15 Secrets to Baking the Best Cakes
We spill on how you can make your best cake yet!
When it comes to baking, hit or miss is not an option. Get started on making the best versions of your cake creations by following these tips:
Mise en Place
1. Use the right ingredients
Use the right kind of flour. If the recipe calls for cake flour, use cake flour. The different types of flours have different protein contents, which can directly affect how tender (or tough!) your cake will be.
Do not use cold eggs. Cold eggs will not emulsify properly which can cause your cake to not rise. Bring cold eggs to room temperature by simply submerging them in warm (not hot) water for 20 to 30 minutes.
Use good quality chocolate, or ingredients for that matter. Your oven will not magically transform substandard ingredients into extraordinary cakes. Use the best ingredients you can get your hands on.
2. Weigh properly. As much as you can, use a kitchen scale.
3. Sift together dry ingredients. Sift together dry ingredients to avoid lumps in your batter. After sifting, whisk them together to ensure even distribution of all the ingredients.
4. Use the right cake pan. Do not try to bake a recipe intended for a 9-inch round pan into a 7-inch round pan or 9x13-inch rectangular pan. Not only will you have a cake that’s too high or too short, chances are, it also won’t be cooked properly.
Mixing and Baking
5. Cream butter and sugar properly. Creaming together butter and sugar is your way of incorporating air into your cakes. Cream until light and fluffy—you should be able to notice how significantly pale in color the mixture has become. This should take about 5 minutes.
6. Do not over mix your batter. Over mixing your batter will develop its gluten and result to tough cakes! Mix together the dry and wet ingredients just until they’re incorporated.
7. Fold the right way. When folding, be sure to add the lighter mixture into the heavier mixture. Be careful of deflating the batter.
8. Preheat your oven properly. Bring your oven to the right temperature before baking your cake. Turn it on a good 20 minutes before you need it and use an oven thermometer to be sure.
9. Do not take a peek. Do not open the oven door during the first 20 minutes of baking. Introducing cold air to cakes that have not yet set will cause them to fall flat.
10. Test if your cake is done. by inserting a toothpick at the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done!
Cooling and Frosting
11. Allow cakes to cool in pan for 20 minutes before cooling them on a wire rack completely. Do not frost warm cakes as they might melt the frosting.
12. Freeze before frosting. Once your cake is completely cool, wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 30 minutes. This will help with easy handling and frosting.
13. Crumb coat your cake by covering it in a thin layer of frosting and refrigerating it for a few minutes before frosting it again. Crumb coating seals all the crumbs in so you can finish your cake like a pro!
14. Parchment paper will help. Cut 2-inch (width) strips of parchment paper and insert them in between the cake and board before frosting. They will catch all spills and messy frosting work underneath. Once you’ve frosted your cake, simply pull off strips of parchment.
15. Be sure to have warm water on hand. If frosting with an offset spatula, have a jar of warm water beside you. Dip your spatula every few swirls and dry with a clean kitchen towel.
Photography by Patrick Martires (pouring batter and decorator's icing) and At Maculangan (Tablea Chocolate Cake)