Special occasions just seem more special with cake. Baking a cake can seem like a time consuming, difficult endeavor, but the reality is that baking a cake is really not difficult if you have the right ingredients and tools. Knowing a few tricks will help you turn a good cake into an amazing cake.
The Right IngredientsTo make an amazing cake, you want to choose the best ingredients. Sure, you could simply buy a mix, but taking the time to create a masterpiece from scratch is not hard. What’s more, it’s well worth the effort when it comes to texture and flavor. For the lightest texture and the best flavor, choose fresh, quality ingredients. All cakes start with flour. It is tempting to reach for your regular all-purpose flour, but for a lighter, fluffier texture, use cake flour instead of regular flour.
Make sure you use fresh flour, otherwise your cake could taste stale or bitter. If you’ve ever experienced a metallic taste after eating a baked good, you’ll understand the importance of quality ingredients. That metallic taste is probably caused by either old or low-quality baking powder. Real vanilla, or fresh vanilla bean, will give you a more intense vanilla flavor than an imitation extract will. Rather than oil, consider using butter for a fluffier, more flavorful cake.
Bowls And SpoonsBefore you can bake a specific type of cake, you have to mix the right ratio of ingredients. The bowls and spoons you use can make a difference in the quality of your final product. A glass mixing bowl allows you to see the ingredients from the side which helps to ensure that everything is being properly incorporated into the batter. Bowls with spouts are perfect for pouring the batter directly into your pans.
Working alongside the bowl is the spoon. For folding ingredients into a mix, or scraping down the sides of the bowl as you mix, a rubber spatula is a good choice. For cakes that don’t require a mixer, like a cake with fresh fruit in the batter, a wooden spoon works nicely for the mixing.
Mixing TipsWhen mixing your cake, it’s important not to over mix, or under mix, the batter. Use a good quality mixer. If you are a novice baker, setting a timer as you mix can help you avoid creating a cake that is too hard to eat, or one that is so soft it falls to pieces.
Most instructions on a store-bought cake mix tell you to mix for two minutes once your dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet ingredients. For a from-scratch cake, two to three minutes is ideal. Three minutes tends to make the batter a little fluffier as more air is incorporated through the mixing.
The PansThere are a variety of styles and sizes of cake pans available to you. For your basic cake, 8-inch or 9-inch round pans are ideal. Most bakers prefer to use metal cake pans rather than glass ones. Cakes seem to rise better when baked in a metal pan.
CoolingOnce you have baked your cake, you want to let it cool thoroughly before decorating. To accomplish this goal, let the cake sit in the pan for approximately five minutes, and then turn it out onto wire cooling racks. Using the wire racks facilitates airflow around the cake allowing it to cool evenly. Once your cake is thoroughly cooled, you can begin decorating.
Baking an amazing cake is simple once you know a few tricks of the trade. Choose the right equipment and fresh, quality ingredients to make your baking adventure a success.
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