I’ve baked dozens of cakes, certainly hundreds of cupcakes, in my time- and while I’d like to be able to say that they were all mouthwatering successes, the truth is that I’ve had more than my fair share of failed cakes. The problem with cake baking, you see, is that it’s so very easy to screw up- all it takes is one forgotten ingredient, or one stir too many on your stand mixer, or forgetting to set the kitchen timer…
Today, I share with you Part One of my essential tips for cake baking. Hopefully, they bring you many deliciously successful cakes:
Take your measurements seriously. It’s all very well to dump in a little bit of this and that when cooking, but baking requires precision. After realizing that a one-cup measuring cup differed so much from another, I bit the bullet, bought a weighing scale, and use that to measure almost all my ingredients. I recommend the wonderfully affordable Escali Primo Digital Multifunctional Scale.
Use fresh ingredients. You wouldn’t use rancid butter or rotten eggs in your cooking or baking, and you want to make sure everything else is fresh as well. Check your flour for bugs, the expiration date of your baking powder and baking soda, and so on. Trust me, it matters.
Measure out everything first. It’s called mise en place – literally, “put in place” in French – and here’s its description from Wikipedia:
Recipes are reviewed, to check for necessary ingredients and equipment. Ingredients are measured out, washed, chopped and placed in individual bowls. Equipment such as spatulas and blenders are prepared for use, while ovens are preheated. Preparing the mise en place ahead of time allows the chef to cook without having to stop and assemble items, which is desirable in recipes with time constraints.
Don’t rely completely on the recipe. Why? Because cookbook and recipe writers and editors are only human- they make mistakes too. If something strikes you as very odd, like a missing ingredient or a method that doesn’t make sense, stop and think about it. Go online and search for user reviews on the recipe.
Tomorrow I’ll be posting Part 2 of my Cake Baking Tips, where we’ll tackle mixing and beating and other good things.