cream well and cold eggs can cause the batter to curdle.
6. Get as much air into the cake as you can
Cream the butter and sugar until the mixture becomes lighter in texture and color. This increases the air and volume, resulting in a lighter cake.
Sifting together the dry ingredients also adds air and makes them easier to mix in. Don’t be tempted to over mix or mix at a high speed, this will knock out the air and result in a heavy cake.
7. Immediately place cake in the oven
The raising agent begins working as soon as it contacts the ‘wet’ ingredients so for better rising results your cake mixture should go straight into the oven.
8. Place cake on the correct shelf and keep oven door closed
For even cooking cakes generally do best when placed on the middle shelf.
Once the cake goes in the oven, avoid opening the door until it is almost done. If you allow cold air into the oven before the cake has properly set it will likely collapse. This was my problem, I was so anxious I had to take a peek. Big NO-NO! Also when your placing the cake in the oven do it as quickly as possible to avoid letting all the heat out.
9. Use recommended cooking times
If you have used the correct pan and you have a good oven, the timings in the recipe should be accurate. Since ovens do vary, you should check the cake just before the end of the cooking time. A cake tester (or toothpick) inserted in the center should come out dry.
10. Cooling cakes
Most recipes will give instructions for cooling but as a general rule, most cakes are best left for a few minutes and the turned out onto a cooling rack to avoid sweating.
These are just a few suggestions. If you have any tips for making great cakes please comment.