Kitchen disasters are a part and parcel of everyone’s life, isn’t it? Some of us see the humor in it and learn, while some other blatantly lie about never having one. Truth be told, you can’t be a Cook/baker without having done your initial share of disasters.
The first time I tried to bake a Chocolate cake for my parent’s anniversary, was a memorable disaster. Turns out I shouldn’t have assumed Baking soda and Baking powder to be the same thing. The cake mix that went into the oven came out looking more like a big cookie. My passion for cooking and good food was instilled early, by my mother and grandfather. I mastered all the basic family recipes but faced major trouble baking cakes, because no one in my family baked. A couple more disasters followed, but I chose to learn from each of them. Remember that Edison story? Right now, I know 28 ways how not to make cakes.
I make much better cakes right now. I assume they are great because I am asked to bake for every family reunion and functions. Here are 6 absolutely easy tips to help you bake cakes:
1. The fuss about keeping ingredients at room temperature isn’t fake
Making a cake is more of a science experiment than a matter of luck. The right set of ingredients mixed at the right temperature cause a set of reactions. These reactions if planned well give rise to a fluffy light cake. Do not use cold eggs or butter in your mixture. Cold eggs would make sure that your mixture doesn’t emulsify well, which is very important for baking. You mix butter and sugar for the crumbling process, which is supposed to make the cake light as feather. The air that is incorporated while whisking liquids in the mixture, gives that extra volume. Be very sure, not to bring the eggs and the liquids to room temperature before mixing.
2. Make sure you pay extra attention to the preparation of your pans
You might have seen some specific recipes online which make use of specific pan sizes and colors. You might have assumed (like me) that is okay to use a different color or a size smaller. That’s where we go wrong. Cake batters increase their volumes up to 50 to 100%, depending on the ingredients and procedures used. That is why a specific size is suggested, so that the cake doesn’t overflow. And different colored glasses require different temperature settings too.
Having your cake stick to the pan can be a real nightmare. More when the cake looks pretty and smells delicious. Make sure you use a pastry brush for buttering your pan evenly. Then dust it with cocoa powder or flour, tapping out the excess. Now that I am improvising, I can give you a pro tip about baking chocolate cakes. Make use of cocoa powder and cinnamon powder when baking chocolate cakes. This makes sure that my cake has a slight aroma of cinnamon but no hard taste of it.
If this seems like too much work, make use of parchment paper.
3. Do the Mix, the right way
Trust me, this is the actual secret to the cakes you dream of. It all starts with the mixing, when to do it lightly and when to do it vigorously. While you are mixing sugar with the oil or creaming your butter, make sure to do it fast. This will incorporate a lot of air into the mixture. During the next step, you mix your wet ingredients with your dry ingredients. There’s a quick trick here, you can’t mix these 2 vigorously. That will release all the trapped air and you will get a dense cookie-like cake. Do light folds of the 2 and make sure they are mixed well.
4. The batter doesn’t need to rest like you do
As said earlier, cake making is a chemical experiment. The rising agents used in the mix start working fast as soon as they get mixed in the liquids. Letting your batter rest on the counter can be a serious danger for your cake. The air will escape and your cake will become heavy and won’t rise well.
5. The position of Pans in your oven is important
Your cakes should not touch each other or the oven walls. If you are baking multiple cakes and your oven isn’t wide enough, you can put them on different racks. But make sure that there is steady air circulation. Rotate the pan for even baking, but make sure to only do it when the cake is nearly set. When using multiple racks, make sure you swap the pans in between.
Cool your cakes upside down, this will help flatten the surface. If in case, it’s too rounded make use of a knife to cut it off to shape.
6. Being Patient counts, in this m(b)atter
I know it’s quite irresistible to dig into your cake and check if it tastes as good as it smells. But believe me, you don’t want to mess up your last step to success. Let your cake cool for a good 15-20 minutes before demolding it. Hotcakes are very delicate; you will risk breaking it if you do it sooner. After demolding let it rest for a couple of minutes before digging in.
Baking a cake that’s the right amount of fluffy and beautiful is an art. Make use of these 6 tips to master this art like “Cakewalk”. Someday soon you might be able to have drool-worthy cakes that you will flaunt on the web. For that to happen, make sure they look as good as they taste.