How often have we all made a great recipe but something has gone wrong?
The simplest of recipes are often ruined by simply not knowing little tips.
Baking tips seem to be the most requested topics on ask jo. So due to public demand here are a few more of my classic tips or further explanations.
I tend to use non fan forced for baking cakes, but tis is my personal preference. If you can turn off the fan please do. I personally I like aneven steady oven temperature. Often the dryness and harsh nests of a fan oven can cause cakes to crack. If your recipe is old fashioned and ‘like grandma would make’. Turn of that fan (again if
The best rule is to place the pan into the oven so the TOP of the cake pan is in the middle of the oven. I find generally I bake on the shelves in the bottom third of the oven. Except pizza or dishes I want very crispy.
Lining the pan:
Yes I am liner! Even if the pan is a super doper non stick, I love the texture of the outside of the cake when baking paper is used. I love to line the base and sides. Often I will allow the paper to raise above the tin to produce a little collar. This always helps with a flat top result. If there is not a collar, the cake will tend to want to peak in the middle. This however can be caused by a titch too much liquid also.
This peak can be trimmed off and the cake served upside down so no ones knows! But it is better without any peak. Peaks are also caused by the incorrect sized cake pan.
The cold bowl!
Butter and eggs do not beat or whip if cold! The remedy is to warm the bowl. Either by filling the bowl with warm water and setting aside for a few minutes or washing the bowl in warm water. If using a stainless steel bowl you can also gently move it over a gas flame to warm.
Essential the beginning to most cakes. The volume and texture of the cake depends on this. Cream until the butter and sugar and very very light and fluffy. The sugar needs to be almost completely dispensed through the butter. Often many just do not cream enough.
Buy a nice heathly free range and large mimimum 60g. Always best stored in the fridge for freshness, but don’t use for cakes and baking if cold and stright from the fridge. The egg if added cold to the creamed butter and sugar will not want to incorporate into the mixture. This will effect the volumn and end texture of the cake. Sit the eggs in a bowl of warm water until ready to use. Drain and add to the creamed mixture. Make sure you only add one egg at a time and beat well
in between each addition.
Buy the best you can afford. Cake flour which is lower in protein produces a softer result. Often I add a couple of teaspoons of cornflour mixed with normal plain flour. This is a sneaky substitute to cake flour. I do not sift in the old fashioned way. Goodness I hate sifting. Simply add the flours of choice add the fla beater or whisk to the standmixer, pop on the food shield and turn to speed 1. You can also add into the flours to the food processor with the all purpose blade and pulse. The mixer or processor will sift and combine for you.
I always prefer to use plain flour and add my own raising agent. There is a rule of thumb for this.
Normally speaking 1 cup flour (150g) plain flour needs 2 teaspoons of baking powder….but this depends on the recipe. Baking powder is made of cream of tartar and bicarb soda. There is often a filler such as cornflour. One is an acid the other alkaline, the two react to give the raising. Self raising flour has the raising agents added, the trouble is it is often stale and produces a denser result.
There are two common types - mixture and pure. If you want a firmer icing use pure! “Sift’ as above to remove any lumps.
Use a timer:
I always use a cooking timer either on the bench or some microwaves have a setting to use the clock. A cake is so easily ruined with a simple extra 5 minutes of unneeded cooking!
Cooling a ‘must’ before icing.
If icing you just must completely cool. Even I am guilty of thinking it will be fine icing the cake and yes finding the icing has melted off and is now all over the bench. The icing on a warm cake also produces a soggy top… …. all in all just wait for the
cake to be cold!
A fluffy icing can be make up to 1 day in advance, but make sure you remove from the refrigerator and allow to come up to room temperature.
Any other queries, please contact me on ask jo.