Baking cake is a very simple affair today. Most of us bake a cake at home. Cake recipes are flooded everywhere, online, magazines, TV… everywhere.
But still even with the same recipe of cake different people bake it differently.
Some even say that their cake does not come out soft or is too much peaked or sinks from the centre etc. At times, they discard the recipe and switch over to some other recipe.
Actually, there are some simple yet important points which need to be followed while baking a cake. These are very simple but either due to ignorance or in a hurry we overlook these points.
We skip certain vital steps as we don’t know its relevance and consider it as a wasteful step. For example, Sifting the flour. You might say that my flour is clean and of good quality, so it doesn’t need sifting. But sifting has other purposes also beside cleaning the impurities. Once you understand the importance of sifting, I bet you will never ignore it. In fact, will do it one time additional only. Similarly many other points, each having a reason behind it.
Let us understand those steps or in simple words tips for baking a good cake. You might be aware of some or most of them, but checking again might help.
So, before you discard any recipe or stop baking cake out of disappointment just go through the following tips for baking a good cake.
Never ever take the following tips lightly. The more particular you will be regarding these more perfect your cake will be.
1. Preheating Oven
What did you say? Why waste energy running an empty oven? Think again.
A Preheated oven is vital for baking a good cake.
Always preheat the oven for at least 15 minutes at the temperature given in the recipe. Never put your batter in a cold or less hot oven. One of the reasons is that the leavening agents in the cake (Baking Powder or Baking Soda) requires a push-a good hit of heat at the beginning for the optimal rise, texture and browning. If they don’t get that push then the result is heavy, undercooked, hard and rubbery cakes.
Secondly, a preheated oven will cook the food all the way to its centre before outside of the food is burnt and inedible.
2. Prepare the Baking Pan
Always prepare the baking pan before beginning to mix the cake batter.
Grease the baking pan lightly and then dust it with flour, tapping out the surplus. Greasing helps the cake to come out easily once it is baked. Then why flour is dusted? It is dusted with flour so that the oil/butter does not mix into the batter as the cake bakes, remains there till the end, finally helping the cake to slip out of the baking dish easily.
3. Sifting the Dry Ingredients
Sift the Flour…
Lift the Air….
4. Weigh Accurately
5. Ingredients at Room Temperature
Baking Powder and Baking Soda: These two, similar looking ingredients, confuses lot many people. They are different ingredients and cannot be replaced for each other. Please use as per the recipe only. For clear understanding about these two and their differences read here.
6. Use Baking Pan/Cake Tin of the correct size.
Using a baking pan, too big or too small may lead the batter to overflow, burn around the edges and bottom, or sink in the middle.
7. Never Beat the Batter
8. Mix Nuts/Fruits in the flour
9. Using Essence/Flavourings
Always add essence/flavourings etc to the fat because fat absorbs flavour readily. So next time add vanilla/pineapple essence to the oil sugar mixture.
10. For Flat Top
11. Release Air Bubbles
Always tap the baking pan before putting it in the oven to release air bubbles, if any. In case you are using a glass pan then do not forget to spread a towel or some other napkin before tapping the pan.
12. Placing The Baking Pan
Place baking pan in the centre of the oven so that hot air can circulate around
13. Do Not Open the Oven
Never open the door of the oven for the first 20 minutes of placing the cake in the oven. This disturbs the temperature inside the oven resulting in sunken or heavy cakes.
14. A Cake is Baked when
- it is well risen and has a good colour, feels firm and springy when pressed with the finger tips.
- a toothpick/cake tester remains clean after being inserted into the cake.
- in the case of fruit cake, when no sizzling sound is heard when held fairly close to the ear.
15. When to Remove from the Baking Pan
When cakes are removed from the oven, wait for 7-8 minutes before removing them from the pan. However if baked the cake in disposable baking pans then let it be as it is. No need to remove it from there.
16. Use a Wire Rack
After taking out the cake from the baking pan, always keep it on a wire rack otherwise it will get soggy from the bottom. You get this rack with every OTG or Microwave oven. In the absence of this take a wire mesh, keep it on some container and keep your cake on it. Use any of the two, purpose is that the bottom should be able to release hot air.