Cake Baking Help

Get Cake Making HelpYou'll Find Help with Cake Making Below
(Source: DIYplr)

If you need cake baking help and want to know how to bake a perfect cake like Grandma's, you've come to the right page. Below you'll find the basics, like preparations, how to properly grease the pan, how to bake a flat top, how to know when your cake is done, the right way to cool it before decorating, and more. Everything to get you started.

Here's the Cake Baking Help You Need

Learning how to bake a cake from scratch isn't rocket science, but it does require some practice; along with a few basic instructions to get you started.

1. Pick Your Cake Recipe

Whatever homemade cake recipe you choose, realize that your first attempt is likely to be an experiment. Rejoice if it turns out perfectly, but don't be surprised if it doesn't. As Chef Julia Child said, "No one is born a great cook; one learns by doing." Even the great Julia needed cake baking help at times.

If you need the cake for a special occasion, and you haven't the time to experiment, always choose a cake recipe you're familiar with, one that you've used before. That way, you'll be more certain of good results.

2. Prepare Your Ingredients

Before doing anything, carefully read your cake recipe and check to see that you have all the ingredients it calls for. There's nothing more frustrating than getting halfway through the mixing process and realizing you're missing an ingredient.

Then, measure out the ingredients and have them ready. That way, everything will go smoothly, and you'll be less prone to make an error.

Also, you might find cake baking help within the recipe itself, as a suggestion, or a tip is sometimes given for best baking results. And if you're ever stuck, click on the red button at the upper right of this site for Recipe Help.

3. Preheat Your Oven

Set your oven to the temperature recommended in your recipe, allowing time for your oven to preheat.

4. Grease and Flour Your Pan

Grease and Flour Cake PanGrease and Flour Your Cake Pan Before Adding Batter
(Source: DIYplr)

Prepare your cake pan by greasing and flouring it, unless your recipe says otherwise. By doing this important step early, it helps to make sure you don't forget to do it later.

Use a pasty brush to coat your pan's interior with softened butter. You don't need to overdo it, but the whole pan should be coated. If you don't have a brush handy, simply use a small piece of wax paper to scoop up a bit of butter and smear it over the surface of the pan.

Then take a small handful of flour and sprinkle it over your pan. Shake the pan and tap its sides, moving the pan around until the flour has lightly coated the butter layer. Dump out any loose flour, and your pan is ready for the cake batter, with less chance of your cake sticking to the pan later.

How to Bake a Flat Cake Top

Cakes with flat tops are easier to ice and easier to stack should you wish to make a layer cake. Unfortunately, cakes sometimes rise in the center forming a little dome shape, and they sometimes crack wide open. So, here's some practical cake baking help from Grandma's day:

While it's always possible to take a long serrated knife, or a bread knife, and slice off the unwanted dome, there's an easy method that Grandma used which works much better:

Grandma took an old terrycloth towel and cut it in strips as wide as the depth of her cake pans and long enough to wrap completely around them. Just before placing her cake in the oven, she wet the terrycloth strip in cold water, ran her thumb and finger along its length to remove the excess water, wrapped it around the pan, and secured it with safety pins.

Homemade Cake Baking StripHomemade Cake Baking Strip for a Flat Cake Top
(Source: ©Don Bell)

How does it work? The moisture in the terrycloth strip helps the cake to bake more evenly, so it rises with a wonderfully flat top. Do NOT wring the strips out, just remove the excess water, as the wetness also prevents the strip from burning. Clever, eh?

Wilton Bake-Even StripWilton® Bake-Even Strip Fastened to Pan
(Source: DIYplr)

Nowadays, you can purchase Wilton® "Bake-Even" strips for your cake pans to do the same thing, but it's cheaper to just make your own. As Grandma would say, "Why spend good money on something when you don't need to?" The Wilton® product happens to be shown in the image above, but other companies also make similar strips.

5. Test Your Cake

Always set your timer to the minimum baking time called for in the recipe. When the time is up, test your cake to see whether it's done using one or both of the following methods:

  • Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake, and if it comes out clean without any crumbs, your cake is done.

  • Gently press your finger on the center of the cake, and if it jiggles or doesn't spring back immediately, allow more time for baking.

Testing is vital as you won't want to over bake your cake.

6. Remove Your Cake from the Oven

After removing your cake from the oven, set the pan on a wire cooling rack to ensure that the bottom of the pan has air flow to help it cool. Run a sharp knife around the edges of the pan to separate the cake from the sides of the pan, and allow the cake to cool for at least 15 minutes.

Just be sure to hold the knife vertical to the sides of the pan to avoid cutting into the cake. The cake will shrink slightly as it sits cooling, and the separation will allow it to shrink evenly, instead of being stuck to the sides of the pan.

7. Allow Your Cake to Cool

Cake Cooling on a Wire RackAllow Your Cake to Cool on a Wire Rack
(Source: ©jodiejohnson/

Your cake must be completely cooled before you start decorating it, or your icing will surely melt. Allow about 3 hours to cool a large cake thoroughly. Smaller, thinner cakes will require less cooling time. Always plan ahead to allow adequate cooling time.

Unless the recipe calls for the cake to be cooled in the pan, usually you should remove your cake from the pan after it has sat for about 15 minutes. Don't attempt to remove a hot cake from its pan immediately upon taking it from the oven; it's too delicate at that stage.

To remove your cake from the pan, place a cooling rack on top of the cake, then turn over both rack and cake together, while gently tapping the pan's bottom to release the cake. You might need to run the knife around the edges of the pan again.

Placing a sheet of wax paper between the cake and the rack will help to prevent possible ridges. Grandma used to lay a clean tea towel across the rack. It still permitted some air flow, but it prevented the cake from having direct contact with the metal rack.

Allow the cake to cool on the rack, as it allows air to reach the entire cake, reducing moisture, and allowing it to cool more quickly. Once cooled enough, you can safely turn the cake over onto a plate to finish cooling before decorating.

If the cake appears stuck to the rack, simply place your plate over the bottom of the cake, with the top side of the plate in contact with the cake bottom. Placing one hand over the bottom of the plate and the other beneath the rack, turn the cake over and let it rest for a minute. It should separate from the rack, but if it's sticking to the rack, very gently rock the rack to loosen it from the cake.

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For additional cake baking help, be sure to check out the following pages:

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