Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday Treats: Tips on Making the Perfect Cake

So, I'm doing a little something different today for Tuesday Treats. I decided to go with some tips on baking and icing the perfect cake!
This inspiration came straight from my own baking. Look here, hardly what you would call a pretty cake.

So, I found some help in Cooking Light's June 2010 issue.

Here are their 10 tips for making the perfect cake:

1. Results start in the mixing bowl.
Examples: pound cakes get their soft, fine texture and moistness by first creaming together fat and sugar, adding eggs and slowing incorporating dry ingredients. Whereas Angle food cakes get their signature airy, foamlike texture when whole eggs or egg whites are whipped until voluminous, then folded into batter.

2. Know your oven.
To prevent under- or overdone cakes, get an oven thermometer to be sure your oven is calibrated correctly. Always bake the cake in the middle of the oven, as too close to the top or bottom can cause over browning. Gently close the oven door- a hard slam can release air bubbles trapped in the batter.

3. Choose the proper pan size (and color).
(I think this was written just for me!)
If the recipe calls for a 9 inch pan and you only have 8 inch round pans what do you do? Go buy 9 inch pans. DARN!
Pan size is specified in recipes because a cake increases in volume 50 to 100 percent during baking. Color is important, as a glass or dark nonstick pan usually requires a 25 degree reduction in baking temperature compared to a silver colored aluminum pan. (ah ha moment for me!)

4. Use the right flour for the recipe.
Different flours contain different amounts of protein which means the more protein, the more gluten. So, cake flour for angel food cakes, bread flour for denser items, and all-purpose flour is the middle.

5. And weigh, don't measure, it.
You could end up with double the amount of flour needed, depending on how it's packed in the measuring cup, so best bet is to weigh it.

6. Cake love 101: The intimate chemistry among these ingredients.
FLOUR: gives cake its structure. Don't overmix or your cake might become tough.
LEAVENERS (baking soda or powder): cause your batter to expand during baking and cause the cake to rise.
FATS (butter or oil): provides moisture for the cake to ensure a tender texture.
SUGAR: keeps the cake moist, enriches the flavor, and helps the cake brown.
EGGS: help the cake batter set in the oven.

7. Give your cake a cooldown.
Let cakes cool on wire rack for 20 minutes and then remove from pan. Once cooled, place a plate on top, invert the pan, and gently tap or shake it to release the cake.

8. Frost like a professional.
Put a small dollop of frosting in the center of the cake plate and place the first cake layer on top of it. This will keep the cake from moving. Use an offset spatula to frost the top, add the next layer, then coat the whole cake with a thin layer of frosting. (This "crumb coat" holds loose crumbs in place). Place the cake in the freezer for 15 minutes, then remove and finish frosting, starting with the top, then the sides.

9. Fondant may make for a beautiful cake, but...
it usually doesn't taste very good.

10. How to factor in a higher altitude.
Increase oven temp to 375 degrees and liquid by 2 Tbsp for each cup used. Decrease each cup of sugar by 1 Tbsp, each tsp of baking powder by 1/8 tsp, and the baking time by 5 minutes. Phew...I'm glad I don't have to do this...too much math for me to enjoy baking!

So, I was so excited to get all this new non-stick bakeware. However, look what it is doing to my cakes...

and again...

Although the cakes still taste great, I wish they would look more like this...

So what do we do about this problem? Well, besides returning all my brand new bakeware that I have waited forever for?!

Well, the only thing I've found so far is that you don't need to spray these pans. That is actually causing some of the discoloration.

But the pan still states to follow the recipe instructions for greasing and flouring so that the baked good will rise properaly and can be easily removed after baking.

*sad face*

Maybe I'll try reducing the temp by 25 degrees like the article stated and see if that helps...I'll let you know!

ENJOY your holiday baking!

1 comment:

  1. Oh mercy....those look divine...
    making me want to bake instead of clean. (i mean blog)