Jun 10, 2015 01:28
Baking the perfect cake is one of the most rewarding achievements for home cook – and you all know I’m not talking about throwing a packet mix into the oven.
The feeling when I pull that fluffy, perfect looking and oh-so delicious cake from the oven, after slaving away for an hour, leaves me strutting around the home bragging about how much of a domestic goddess I am…
But for some reason, for every perfect cake I cook, there’s a failed one as well – someone tell me I am not the only one?!
After one too many sunken cakes, I thought it was time to chat to an expert and so I enlisted the assistance of my favourite baker, Helen Wiecek of Helsbells Cakes.
Helen’s top 5 baking tips for a perfect cake, every time.
1.Make sure you have enough time.
Baking takes time and patience, if you rush you might not get your desired result and will stress yourself out in the process. Make sure your cakes are completely cool before attempting any kind of decorating. If you're making a cake for a special event, it's a good idea to make it the day prior in case of mishaps (most cakes will keep fine in the fridge overnight).
2. Weigh your ingredients using a digital scale.
Baking is more of an exact art than cooking, so accuracy is key. You can get experimental with your flavours but the basic flour, sugar, moisture ratio has to be on-point. In a similar vein, make sure you follow the recipe! Sounds obvious but I can't count the number of times I've given a recipe to a friend and had this conversation-
Friend - So that recipe you gave me didn't turn out!
Me - Oh that's a shame! Did you follow the recipe?
Friend - Yeah! Oh except I only put in half the amount of flour….and added more sugar…oh and I didn't have any eggs so just omitted those…
Me - Ummm…..
3. Don't be tempted to open the oven door in the first half of baking.
The sudden change in temperature can cause your cake to sink in the middle. About three quarters of the way through the suggested bake time is usually safe to have a peek. There are three general rules to know when a cake is baked - if it springs back in the centre when lightly touched, if a skewer inserted into the centre comes out cleanly or if the edges of the cake are starting to come away from the sides of the pan.
4. If you're making a layered cake and are after a professional finish than levelling your cakes is a must!
To cut the top off a slightly domed cake you can either use a large, serrated knife (if you have a good eye and a steady hand) or you can use a fancy-pants cake leveller! They're surprisingly cheap to buy and my preferred method as I find that sometimes my eyes can deceive me. If you're worried about the waste, don't despair! You can always use the off-cuts to make tasty cake pops or truffles.
5. Don't be afraid to fail.
Even the most seasoned baker can occasionally have a disastrous time of it in the kitchen. The key is not to be deterred and keep practicing. Lots of people are intimidated by baking from scratch, but it's easier than you probably think and you really can taste the difference! If you encounter problems, ask a baker friend or failing that, Google is always your friend!
All images are of the beautiful cakes that Helen creates at Helsbells Cakes. Click HERE to visit the Helsbells Cakes website and check out the cakespo on Instagram at @helsbellscakes.