I was originally going to add my baking tips to my Getting Started Part 3 post about cake pans, but my list got fairly lengthy! Here are just a few tips I’ve gathered since I’ve started baking:
- If you are making a CAKE don’t bake at 350 as most recipes will tell you to. Bake at 325, the result is a cake that rises much more evenly, which means less work for you later to level it.
- If you are making CUPCAKES, preheat your oven to 425, when you put your cupcakes in turn it down to 350. The quick burst of high heat in the beginning helps you get a nice dome, but you don’t want to bake it at 425 or the outside will cook faster than the inside.
- After you pull your cake out of the oven, before you remove it from the pan, give it a gentle press with your hands (lay a clean towel on the cake first!). This will help level the cake before taking it out of the pan so your cake doesn’t crack. Just be sure to use gentle pressure, and be careful of escaping steam!
- Let your cakes cool for at least 10 minutes, but not more than 15 before removing them from the pan. You want the cake to cool enough that you can handle it and so the structure is more stable, but you don’t want the pan grease to cool off too much and cause your cake to stick.
- If your cake is raised above the lip of your pan, even after “smooshing,” take a serrated knife and using the pan as a guide, trim off the excess. Removing the dome will help to keep your cake from cracking when you turn it over.
- I use parchment paper on top of my cooling rack to keep the cake to keep it from sticking to my wire rack. If you have a moist recipe, or if condensation forms as it’s cooling, the cake can get a little gummy on the bottom. The cake peels easily from the parchment once it is cool.
- You CAN freeze cake! It freezes very well, in fact many people think it results in a moister cake. Also, a partially frozen cake is easier to carve and/or level.
- “Think Outside the Pan!” Wilton has covered the market on shaped pans. You can get characters and odd shapes, domes, balls and jumbo cupcakes. Before you run out and spend the extra money… take a look at what you already have that you can bake in! Need a dome or ball? Use your glass (such as Pyrex) or metal mixing bowls (as long as they are “oven safe”).
- When baking a large cake not only do you need to increase the time, but you have to help it to bake evenly. You can purchase a “heating core” or if you have them, use an upside down flower nail! Just grease it/them like you did your pan, and push it down until you can feel it firmly against the bottom of the pan. It WILL come right out when you turn your cake out of the pan! (For any pan sized 12” or larger, you should use a heating core or flower nail. For really large pans, like 16” you may need 2 or 3 flower nails).
- Sift your dry ingredients! You would be amazed at what has lumps in it. Even if you use a boxed mix, sift it. The result is a much finer crumb, give it a try, you’ll see the difference.
- Don’t over mix your batter. I’ll say it again, don’t over mix your batter! You may think that if you mix your batter a little longer you’ll whip air into it and get a lighter cake. But what you are actually doing is activating the gluten in the flour and you’ll end up with a gummier, denser cake. You should mix it 1-2 min TOPS. Really, you just need to combine the ingredients.
Happy Caking :)