I love to bake all year long, but during the holidays I’m on “baking overdrive.” To make better cakes here are some simple tips to help you with the best outcome possible.
Don’t use cold eggs. The eggs really should be at room temperature, otherwise the mixture won’t emulsify properly. If you’re short on time place eggs in a bowl of warm water for 15 minutes.
Make sure to measure all ingredients precisely. Baking is an art form, but also a science.
Position pans as close to the center of the oven as possible. If you’re placing more than one pan in the oven, they should not touch each other or the oven walls. If your oven isn’t wide enough to put pans side by side, place them on different racks.
If a recipe calls for 1 cup of sifted flour, then first sift the flour and then measure it. If it calls for 1 cup flour sifted, measure the flour, then sift it. It may seem subtle, but it can make the difference between a light, fluffy cake and a heavy one.
Allow at least 20 minutes for your oven to preheat. It’s best to turn the oven on before you start working on your recipe.
Avoid opening the oven door. Opening the oven door too often can make a cake fall, so use the window in your oven door to check the cake’s process when possible.
Remember that each oven heats differently. Check for doneness 10 minutes before the recipe suggests. For most recipes, a cake is ready when it starts pulling away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Invest in wire cooling racks. Cakes cool faster and don’t get soggy when set out on a rack. Leave them in the pans for 10 to 15 minutes before unmolding, and then place on a rack to cool completely before frosting. Angel, chiffon and sponge cakes should be left in the pan to cool to prevent collapsing.
Unfrosted cakes can be stored, well wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for 24 hours. If storing unfrosted cakes for more than 24 hours, it is best to freeze them rather than refrigerate them. Wrap the layers in plastic wrap and then heavy-duty foil to freeze, let cake thaw in the refrigerator before frosting.
To store frosted cakes, keep at room temperature under a cake dome or large bowl unless the recipe specifies refrigeration.
For smooth and easy cake removal, prep your pans properly. When a recipe calls for greasing and flouring, place a piece of parchment or waxed paper on the bottom of a pan (trace and cut it to fit). Coat the sides and bottom with softened butter, and then dust with flour, turning the pan on its side to get full coverage and tapping out the excess. For chocolate cakes, swap in cocoa powder for flour.
Angel, chiffon, and sponge cakes should go into clean, untreated pans since they need to adhere to the sides in order to rise properly.
“Work With What You Got!”
© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2016 All Rights Reserve