Trying to create the perfect cake at home can be frustrating. It is up there with when you get your haircut and then spend weeks trying to style it in the same way the stylist did when finishing your cut. If anything, it is even worse, because you start to get annoyed with yourself, and many would-be bakers find themselves giving up and never putting their mind to making a cake ever again once they’ve made a handful of mistakes.
Anyone who has ever tried to bake anything, or even read a recipe, will know that “light and fluffy” is the only option when it comes to cupcakes. Many a frustrated baker will find that their cakes look and taste amazing when they’re only just out of the oven, but go wrong when they start to cool down. This is the last thing you want to happen, but it probably shows you aren’t too far away from a perfect cake. If you’re in the frustrated baker camp, you’re probably wondering what you can do to stop your recipes going wrong.
Here are some tips that should help you unlock the secret to light and fluffy cakes.
Keep Ingredients at Room Temperature
How often do we bake and go to grab everything we need out of the fridge? Yes, we’re looking at you eggs, milk, and butter.
We’re not suggesting you leave them on the kitchen worktop the night prior to baking, but you should get them out beforehand so they’re the same ambient temperature of the other ingredients you’re going to use, particularly flour and sugar.
Doing this will help with the consistency of the cake and deliver a lighter, fluffier creation with a great taste.
Always Use a Sieve
Some recipes will tell you to use a sieve to add flour, sugar, and other selected ingredients, while some don’t. When you encounter a recipe that doesn’t tell you to use a sieve, do you make sure you use one anyway?
If not, it is time to start doing it. Not only does it prevent any ungainly lumps from making their way into your recipe, it also makes it much easier to mix, which we’ll look at now.
Mixing: Do What the Recipe Says
Hands up everyone who keeps mixing even when the ingredients are clearly combined? Many of us do it, usually under the banner of “just making sure,” but some of us get it into our heads that we ought to continue mixing until all the air has disappeared from a mixture and it has been beaten within an inch of its life.
Just don’t do it.
The ingredients only need to be combined, so when they’re combined, stop mixing. Likewise, if you’re using an electronic whisk or mixer, and a recipe says mix for two minutes on low, mix it for two minutes on low.
Calibrate Your Oven
It is impossible to overstate the importance of ensuring your oven is the right temperature. Yes, you can turn the dial to 160° and put your cakes in the oven, but is the temperature actually 160°, or is it higher or lower? The temperature of the oven directly influences the length of time you need to cook for, but simply compensating for one with the other isn’t an exact science guaranteed to work every time.
Get your oven calibrated, and either find out the “real” temperature of your oven against what the dial says, or take steps to get it fixed.
Following these four simple tips will make a big difference to the quality of your cakes, and should make light and fluffy the standard occurrence rather than something you achieve occasionally and put down to luck.