Let’s face it. When it comes to celebratory cakes, (birthday, anniversary, etc,) some of us desire that feeling of accomplishment by making them ourselves. I’ve learned a few tricks in my thirty years of making cakes. Consequently, I’d like to share six random tips to making a better cake. Honestly, a few basics concepts can really help that process along. In the end though, like anything in life, it does take a bit of trial and error. The good thing about baking? Even if the end result looks like a disaster, often times it is still a lot of fun to eat!
Disclaimer: I am far from being what you would call a professional baker. For a number of years, baking was my passion though. As a result, I’m able to share a few tips I learned to make the process go a little easier. My hope is that these tips will help make your job a little bit easier as well.
Six Random Tips To Making A Better Cake:
- Always, always, always, grease and flour your pan. You can find those cans of spray in the baking aisle at the grocery store that will do both steps in one move. It’s worth it….Your cake will slide right out of the pan, all in one piece.
- Follow the recipe, exactly. Seriously, you cannot make a change to a recipe, say, by using regular flour when the recipe calls for cake flour and expect optimal results. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how people will make a change, then feel surprised that it didn’t go well.
- The most amazing invention ever are baking strips, made of a specialized material. In this picture of mine you can see they are very well loved. You can find them in the baking section at most of your big chain craft stores. What do they do? They will help your cake bake more evenly. You completely saturate them in water, wrap them around your cake pan, secure the ends together, (I use a safety pin,) and then bake your cake. They keep the edges from over-baking before the center bakes all the way through. Additionally, it may help your cake layers bake a little more level as well.
- Are you tired of your cake being ruined by unsightly crumbs as they get mixed into the icing? Take some extra time to create a crumb layer. What’s that you ask? It’s when you use your spatula of choice to spread a thin, barely-there, coating of icing over the entire cake. What does it do? It secures those tiny crumbs in place. Notice in my pic to the left you can still see strawberry cake through the icing? The purpose of the crumb layer is not to beautify. Let that crumb coating set for a bit, then come back and put on the “perfect,” final layer. Wallah! No crumbs!
- Do you know how busy you will be the days or week leading up to the party? Bake and freeze your cake ahead of time. Yep. Do it! Wrap it well with saran wrap and pop that baby into the freezer. Pull it out several hours before you want to start decorating in order to give it plenty of time to thaw… Freezing makes for a very moist cake. Yum!
- Finally, are you feeling less than creative for the decorating? This is where Pinterest can become your best friend. It can be a valuable tool to keep in your bag of tricks. More than likely someone has already done what you are trying to do. No sense in “reinventing the wheel” if you don’t have to.