Whether you’re a culinary newbie or an experienced professional, lots of things can go wrong in the kitchen. Find out what went wrong so that you can avoid making the same mistake again. It also helps you better understand the processes behind baking.
While you can design a cake online, there’s nothing like a home-baked cake. Baking is close to an exact science, and there are many things you can do to ensure a favorable outcome. Similarly, small mistakes here and there can lead to a baking catastrophe. Here are a few pointers to help you bake the perfect cake:
1.Stick to the recipe
One of the most important things you need to do is to follow the recipe to the letter. Many people fail to do this, resulting in a poor cake or worse. We often do this in cooking, and many of us carry this habit over to baking.
For example, some items might not be available, so we use substitutes: egg whites instead of whole eggs, or regular flour instead of cake flour. Or maybe you’re on a diet, so you reduce the amount of sugar used. Unless the recipe has indicated suggested substitutions, do not do this.
Failure to stick to the recipe will result in wasted effort, time, money, and food. Baking is a science, and every ingredient has a purpose. A failed bake is often caused by a recipe that wasn’t exactly followed. If you’re the type to experiment, do the recipe first and make changes in your future bakes.
2. Use the right pan
Recipes often specify the type of pan used. If the recipe calls for a 10-inch square pan, do not substitute with a 10-inch round pan or a 6-inch square pan. The wrong pan will affect the baking process, resulting in increased density, sunken centers, or overflowing.
If you don’t have the required pan, as a rule of thumb, always go a bit higher: if you need a 6-inch cake pan, you can use a 7-inch cake pan instead.
3. Learn to measure the right way
One common mistake that amateur bakers do is not measuring properly. The difference between the perfect cake and a collapsed one could be one tablespoon of an ingredient. That’s why you must learn how to measure the proper way.
For instance, many people don’t know how to measure flour accurately. Most people scoop the powder out of the bag with a measuring cup. Do not do this. Scooping with cup results packs the flour in, and you could get more than what’s required. Instead, use a spoon to scoop flour into the cup. Do not tap the cup and remove excess flour by leveling off the top with the spoon handle.
4. Do not open the oven while baking
Under no circumstances should you open the oven while the cake is baking. Opening the door lets cool air into the oven, and the sudden change in temperature will affect the baking process and prolong the baking time. In some cases, it could even lead to cake collapse.
Baking is half art and half science, which is why accuracy and precision are required to ensure a perfectly baked cake. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for experimentation. You can have fun with the decoration, or you can experiment with substitutes once you’ve mastered the original recipe.