I always found it a challenge to bake cakes from scratch. Most of the time, I used just regular all-purpose flour instead of the more expensive cake flours or made my own cake flour. Sometimes though, I noticed my cakes would be lighter and better than other times. However, I wasn’t sure why until I learned to change some simple ways in how I handled cake recipes that made a difference and discovered these cake baking secrets.
Cake Baking Secrets Start With Organization
Lining up all the ingredients for your recipe is important over just trying to remember what you just read from a printed recipe, card or a cookbook that you may have left in another room when baking is one of those essential cake baking secrets that you may take for granted.
When you have all needed ingredients in front of you, measure them out and set aside. Use the proper measuring cups like one specified for liquid with a spout and another intended for measuring dry ingredients that has a flat, smooth top for leveling off excess. You may think what is the big deal, but there is a difference in regard to accuracy if you’re serious about the success of your cake. Though not dry ingredients, you can add shortening, sour cream, applesauce, and yogurt to measure in this category because they are bulky enough to scrape the top flat for a precise measurement as well.
A trick for measuring out sticky liquids like molasses and corn syrup is greasing the liquid measuring cup first with a little oil before adding either. You can save yourself some effort if you using oil in your recipe, then measure any molasses or corn syrup afterwards is what I do to simplify the process.
Measuring spoons should be measuring spoons, not a part of your silverware. Always measure and level the measuring spoons when using any leavening agents such as baking powder and baking soda because it is crucial to producing a better cake. Too much or too little can ruin your cake.
You also want to prepare ingredients in advance that may slow you down when you are ready to assemble. For example, an ingredient like butter is too hard to cream your sugar with unless you leave what you need out to soften first. Something like nuts should be shelled and chopped instead of waiting to do this later. If you’re using coconut and plan to toast it or dried fruits that need chopped, it is easier to do it ahead of time as well, etc.
Something else that improves your odds of baking a better cake is sticking to the recipe’s recommended pan sizes. Improvising is fine, but sometimes you might not have enough batter for a cake to grow in the sheet cake pan that you want to use so compare the amount of flour that you usually use when making other cakes in that particular pan. You can also be trying to bake a light layer cake using a recipe intended for a slightly heavier texture of sheet cake.
What I discovered was when dry ingredients such as flour needed sifting, you might want to change that. Instead, I suggest sifting all your dry ingredients together turns out a cake that is lighter and higher just by altering this step. To make a great layer cake, I sift those dry ingredients three times using two large mixing bowls and alternating between them.
Cake Baking Secrets That Can Help Your Next Cake
Eggs sizes do matter as far as making the best cake. Always use large eggs for your baking helps cake success.
Something I learned the hard way is never use a spread in any form of baking if you want baked goods to turn out. Margarine is not the same as a spread. Read your margarine’s label carefully to see if you see that mention of spread on the label. If you do, use this just for toast, buttered vegetables or whatever else, just avoid it for baking. The reason that spreads do not work for baking is due to their water content, which I learned through frustration of failed attempts and calling the 800 number.
Liquid ingredients always should be the last ones to incorporate into your recipe. Doing so will help make a moister cake.
Oven temperatures vary depending on your oven’s source of heat and how efficiently it bakes. Yet, how well your cake bakes also rests on your location and altitude, which can change how recipes will bake. Therefore, keep this in mind and adjust your oven accordingly is another one of those cake baking secrets in hopes of making the best cake.
I also go a step further and use a separate kitchen timer. Instead of just trust a built-in oven clock, a separate kitchen timer set to ring helps especially if you’re in the middle of baking and that oven clock happens to stop. Though I didn’t lose power, my oven clock did stop and it was tricky trying to remember the exact time I stuck the cake in and could safely check on it.
Always cool your cakes on a cooling rack for at least five to seven minutes before attempting to remove them from their pans. Removing cakes immediately without cooling will cause them to fall apart in pieces.
When baking a layer cake, I always found it easier to use wax paper and a little butter or shortening for removal later than just the greasing and dusting with flour. What I like to do is to turn my layer cake pan upside down and cut out the same round size to fit inside my pans before greasing them. Using this trick, my cakes glide out after cooling and I simply peel off the wax paper.
Fill layer cake pans about two-thirds full and spreading the batter thoroughly to do the sides, aiming for a slight hollow in the middle also is worth noting. You even might want to gently hit the sides of the pan or shake it slightly helps get rid of air bubbles.
These few cake baking secrets have helped me over the years to make much better cakes than my earlier attempts. I hope that they help you just as much in your cake baking efforts.