No home cooking is more popular now than baking, but it’s not always as easy as it looks. Unlike cooking, baking is a fairly precise art to get things just right, so we’ve put together 10 top tips to make your cakes as scrummy as they can be.
1. Don’t let them sink!
Sometimes your cakes will sink in the middle, giving you an unattractive dip in the middle that can’t always be covered up with icing. Avoid it completely by waiting as long as possible before opening the oven door, as this can cause the sink. A cake taken out too early will sink too, so try and stick to your times.
2. Know when it’s cooked.
It’s been in there for about the right time, but you’re still not quite sure. If you’ve made a sponge cake, poke it gently with a knife. It should be shrinking a little from the sides of the tin, springy when prodded and a pale gold colour. If you’re making a fruit cake however, carefully poke a skewer through the middle – it should come out clean and not covered in cake mix.
3. Use the right ingredients.
It’s tempting to skimp on ingredients if you haven’t quite got the right thing in the house, but with baking it really will make all the difference. Especially made cake flour has very little protein, making sure your cakes will be extra-light and fluffy. If you use bread flower, it could be too dense and stodgy. Using normal granulated sugar instead of caster sugar can cause a grainy finish to your cake, as it won’t blend and dissolve properly in the mixture.
It’s easy to forget the little things, such as eggs should be at room temperature when baking, flour should be sifted into the mixture and the baking tray should be greased enough for the cake not to stick. Get all that stuff out of the way first to prevent a mid-cake nightmare.
5. Feeling fruity?
Feel like putting banana in your cake on a whim? Awesome, it’ll taste amazing. Make sure to adjust your recipe though so it’s not too solid or wet before baking. Bananas are also far easier to work with when they’re ripe, so if yours are a little on the hard side just bake them in the oven at roughly 150 centigrade for about 30 minutes, letting them cool for 20. When you open them they’ll be super soft and ready to work with.
Just like avoiding the ever-dreaded cake sinkage, be patient with your cakes and leave your cake to cool completely before you start to ice it. It will make your life so much easier, as the icing won’t melt, run or sink into the sponge.
7. Perfect icing shapes.
If you don’t have fancy equipment or fondant icing at hand to create beautiful patterns, you can still create neat and tidy shapes with your icing. Outline your shape with writing icing and leave to set before slowly spooning in the liquid icing sugar icing into the shapes. Use slow, circular motions to fill the shape and make sure to stay within the lines!
Have you got any tips and tricks for newbie bakers? Let us know in the comments! But, if you’re really not much of a baker after all, try some of our restaurants serving Afternoon Tea – perfect destinations for cake and a cuppa. Using Go dine to search by your location and then by offer will help you narrow down your search for affordable afternoon tea too. Happy eating!