What’s the secret to a perfect cake? While it starts with getting a good recipe (and perfecting it according to your preferences) there are a few little tricks that can help enhance the quality of your cake’s texture, appearance and taste.
Try one of these tips the next time you decide to bake a cake. Here are some industry secrets from professional bakers. Like all of o5.com’s recipes for life, these are easy, practical, and tested.
Tips for a lighter cake
There are many ways to create a light, moist cake. One of them is to add meringue powder (about 1 to 2 teaspoons) to the cake mix. This will make the batter rise higher. You can also add a teaspoon of lemon juice to the butter and sugar when you cream these in the blender. And, to get air into the batter, cream the butter or beat the cream for a minimum of 5 minutes. Some bakers also separate the egg white from the egg yolk, adding the yolk first to the butter and sugar, and then beating the egg whites separately so it’s all frothy before it’s added to the rest of the mixture.
Tips for preventing cracks on the crust
One industry secret is to add unflavored gelatine to the cake batter (about one envelope). And, so the cake top is level and even, shake the pan a bit (spreading the batter so it reaches each side). And don’t put too much batter in one pan. Leave about 1/3 (or even ½) allowance so the temperature is evenly distributed and it rises better.
Tips for moist cakes
Does the recipe call for baking soda? Add a teaspoon of vinegar to the baking soda before adding it to the mix. You can also add more liquids to the mix, but do remember to adjust the other ingredients. For example, if the recipe calls for oil, substitute half of the amount with applesauce or yoghurt.
If you’re making a fruitcake or any ‘dense’ cake, add a pan of water to the oven and keep it there as it bakes. This prevents the fruitcake from drying out.
Tips for greasing the pans
Greasing the pans prevents the cake batter from sticking to the cake mold. You can use butter of shortening. For mess-free application, apply with a pastry brush, a piece of wax paper or a paper cupcake holder. You can also line the bottom of the pan with wax paper (trace around the bottom of the pan to get a perfect fit) and then add another layer of grease on top.
Some recipes call for greasing the pan and then dusting it with flour. For extra flavor, dust with dry cake mix or cocoa.
If the cake still sticks the pan, then boil hot water in a kettle and then pour over a clean towel that’s been placed in the sink. Then, put the pan on top of the towel and leave it for about 2 minutes. Or, you can turn the pan upside down over a cooling rack, and then place a towel on top. Apply a hot steam iron on the towel, heating it (and the pan) for about 2 minutes.
Tips for baking several pans at a time
You can bake several pans at a time, but it’s important to leave enough space between them so the heat can circulate. Give about a 2 inch allowance between all pans and the oven walls.
Tips for frosting a cake
Cool the cake completely. Then, to minimize crumbs in the frosting, get a pastry brush and pat or dust icing on the surface. Many bakers also recommend first applying a thin layer of frosting and refrigerating the cake for an hour.
For smooth and glossy looking frosting, ‘melt’ it with…a blowdryer! If you don’t have one, place your icing spatula in a bowl of hot water and smooth it all over the frosting.
Baking soda (just a pinch!) will also prevent the frosting form cracking or flaking. Adding a thin layer of flour over the cake can also help icing stick to the surface.
Photo from www.countryliving.com