Before blogging you some of my delicious recipes, I thought it’d be useful giving you some little tips to cake baking… You will enjoy your cake and have fun doing it, I promise!
So here we go:
1. Weight, don’t measure, the ingredients
If you don’t have a good kitchen digital scale, it’s time to get one! To weigh is the only accurate way to measure your ingredients. I strongly recommend that you avoid measuring jugs/cups or whatever like that!
Also, if you want to make a bigger or smaller cake than the recipe accounts for, you can easily find recipe converters online. These calculators help you to adjust the ingredients accordingly, so you avoid measurement mistake which will cost you your perfect cake.
2. Temperature and timing
Pay attention to the recipes when it’s written that your butter and eggs should be at room temperature! Do you know why this is important? Because when the ingredients are cold they often need extra mixing time which means more air into the batter, while warm ingredients require less mixing time. On the other side, the heat generated from this process may make the components melt or soften before needed… So the secret is to get the balance right!
It is also really important to verify the temperature of your kitchen, because this can seriously influence how your ingredients behave.
3. Good results start in your mixing bowl
A cake is essentially a chemistry experiment: some ingredients are mixed together in a specific order to cause reactions that produce specific effects.
So no matter which cake you’re baking, take care to follow the recipe instruction precisely. Also the order and method described really counts when cake baking.
Don’t underestimate the importance of your mixing method.
When mixing your batter, what you’re looking for is to blend all the ingredients so that they are evenly combined. The most important thing is to incorporate air into your batter because this is what gives a great rise and a perfect crumb to your cake! No need to say that a whisk is the best utensil to use!
For what concerns the mixing methods, there are basically two main techniques:
creaming method: you beat the fat (butter, for example) to create an emulsion first and then you aerate it with a water component (eggs). When using this method, sometimes you will need to add a chemical leavener (e.g. baking powder) to obtain the rise and texture desired;
foaming method: this method relies on eggs or egg whites to provide the necessary lift in the mixture, with the egg white providing the structure and the egg yolk providing the softness.
N.B: in both methods, the flour is added at the end to avoid the development of gluten.
4. Choose the proper tin size (and color)
In your recipe you read that you will need two 20 cm round cake tins, but you only have 16 cm tins… What to do? Go get two 20 cm tins!
There is a reason why the tin size is specified in each recipes, and it is because a cake increases in volume 50 to 100 percent during baking!
Also the color is important: glass or dark nonstick tins usually require a 25 degree reduction in baking temperature versus silver-colored aluminum tins.
5. Baking (know your oven)
First of all, it could be useful to get an oven thermometer, so you are sure that your oven is calibrated correctly. Always bake the cake in the middle of the oven (too close to the top or bottom can cause overbrowning). Gently close the oven door (a hard slam can release air bubbles trapped in the batter) and don’t open it every 5 mins because in this way you play with the temperature inside the oven and the time for baking your cake can definitely change!
But how do you know when it’s done? Lightly press the center of the cake: if it springs back, it’s done. Another way to check for doneness is inserting a wooden toothpick or a knife deeply in the middle of the cake: it should come out clean.
Each of the basic components of a cake (sugar, butter, flour and eggs), have an important role in the baking process and consequently in how your cake will turn out. It may be useful to know some common issues that arise when baking and why they occur:
low rise: not enough air incorporated into the mixture during whisking or eggs heated too quickly;
uneven shape: the temperature of the oven was not regulated or the oven rack was not level;
crust too dark: too much sugar used or the temperature was too high;
cracked surface: too much flour, the wrong flour, over mixed batter or again the temperature was too high;
dense and dry: too much sugar, eggs heated too quickly or temperature too low.
6. Give your cake a cool down
Cool cakes in their tins on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Once cooled, run a knife around the edges, place a plate on top, invert the pan, and gently tap or shake it to release the cake. Remember that before soaking a sponge or piping a cream or a ganache in the cake, it needs to be cold!
Wow, this was a long post!! I hope I haven’t been too boring… But now you’re ready to conquer your cake!
Have it a go at yourself and let me know how it goes!!
Enjoy your day, and remember: you can’t buy happiness but you can buy a cake. And it’s kinda the same thing!