It’s time to throw the store bought cake to one side and take on the challenge of baking fresh, delicious, moist, airy creations for your family and friends. My 10 secrets to baking will help you conquer all fear and be the best baker on your street.
1. All good cakes start with accurate measuring
It may seem obvious, but the quantities are there for a reason – be accurate and you’ll be on the way to a great tasting cake! A cake is a chemistry experiment, and the quantities are perfect to get the right ‘reaction’.
2. The order means everything
Whatever cake you are making, be sure to follow the order of adding ingredients carefully. If you are making a butter cake (e.g. pound cakes/most layer cakes) make sure you first cream together the fat (e.g. butter) and sugar – this is how the cakes get their soft, fine texture and moistness – then add the eggs one by one mixing thoroughly between additions before incorporating the dry ingredients whilst alternating with a liquid e.g. buttermilk.
3. Know your oven
Since starting to bake professionally, I have moved house twice – that’s two new ovens to get used to after I had just finally got to know the last one. My advice would be to get an oven thermometer to prevent an under or over done cake. Also, bake the cake on your middle shelf and gently close the oven door – slamming will cause the cake to lose air bubbles. To check if the cake is done, press lightly on the centre and if it springs back, it’s done. Or a skewer should come out clean.
4. Use the correct tin sizes
Your recipe calls for two 8″ tins, and you have a 10″ tin. What do you do? You buy two 8″ tins. Tin sizes is specified in the recipe because a cake increases in volume 50 to 100 percent during baking; if your tin is too small, the cake will overflow, if it’s too big, your cake will look flatter.
5. Consider the colour of your cake tins
You’re probably thinking, why on earth does the colour of the pan matter? Believe me – it does! Glass or dark non-stick tins usually require a 25 degree reduction in baking temperature versus silver-coloured aluminium tins.
6. Use the right flour for the recipe
The flour in your recipe is that flour for a reason. Different types of flour have different percentages of protein – the more protein, the more gluten.
7. DON’T open the oven door too much
I know that sometimes it is hard to resist – but the more you open the oven door during the baking, the more the temperature of the oven will drop meaning an under baked cake.
8. Don’t take too long to cover a cake
If you are covering a cake in sugar paste or fondant, the longer it takes, the more the paste will dry out and the more likely you are to get cracks. Try to avoid re-rolling the icing. Rolling it out to the correct thickness first time will give you the best results.
9. Make the cake perfect at every stage
It may seem obvious, but don’t try to cut corners. Bake the cake as perfect as you can, roll the icing as perfect as you can, spend time smoothing out the icing for a flawless look and to avoid bubbles. It’s a hell of a lot more difficult to fix things later down the line
10. Know your limits
I’m not being patronising here at all. But I’ve been asked to do many different and out there cake designs and it’s easy just to say ‘Yeah, no problem’ but sometimes, things are just out of your reach. Push yourself, definitely push yourself. But if you push yourself too much, then it could cause you to stress out rather than enjoying the creative experience!