If you’re getting ready to bake a cake that you plan to decorate, no doubt you want to get it just right. Before you can get started on your creation, it is important the cake turns out well. Some of the things that you might worry about include:
- Will it taste good?
- Can I get the top of the cake to come out flat and without big cracks?
- Can I get the cake out of the pan without damaging it?
It’s perfectly normal to worry about these things. Even professional bakers can get it wrong some times. To help, here are my top tips on how to bake the perfect cake.
Preheat Your Oven
Put your oven to the precise temperature recommended in your recipe. Preheat your oven for at least 15 minutes to ensure it is properly heated.
Grease and Flour Your Pan
Before you start getting your ingredients ready, get your pan ready. Doing this important step early will help ensure you don’t forget later. Simply brush your pan with butter or oil using a pastry brush. You don’t need a lot, but the whole pan should be coated.
Then take a few tablespoons of flour and put them in your pan. Shake the pan and tap the sides, moving the pan around in a circle until the flour has coated the butter layer. Dump any extra loose flour into your food waste bin.
Try “Bake Even” Strips for a Flat Cake Top
Here is a great trick to getting a beautiful cake with a nice flat top. Simply purchase a Wilton “Bake Even” strip for your pan. Other companies make them too, but the Wilton version is shown in this picture.
All you do is soak the strips in water. This is important to prevent burning. Once they are soaked, run your thumb and finger along the length of the strip to remove excess water. You aren’t supposed to wring them out, just remove the excess water. Once you’ve done that, you can wrap it around your pan and use the pin provided to secure the strip.
Follow Your Favorite Cake Recipe Exactly
Whether it’s out of the box or from scratch, it doesn’t really matter but baking is an exact science. Changing ingredients, even just a little, can give a very different end product. It’s important to follow the recipe exactly to get the right result.
Plus, if perfection is necessary and your cake is for a special event, always use a recipe or mix you’ve used before, so you can be sure of the results.
Always read the recipe first and measure out all your ingredients before starting. Things will go much easier for you and you’ll be less likely to make mistakes.
Don’t Over or Under Bake
When you place your cake in the oven, set your timer to the minimum time recommended and check it then. You can tell if your cake is ready in a couple of ways:
• Insert a toothpick or skewer into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done.
• Gently press your finger on the center of the cake. If it jiggles or doesn’t spring back right away, you need more time.
Cool Your Cake
You must cool your cake completely before decorating or your frosting will melt. So make sure to allow plenty of time for this. Depending on the size of your cake, it can take several hours to cool, so keep that in mind when planning your decorating schedule.
Check your recipe to see if the cake should be cooled in the pan, but generally speaking, you should take your cake out of the pan after it has cooled for about 20 minutes or so.
To get your cake out of your pan, run a butter knife gently around the edges of the cake to loosen it. Then place your rack on top of the cake (you can put wax paper between your cake and the rack if you want to limit ridges) and then flip everything over.
Gently lift the pan off the cake and allow the cake to cool on a cooling rack. A cooling rack provides air to the bottom of your cake, reducing moisture and allowing the cake to cool more quickly.
Now you know how to make the perfect cake, it’s time to get baking!