Few things in life are better than a well-baked cake. Fluffy, spongy, and moist, these sweet treats warm your soul and tickle your taste buds like nothing else. And now, thanks to COVID and the never-ending lockdown situation, there’s never been a better excuse to break out your apron and get baking.
Indeed, when coronavirus first hit in March last year, hashtags like ‘quarantinebaking’ and ‘stressbaking’ were getting tens of thousands of hits every week! Are you jumping on the bandwagon and want some cake baking tips to help deliver the goods?
You’re in the right place. Keep reading for 7 expert tips on how to bake a cake like the pros.
1. Read the Recipe
Some chefs are accustomed to going ‘off-piste’ in the kitchen. They’ll mix and match ingredients and processes instead of following any recipe to a tee. With a bit of this and a bit of that, they end up with their own version of the original dish.
This is an awesome approach to cooking that can deliver delicious results. However, it can backfire when it comes to baking! Trust us, even minor alterations to the original recipe can have significant effects on the end product.
That’s why we recommend sticking to the cake recipe in question if you’re still finding your feet as a baker. Read it through before you start, get all the ingredients together, and then follow it from start to finish for the best shot at baking an amazing cake.
2. Prepare Your Pans
You’ve spent ages reading the recipe and preparing your cake mixture. You’ve mixed, whisked, and beaten the ingredients to perfection, poured it into the cake tin, and popped it all into the preheated oven. You’ve waited with bated breath and a grumbling tummy, removed it from the oven at the right time, and then…the cake sticks to the tin.
We’ve all been there. You’re forced to spend 20 minutes prying it from the tin, desperately trying to stop it from falling apart.
There’s nothing worse, so do yourself a favor and prepare your cake pans beforehand! Grease them, coat them in flour, and pop some parchment sheets in the bottom to avoid this fate.
3. Avoid Mixing Too Much
It’s called a cake mix for a reason, right? Regardless of the exact cake that you’re making, the recipe’s sure to involve a helluva lot of mixing, whisking, and folding. You can’t afford to go overboard though…
Baking beginners often overmix their ingredients. This might not sound too problematic, but it can actually have a big impact on the cake’s texture. The gluten in the flour goes into overdrive and creates a denser, tougher, chewier sponge as a result.
The recipe may say something along the lines of “mix until it’s just combined”. That’s your cue to limit the amount of stirring your do! Stop mixing as soon as the dry ingredients are fully combined into the wet ones.
4. Add Ripe Banana for Moistness
Moistness is one undeniable characteristic of any high-quality cake. After all, nobody likes a dry sponge! It should be spongey, succulent, and leave you desperate for another taste.
The length of time your cake spends in the oven plays a crucial role here of course. But another lesser-known way to make a moist sponge is to mash some ripe banana into the mixture! It’s one of the best cake baking hacks we know for chocolate cakes, for instance, which leave the oven spongier, moister, and better-tasting every time.
5. Become an Oven Master
You can put all the love and care in the world into your cake mix. Get the all-important oven part wrong, though, and you’ll never reap the full reward for your efforts. There are two key things to keep in mind here:
First, you have to preheat it. Putting your cake mix into a cold oven means it gets cooking straight away. Likewise, leaving batter on the countertop while your oven heats up can reduce the efficacy of any baking powder in the mixture.
Second, you must resist the temptation to open the oven door to take a look at the cake while it’s baking! Even the slightest gap will allow the heat to escape. This can cause the cake to collapse and impact the amount of time it takes to cook properly.
6. Check It’s Cooked
There’s a big difference between a moist cake and an undercooked one. It’s true that some recipes call for a gooey center, but most of the time that’s a sure-fire sign the mixture needs longer in the oven. Remember, the last thing you want is to make anyone unwell.
The best way to check whether it’s cooked is to insert and withdraw a toothpick into the middle of the cake. Take a look at the toothpick. If it’s covered in batter, it needs to go back into the oven to cook for longer; if it’s clean, you’re good to go!
7. Cool It Down
Don’t tuck into the freshly-baked cake straight away though. With the cake cooked, it needs time to cool down. Check the recipe to see:
- If you should let it cool in the pan or whether you need to turn it out onto a metal rack first,
- If you need to turn it upside down throughout, and
- How long you need to leave it.
This might sound trivial. Yet it could be the difference between a collapsed cake and a pristine one! Likewise, leave it to cool down for too long and it could stick to the pan.
Don’t Forget These Cake Baking Tips
Baking has always been a popular pastime among culinary-inclined individuals. But it’s skyrocketed in popularity over the last 12 months thanks to COVID-19. With lockdown in place and time on our hands, we’ve all turned to the kitchen for answers!
We hope the tips in this post will help if you’ve been trying to bake the perfect cake. Keep these cake baking tips in mind and you should be one step closer to a splendid sponge in no time. Search ‘baking’ on the website to learn more about making delicious treats now.