It’s easier than you might think to bake the perfect dessert. These simple tips will help you make moist, tender cakes perfect for any occasion.
Lining a Cake Pan
What is the point of a tasty cake that remains stuck to the pan? Prepare your pans correctly for smooth and easy removal. Place a piece of parchment or wax on the bottom of your pan when a recipe specifies buttering and flouring. (Trace it and cut it to fit). Cover the sides and bottom of the pan with butter that has been softened, then dust it with flour. Turn the pan over to ensure complete coverage, and remove excess. To make chocolate cake, substitute flour with cocoa powder. Butter and flour are all needed to bake cakes in decorative Bundt or springform pans. Angel, chiffon, and sponge cakes must be baked in untreated, clean pans because they have to adhere to the sides to rise correctly. Cupcakes require decorative paper or foil liners.
A light, moist cake is made by measuring accurately. A dense, gummy cake can be created with inaccurate measurements. For proper measuring, you will need three different measuring tools. A clear measuring cup, with a spout, for the wet ingredients; a cup with flat rims, in graduated sizes, for the dry ingredients; and a measuring spoon set. In most American baking recipes, ingredients are measured by volume and not weight. For example, the recipe may call for 1 cup of sugar instead of 8 ounces. Consider investing in a kitchen scale if you are genuinely passionate about baking. The most accurate measurements are weight measurements used in international cookbooks and advanced recipes.
To accurately measure liquids, place the measuring cup on a flat surface. Bend your knees to be at eye-level with the lines. Pour the ingredient up to the mark, indicating the desired amount. Be aware that liquid measuring cups are often marked with volume measurements (in ounces) — they should not be confused with weight measurements (in ounces). If a recipe has weight measurements, you’ll need a scale.
Measure dry ingredients using the “spoon-and-sweep” method. Fill the measuring cup with flour or any other dry ingredients. Run the knife back and forth over the edge of the cup to remove any excess flour. Do not scoop the flour out with the measuring cup. The flour will compact, producing more flour than needed and a dense, dried cake. Do not tap the cup filled with flour on the counter because it will settle. You’ll have too much flour if you add more.
When the recipe specifies “1 cup of sifted wheat flour”, sift it first, then measure. When the recipe calls for “1 cup sifted flour”, measure it using the spoon and sweep method. Then sift the flour. In the world of cakes, this subtle difference can be the difference between leaden and ethereal. Sifting can be done with a fine-mesh sieve. Even flour labeled “presifted” on the package needs to be sifted. Use a whisk to evenly distribute the flour, spices, and salt before adding wet ingredients.
Bring Ingredients to Temperature
Temperature and consistency can also affect the texture of your cake. Softened butter is used in many recipes. Use it for creaming, in particular (see below). Softened butter is still pliable and can be beaten, but it also retains its structure to trap air. This is the secret of a fluffy cake. Cold or warm butter will not work, resulting in a dense or flat cake. How do you get the perfect temperature? Remove butter from the refrigerator 45 minutes before using it. You’re ready when it is soft enough to make a thumbprint. It’s faster to cut it up. It’s possible to warm butter using a microwave at reduced power. However, it is easy to overdo it, resulting in uneven melting. The eggs should be at room temp. Warm them up in warm water by placing them into a bowl for five minutes.
In many cake recipes, the butter and sugar are creamed for several minutes, sometimes up to 10. It can be tempting to skip this step, especially when using a mixer on hand. But it is essential to complete it. The texture and structure of the cake are created during this beating. Incorporating air into the batter takes time, a vital cake ingredient. The butter should lighten and increase in volume as you beat it.
The eggs should be beaten to a light foam. When the beater comes out of the bowl, it should be lighter in color and form a thick ribbon. When adding eggs, fully incorporate each egg before adding the next.
It is important not to overmix when adding dry ingredients to a batter (another reason for tricky cakes). What is the best way to do it? Instead of stirring, fold. How to do it: Drag the silicone spatula’s broadside through the batter like an oar. To ensure that the ingredients are mixed evenly, turn the bowl frequently. Use the same technique to incorporate beaten egg whites, whipped crème, and other light and airy elements.
It’s best to start your recipe before your oven can heat up. Remember that every range is different and has hotspots. Positioning a rack at the stove’s center and rotating the pans halfway through baking will ensure even baking. If you open the oven door frequently, the cake can fall. Use the window on the oven door when possible to monitor the cake’s progress. Check the cake’s doneness 10 minutes earlier than suggested in the recipe. In most recipes, the cake is made when it begins to pull away from the sides, and a toothpick placed in the middle comes out clean.
When cakes are placed on a rack, they cool quicker and do not get soggy. Remove them from the pans after 10 to 15 mins and place them on a shelf for cooling completely. Angel, chiffon, or sponge cakes can be left in their pans to prevent them from collapsing.
If you want to divide a cake into layers, lightly run a serrated blade around the edge of the cake. This will mark the line at which the cut should be made. Draw the knife gently through the cake to divide it. If your layers are uneven, place the thicker coating at the bottom.
Unfrosted cakes can be stored at room temperature, tightly wrapped in plastic for up to 24 hours. It is best to freeze cakes instead of refrigerating them for long-term storage. Wrap the layers with plastic wrap, then foil heavy-duty to protect them against the cold. Thaw the patties in the fridge before frosting. Store frosted cake at room temperature in a large bowl or dome unless your recipe demands refrigeration. Press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the cut cakes to help keep moisture in.