If you are new to cake baking and want to know more? Or been lost about where to begin? This page provides cake baking tips for beginners which can help improve your baking knowledge and skills.
1. Don’t Be Afraid To Make Your First Cake
Don’t be afraid to bake your first cake, we all have to start somewhere. And don’t be afraid of failure that’s how we all learn. Learn from your mistakes and try to improve with every cake you bake.
There are many easy cake recipes that will help you get started, like my easy banana bread. Once you understand the basics you can only get better.
2. Plan Ahead and Read The Recipe
One of the most important things to do before you bake is to read the recipe. By reading the recipe, it allows you to become familiar with what you need to do. It also allows you to gather ingredients and tools.
This way, if you are missing an ingredient or don’t understand something about the recipe, you can deal with it before you start to bake!
You may want to read the recipe twice. This way, you can pick up on things you may have missed when reading the recipe for the first time.
3. Understand Cake Baking Terms
Sometimes you may be in the process of making a recipe and stumble upon a baking term you are not familiar with.
To ensure that you don’t get stuck while baking, make use of the internet and look up these baking terms before you start.
4. Follow The Recipe
This may seem obvious, right? However, if you accidentally miss a step or leave out an ingredient, the recipe may not turn out the way it was meant to.
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3.1 – If you can, print the recipe and work from that instead of using your mobile phone. By following a printed copy of the recipe, you are less likely to miss steps and ingredients. This is because you are not scrolling up and down like you would on your mobile.
3.2 – Also use a pen to mark of each ingredient and step as you go.
5. Choose The Right Cake Tin
You may not always have the right size cake tin for a recipe. This may make you wonder if you can make the recipe at all. While it is best to use the required tin size, if it isn’t possible, try to find a cake tin or baking dish of any shape with a similar capacity. You might find this article on cake pan sizes and conversions helpful.
6. Gather Ingredients Before You Start
This may sound time consuming, but it will help you in the end. By setting out all ingredients before you start, you not only ensure you have everything the recipe requires, but it stops you from constantly looking for things when baking. This will make your baking experience more enjoyable.
7. Room Temperature Ingredients
To ensure you have consistency in your recipe, having your ingredients at room temperature is important.
For example, if you have butter at room temperature, and mix in cold ingredients, the butter will harden and form little lumps which can be okay for some recipes but, most require a smooth batter.
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6.1 – To bring cold foods like eggs, milk, butter, yogurt etc to room temperature, remove them from the fridge about one hour before using.
If you can’t wait one hour
6.2 – For cold eggs, bring them to room temperature quickly, by place in a small bowl and cover with very warm water (not hot or boiling) for about 5 minutes or until they no longer feel cold.
6.3 – For cold ingredients like milk, buttermilk and yogurt, these can be warmed in the microwave for several seconds at a time until the chill has been removed.
6.4 – For cold butter don’t leave it a one big block. Instead, cut it into tiny cubes. The smaller the pieces the quick it will come to room temperature. Alternatively, you can microwave larger pieces of butter for several seconds at a time to soften it.
8. Melted Butter Is Not The Same As Softened Butter
Butter straight from the fridge is hard and difficult to mix in with your ingredients. For recipes that ask for softened butter, the butter should be soft enough so that is can be spread on to a fresh piece of bread without tearing it.
Hard butter can be softened by leaving it out at room temperature for several hours or by placing it in the microwave. Depending on the amount of butter that needs to be softened, it may take as little as 5 to 10 seconds in the microwave.
It could take longer if you have a larger quantity of butter. But, do be careful not to melt the butter. If you have over softened the butter and melted it, pop it back in the fridge until it just starts to solidify.
If a recipe asks for melted butter, the butter you use should be more of a liquid. You can use the microwave oven to melt the butter or place it in a small pot and melt over low heat on the stove.
9. Measure Properly – Use Scales and Measuring Cups and Spoons
Make use of kitchen scales, they are more accurate than using measuring cups especially when it comes to dry ingredients.
Fluffing and lightly filling a measuring cup may give you 125 grams of flour but, dipping and pressing flour into the cup could give you as much as 170 grams. This difference is huge and can affect the outcome of the cake.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a set of digital scales, just choose one that offers both metric and imperial measurements, this way you can bake any recipe from all over the world.
10. Sift Flour And Dry Ingredients
Sifting flour aerates it making it lighter and less compact than unsifted flour which is required for recipes like sponge cakes.
Flour can also be sifted with other dry ingredients like baking powder or cocoa powder, this helps to combine them before mixing.
11. Scrape The Bowl
You may wonder why you want to do this, or even how important this really is. When mixing ingredients together in a bowl, sometimes little bits of butter or flour ride up the sides of the bowl or remain unmixed at the bottom of the bowl.
To avoid this, when mixing, occasional stop and scrap down the sides of the bowl and bottom of the bowl with a spatula. This helps to ensure all ingredients are mixed properly.
12. Use Kitchen Scales To Divide Batter
If you are required to divide batter when baking, it is best to use scales. This is because it allows you to be more accurate in your measurements and make more equal proportions.
1 Bonus Cake Baking Tips For Beginners
- Before making the cake batter. Weigh and record the weight of the empty mixing bowl.
- Make the cake batter in the bowl then weigh the bowl again.
- Subtract the weight of the empty bowl from the batter filled bowl weight get the actual batter weight.
- Then divide the batter weight by the number of cakes the recipe requires.
- Next, place a prepared cake tin on the scales, zero the scales, then spoon in the required amount of batter. Repeat for the remaining cakes.
13. Properly Prep The Pans
If you want your cake to come out of the tin in once piece, it is best to grease and line the tin. While properly preparing your baking tin may seem like a nuisance, it will save you a lot of time and mess in the end!
Lining a cake tin will also help preserve the non-stick surface of expensive cake pans making them last longer.
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Most cake recipes will say how to prepare the cake pans for baking, but if they don’t, you should do this:
13. 1 – Grease the inside of the cake tin with softened butter, by smearing it over the base and sides, leaving no part un-coated.
13.2 – Then cut a piece of baking paper to fit the base of the tin. This can be done by placing the tin on baking paper and trace around the base of the tin, then cut out the shape.
14. Always Preheat The Oven
Preheating is the action of heating the oven to the correct temperature before baking. It helps to speed up the cooking process and helps to evenly bake the cake
It usually takes about 15 minutes to preheat an oven. Although this can vary depending on the age of your oven. Older ovens can take longer to preheat, and some newer ovens have a fast preheat feature.
For most cakes it is best start preheating the oven just before you start the recipe. However, if the preparation of the cake takes longer than 30 minutes, start preheating the oven in the last 15 minutes or so of preparation time.
15. Bake On The Middle Rack
When baking, place the cake on the middle shelf of the oven. This will ensure even heat circulation around the cake. If the cake is placed on the top shelf where it is hotter the cake could burn before being fully baked. If placed on the bottom shelf where it is cooler, the baking time will need to be increased.
16. Watch For Oven Hot Spots
Most ovens have hot spots that will cause food to brown quicker than the rest. If you notice the cake is starting to brown quicker on one side, rotate the cake tin so that the browned part of the cake is on the opposite side, then continue baking.
17. Cover The Cake If It’s Browning To Quickly
If you are baking a cake and it is nearing the end of the baking time and it has browned on top but still not cooked, loosely over the top of the cake with a piece of aluminium foil. This will prevent further browning while the cake continues to cook.
18. Don’t Open The Oven Too Many Times
You may be eager to constantly check your cake to make sure that it does not burn or become over baked. However, if you open the oven door too often, hot air escapes causing the oven temperature to drop.
Because hot air has escaped, it will take time for the oven to come back up to the correct temperature, which will increase the cooking time.
19. Use A Timer
One useful thing to do is set a timer to go of about 5 to 10 minutes before the recipe says. This way you can check on the progress of the cake and will also help avoid over baking the cake.
20. Use The Baking Time As A Guide
Every oven is different so, use the baking times in the recipe as a guide. For example; the recipe might state “bake for 40 minutes” but, your oven may be a little hotter than one used for the recipe. In this case the cake could bake 5 – 10 minutes quicker that stated in the recipe. And if your oven is a little cooler it would take a slightly longer to bake the cake.
21. How To Tell If The Cake Is Done
To test if a cake is ready, you can press lightly in the centre. If it bounces back, it is ready.
Additionally, you can test it by poking a skewer in the centre. If the skewer comes out clean, the cake is ready. If not, and there are little bits of cake on the skewer, keep baking for a bit longer.
22. Protect Your Hands
Removing a cake tin from the oven can be dangerous as it is very hot. So always protect your hands with oven gloves, or if you don’t have any, use dry folded cloths, to remove the tin. This way, it reduces your chance of burning yourself.
23. Cool In The Tin
Once you have baked your cake and removed it from the oven, it is important to let it rest and cool in the tin for at least 5 to 10 minutes before you remove it from the tin.
This is because a freshly baked cake is very delicate and can be easily damaged. By allowing the cake to cool in the tin, it helps the cake to stiffen slightly making it easier to remove without damage.
24. Cool Cake On A Cake Rack
After the cake has cooled in the tin for 5 to 10 minutes, turn it out on to a wire cake rack to cool completely. Cake racks are slightly elevated and give even circulation of air around cake helping the cake to cool evenly.
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23.1 – If you have trouble removing the cake from the tin, gently run a knife around the sides of the tin. This will help to loosen the cake from the sides of the tin and making removing the cake easier.
23.2 – Once the cake is upside down on the cake rack, carefully peel away the baking paper on the bottom of the cake.
23.3 – If you need the cake cool in a hurry, place it in front of a fan.
25. Don’t Ice A Hot Cake
You may be eager to eat your cake and want to ice it as soon as it comes out of the oven.
Believe me, I’ve wanted to do that too! However, from past experience, it is important to have patience and wait until to cake has come to room temperature before you ice it.
If you ice the cake while it is still hot or warm, the icing will become runny causing a puddle of icing around the base of the cake.
Remember baking is like an art it can be both fun and frustrating at the same time. It is important to have patience and be relaxed as you learn this new skill.