There is no denying it – baking perfect cakes can be a tricky business!
Follow these 6 top tips, to make baking perfect cakes a walk in the park…..
Top Tip 1 – Preparation
- Make sure your ingredients are at room temperature before you start
- Grease tins and line with baking/greaseproof paper
- Preheat your oven to the correct temperature
Let’s stop for a minute and talk about oven temperatures!
Did you know that achieving the correct temperature by using the dial on your oven is not always accurate? Using an oven thermometer will help. Oven thermometers like this one, are typically less than £5, and they take the guess work out of oven temperatures!
Top Tip 2 – Your Recipe
There are sooooo many recipes out there, all claiming to be the best. So where do you start? Which do you choose??
Whether you prefer to look at recipe books or browse online, I would always start with simple, easy to follow recipes for your first bakes. Online recipes often come with reviews/ratings on the site, such as BBC Food, which can help you to choose tried and tested recipes. The more ingredients and stages there are, the more risk of getting something wrong.
Follow the recipe carefully and weigh your ingredients – don’t just guess!
Digital scales and measuring spoons/cups are part of a baker’s essential toolkit!
Top Tip 3 – Making your cake batter
For professional or serious bakers, a stand mixer, such as a Kenwood or a Kitchen Aid are a popular choice, as they take the work out of mixing.
If you are new to baking, or don’t want to invest in such a big piece of equipment, a hand mixer will do the job just as well and for much less cost.
When mixing, make sure you mix the sugar and margarine together really well, to incorporate plenty of air into your cake batter, but the flour should be mixed in with care, preferably folded in by hand, to ensure you don’t lose the air!
Top Tip 4 – Baking
Before putting your precious cake mixture into the oven to bake, check the temperature is correct.
If your recipe calls for you to split the mixture between tins, make sure it is done evenly – you can weigh the mixture into the tins if you prefer.
Place a dish of ice cubes at the bottom of your oven to help keep your cakes moist.
Place your tins on the middle shelf of the oven, close the door and set your timer.
DON’T be tempted to open the oven door too soon as this can cause your cake to sink!!!
Top Tip 5 – Is my cake baked?
When your timer goes off, it is time to check if your cake is ready to come out of the oven.……
But how do you know if it is ready??
- if you press the top of your cake, it should be firm to the touch and spring back when pressed lightly
- if you wiggle your cake tin, the cake shouldn’t wobble
- insert a wooden skewer into the centre of the cake – it should come out clean, with no cake mixture attached
If these tests show your cake is not yet cooked through, return to the oven for a few minutes at a time until it passes all the tests!
Top Tip 6 – Cooling your cake
Once your cake is cooked, it needs to be cooled before you can fill and decorate it.
For sponge cakes, it is best to leave in the tins for around 5-10 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire cooling rack, to allow the air to circulate around it. If you leave the cake in the tin to cool, it will continue to cook slightly in the hot tin, meaning it can overcook. It can also shrink away from the sides as it cools.
Make sure your cake is thoroughly cooled before attempting to fill and decorate, or you run the risk of your filling (eg buttercream) melting!
So, there you have it – my 6 top tips for baking perfect cakes!
Looking for ideas on how to decorate your perfect bakes?