10 Useful Cake Baking Tips

Useful tips and information to keep in mind while baking a cake. Follow these instructions to get a perfectly baked cake. 

Photo: By Mark Pellegrini (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

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Baking a cake is quite similar to performing an experiment in chemistry. You mix ingredients in a specific way that it brings about reactions to give the desired product. The final output is dependent, to a great extent, on the procedure and technique used. So, when making a cake, be sure to follow the recipe accurately as your results will be largely dependent on this.

Let me explain with a personal experience. I had done everything the way the recipe had said, until I reached the part where it said to fold in the flour gently. But, I was in a hurry and mixed in the flour rather vigorously. The result – A dense and heavy cake that everybody refused to eat!!

Some important factors to be kept in mind while baking cakes have been discussed below.

1.     Preheating the oven

Always preheat the oven before putting the cake in. Preheating means heating the oven to the required temperature before you put the cake in. This can be done by heating the oven for 5-10 minutes at the same temperature at which the cake will be baked. Some ovens have an inbuilt preheat function that you can make use of.

2.     Choose a proper cake tin

Choose a cake tin such that it will provide sufficient room for the cake to expand. The size of the tin should be such that it is only ½ or ¾ full. Otherwise the cake will crack on top because it has no space to expand.

3.     Grease and flour the cake tin

Make sure to grease and flour the cake tin properly to prevent the cake from sticking to the bottom. Alternatively you can line the bottom of the tin with butter/wax paper. This will make cake removal easy.

4.      Use ingredients at room temperature

Before you start preparing the batter, ensure that all your ingredients are at room temperature. Cold ingredients may separate or curdle instead of mixing well and a broken batter means cake that does not rise well and is crumbly in nature. 

5.     Measure Ingredients carefully

The quantities of ingredients used are important in getting a properly baked cake. Too much flour or to little liquid can result in a heavy and dry cake and can cause problems such as a peaked cake or a cake with a badly cracked top. Too much liquid or too little flour can cause the cake to collapse.

6.     Prepare the batter carefully

Prepare the batter as per the directions in the recipe. The procedure to be followed varies depending on the type of cake and will have a direct impact on the quality of the cake. An undermixed batter could yield a lumpy cake, while too much or vigorous mixing could result in a heavy and dense cake.

7.     Watch the Baking powder/soda

Before using baking powder/soda, check the manufacturing and best before date. It generally is effective for a year only. To check the effectiveness, put ½ tsp in ½ a cup of water and check for effervescence (appearance of bubbles). If no bubbles appear, it is useless. 
Also, use only the recommended amount of baking powder/soda.  Too much can give a make the cake dry or cause it to sink, while too little can result in a heavy and badly peaked cake.  

8.     Be patient during the baking process

Unless unavoidable, don’t open the oven door for the first 15 minutes or at least until the cake has well risen. This could lead to a sunken cake.

9.      Check if the cake is done

Firstly, ensure that the cake has left the sides of the tin. Lightly tap the top of the cake with a finger and if it forms a depression, bake a little while longer. If it springs back, check if it is done by inserting a knife, fork, a cocktail stick, a skewer or a toothpick into the highest part. If it comes out dry the cake is done, otherwise bake for 5-10 minutes more.

10.      Cool the cake before turning out

After taking the cake out of the oven, cool it in the pan on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes. Once completely cool, run a knife or narrow spatula around the edges, place a plate on top of the pan and invert it. Gently tap the pan to release the cake.

Put these tips to the test, bake a super moist chocolate cake or find more recipes here