Have you ever tried baking a cake from scratch and had the resulting cake function better as a doorstop than a cake? Or…try to make meringue and find you can’t get the egg whites to form stiff peaks? Maybe you baked a cake and then destroyed it trying to get it out of the pan? Read my Three Tips and I promise you’ll start getting better results!
1. For lighter, fluffier cakes. When mixing your cake batter for a butter-based cake let your butter come to room temperature first. If you cut the butter into tablespoon-sized pieces first, you’ll get a better result. Once the butter is at room temperature you can start creaming it. Don’t rush this process. Beat the butter for at least 1 full minute before going on to the next step. Then gradually add your sugar a few tablespoons at a time. Once all the sugar is in the mixture, continue to beat on a high speed for another two minutes. The sugar will cut holes in the fat molecules, which will cause the fat molecules to hold more air, and this will produce a fluffy, light cake.
2. For a perfect meringue. Eggs separate best when they are cold. I still use the method my mother taught me and use the half egg shells to pour the egg’s contents back and forth until the white and yolk are separated. It is a good practice to separate the eggs one at a time into a cup, and then add them to the rest of the egg whites, if any of the egg yolk gets into the whites your meringue won’t ever get stiff. Once you have all the egg whites together that you need for your recipe, let them sit until they reach room temperature before beating them. Eggs at room temperature will foam better than eggs that are cold. It is also helpful if when you start to mix the egg whites you add 1/4 teaspoon of Cream of Tartar to the mix. The acid in it helps to stabilize the foam you create so it maintains its volume. Start the mixer on slow speed until the eggs begin to get bubbly, and then turn up the speed to high to finish the job. You’ll know when you’ve achieved stiff peaks by lifting off the balloon whisk and holding it upside down. When you are stiff peak stage the bit of meringue clinging to the whisk will stand straight up and not droop over.
3. Get your cakes out of the pan easily. The best method I have found for preparing baking pans for cakes is to first spray them with cooking spray. Then, line the pan with either wax paper or parchment paper (some people say they can taste wax if they use wax paper, I can’t but everyone is different). After lining the pan with the paper of choice spray it again with cooking spray. When you are ready to get the cake out of the pan, lightly tug on the paper and the cake will come out of the pan easily. Bonus; the pan is very easy to clean. Then peel the paper off of the cake and voila! No mess, no fuss, no bother!
I hope these three tips have been helpful! Baking desserts from scratch can be very rewarding. First, they taste better. Second there is a satisfaction from doing it on your own. People will be really impressed with your abilities, and it’s fun! With a few simple tips from someone with some experience, you can have better results!
If you like this article or find it helpful please leave me a comment below. I’m thinking about writing more articles like this, and your response will help to encourage me.