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Cake Baking Skills: Essential Hints & Tips

Ingredients set out for baking a cake

Cake Baking Hints

  • Preheating the Oven: Preheat your oven to 325-335 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes before placing cake pans inside. Use an oven thermometer to ensure the correct temperature. Baking at a lower temperature promotes even baking and may take longer to bake.

  • Prepare Cake Pans: Grease only the bottom of cake pans to allow for better rising. After baking, immediately run a knife along the edges to release the cake from the pan.

  • Parchment Paper or Pan Grease: Line the cake pan with parchment paper or Pan Grease recipe: 1 cup shortening, 1 cup flour, 3/4 cup vegetable oil; Combine ingredients, mix well with electric mixer and store in airtight container. You may keep a supply of the pan grease mixture in a covered container, use when needed. (Refrigeration is required in hot weather)

  • Room Temperature Ingredients: All cold ingredients should be room temperature prior to mixing ingredients.

  • Follow Mixing Instructions: For cake mixes, follow the mixing time precisely according to the brand. Accurate measurement is crucial for wet and dry ingredients. Extra-large eggs yield the best results.

  • Fill Cake Pans Correctly: Fill cake pans no more than half to two-thirds full to prevent overflow. Tap the pans on the counter to remove air bubbles.

  • Equal Batter Distribution: Weighing the batter with a kitchen scale ensures equal distribution between cake pans for uniform layers.

  • Oven Placement: Avoid placing two-layer cake pans on the same rack to prevent uneven rising. Maintain at least 2 inches of space between pans and oven walls for even baking.

  • Rotate Cake Layers: If baking on separate oven racks, rotate the layers halfway through baking for consistent results, especially if your oven has uneven heat distribution.

  • Testing for Doneness: Cake layers are done when they start to pull away from the pan's sides or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  • Cooling Process: Allow cake layers to cool in the pans for 15 to 30 minutes. Cooling on a rack prevents the bottoms from becoming wet. If no space is available for racks, cool in cakes in pans on rack, wrap pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

  • Hump in Middle of Cake: If cake layer has a hump in the middle, immediately flip over onto another cake rack so cake is resting on flat bottom and not on hump. This will prevent the cake from cracking in half. Make sure to level cake by cutting evenly.

  • Torte Cakes: Cakes to be filled or frosted should be fully cooled and refrigerated one day prior, for ease or torting, filling, handling, crumb coating and frosting.

  • Turning Out Cakes: Be cautious when removing cakes from pans. Warm cakes may crack if turned out too quickly, while cold cakes may stick to the pan. If cake is cold/refrigerated in pan, make sure to cut around cake to release from cake pan, heat bottom of pan slightly on stove to release from pan.

  • Storage Tips: Fully cool or bake cakes one day ahead before splitting, filling, or frosting. Cakes can be frozen for up to three months and should be thawed in refrigerator completely before decorating.

  • Refrigeration: Refrigerate all cakes to maintain freshness. Buttercream cakes are best served at room temperature, while whipped cream cakes are ideal when served cold.

Butter, eggs, flower, milk and sugar set out on a counter

Troubleshooting Cake Baking Problems

  • Cake Did Not Rise: Ensure proper oven temperature, fresh ingredients, and correct mixing techniques.

  • Cake Fell or Dipped: Avoid under-baking, excessive liquid, or over-beating the batter.

  • Cake Overflows Pan: Use appropriate pan size, evenly divide batter, and maintain proper oven temperature.

  • Cakes Stick to Pan: Properly grease pans, heat and loosen cakes before removing.

  • Cake Wet or Moist: Ensure thorough baking and cooling before frosting or storing.

  • Uneven Browning: Preheat the oven, use quality pans, and ensure even rack placement.

  • Cake Difficult to Frost: Allow cakes to cool completely, brush away excess crumbs, and use a thin crumb coat before frosting.

  • Cake Broke When Assembling: Store cakes properly, provide adequate support, and ensure level stacking.

Cake Storage and Freezing Guidelines

Ensuring the longevity and freshness of cakes requires proper storage techniques. Here are some professional recommendations:

Cake Storage Hints:

  • Cakes can be frozen for up to three months when wrapped in heavy-duty foil. Thaw them completely in refrigerator before frosting or decorating to prevent frosted cakes from developing air bubbles once fully thawed and adorned.

  • Iced cakes can be frozen for six months to one year if stored in an airtight container or a cake box wrapped with freezer wrap or heavy-duty foil, followed by placement in a plastic bag. Maintain the cake wrapped until fully thawed during defrosting.

  • Un-iced cakes should not exceed 24 hours of room temperature storage.

  • Refrigeration is recommended for all cakes to preserve their freshness. Buttercream cakes are best served at room temperature, while whip cream cakes are ideal when served cold.

Additional Insights:

  • While freezing cakes before frosting is not typically advised, if chosen, ensure complete thawing before frosting. Although cakes can endure freezing for up to three months, it's advisable not to freeze wedding cakes longer than one week before the event to uphold optimal freshness.

  • Refrigerating cake layers facilitates ease of handling during filling and assembly for birthday and wedding cakes. After assembly, providing a rough coat of frosting helps seal in freshness until ready for final frosting or fondant covering.

A beautiful wedding cake on a decorated table

Freezing the Top Tier of Wedding Cake:

  • The tradition of preserving the top tier for the couple's one-year anniversary necessitates meticulous sealing and storage.

  • Provide the bride and groom with a cake box of appropriate size to accommodate their top tier. Include detailed instructions in the box, elucidating proper sealing and freezer storage.

  • Place the top tier in the cake box and seal it entirely with heavy-duty foil or freezer wrap to maintain freshness. Before the anniversary date, remove the cake from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator, still completely sealed, to defrost overnight.

  • On the anniversary day, carefully remove the cake from the box, serve, and savor the delightful memories.


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