Baking- Its truly an art!!!! And a very difficult art to master.. 😛
Have you ever burnt your cake and blamed your oven for it?????
Have you ever felt that inspite of following a cake recipe very carefully, your cake looked 1000 times different (let’s say, awful) than the pictures shared by the recipe owner??????
Has your cake ever turned out to be so hard that it could be used as a weapon??????? 😛
Are you learning to bake on your own?
If your answer to the above questions is yes, then your reading the right blog!!!!! Few years back, I started to learn baking when we bought a new oven at home. At that time, even my answer to those questions was “Yes“!
I learnt baking on my own by watching videos on internet, reading recipes and borrowing recipes that worked for others 😀 . In this whole process, I have spoilt atleast 4-5 cakes and even burnt some 😛 . There are so many elements to baking that narrowing down on one reason for spoiling the cake is difficult. So from then on, I started experimenting with my recipes and tried to identify ways that could probably save the cake 😀 . The lessons I learnt from these trials helped me in making soft and yummy cakes that I am proud of! 🙂
Some pictures of sweet success-
(Click on the link in the captions to view recipes for these cakes. Will post the missing ones soon!!!)
Following are some of the insider baking knowledge that I gained from my experiences. If you want your first baking experience to be a sweet and memorable one, then it is good to know them:
Use of proper measuring tools
The recipes often tell you the quantity of ingredients in terms of cups- 1 full cup or 3/4 cup and so on. Baking is all about right proportions. If you use a single cup to measure all the quantities, then may luck be your side!!! 😐 To measure one full cup is very easy but getting half a cup or 3/4 th cup is tricky. If you measure it just by your instincts then the ingredients could be more or less than required. Use proper measuring cups which are marked as one cup or half cup, etc. Same goes for teaspoons and tablespoons. The first time I used proper measuring tools like dry ingredient measuring cups & spoons, liquid ingredient measuring cups, my cake came out to be very soft and tasty!
Aerating the cake mixture
While manually mixing the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients, use flat and wide spatulas to fold in your cake mixture. Place the light ingredients on top of the heavy ingredients and then cut it down vertically in the middle of the bowl. Now bring the heavy ingredients to the top, rotate the bowl and again cut down vertically in the middle. Repeat this action till all the wet and dry ingredients have mixed in properly. This can also be done using electric mixers. This will ensure that the cake is adequately aerated. Whichever method of mixing you use, do not over mix the batter as the gluten in the flour will form elastic strands and this will make the cake dense and chewy.
Preheating oven is an absolute must while baking cakes. My oven had a special setting where preheating was not required. But this didn’t work convincingly for me. So don’t try to take a shortcut by not preheating and using all fancy new features being introduced in ovens. Being old school sometimes gives you great results!!!
When you are trying to replicate a recipe, then make sure you use the same tray size as mentioned in the recipe. With less quantity of cake mixture in a big tray, the cake will cook soon due to more surface area. So there are chances that the cake will become dry and hard. On the contrary, with more amount of cake mixture in a small tray, the cake will not cook through completely and might need more time than mentioned in the recipe. Even after it gets cooked, the cake might turn out dense and not spongy.
Cool down the cake before further processing
After getting the cake out of the oven, give it enough time to cool down. Not doing this could have many consequences-
- The hot cake could be stuck to the tray and when you try to flip it, the cake will break.
- The icing will melt on hot cake. Refrigerate the cake if the recipe demands.
- Cutting a hot cake will not give proper pieces as expected, it will get disintegrated.
These were some of the important points I wished I had known earlier. I could have saved those 4-5 cakes from getting spoilt 😀 .
There are many more basic things that I am sure you will eventually learn from your own experiences. Adapting the above suggestions might not make you a pro at baking but it will definitely save you loads of time, money and efforts.
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