Cakes are the centerpiece for every occasion – weddings, birthdays, chilling on the sofa watching Netflix…that’s an occasion, right?
Anyway! We all know you just can’t go wrong with cake. It’s the ultimate comfort food.
But, making cake can be quite challenging if you are new to the world of baking.
Here are some of the best top 10 cake tips that will help you make the perfect cake every time.
Find a recipe that works
If you are new to making cakes and don’t have a set recipe that you use, do some research and find a recipe that has been tried and tested.
Looking for recipes on Google with 4.5+ star ratings and comments by people who have made it is a good place to start.
When a recipe is rated high and has lots of comments it means 2 things; 1) that it is popular and 2) that it is fool proof (usually)
Google is my go to when I am baking something new.
Read the recipe to the tee and stick to it!
This might seem obvious but READ THE RECIPE.
I have made plenty of baking mistakes, and most of those mistakes were made because I didn’t read the recipe properly or I tried to tweak it.
Before you start baking your cake, take a minute to read through the recipe. Familiarise yourself with all the ingredients and the method used.
Once you have read the recipe and know what ingredients are used, stick to those ingredients and don’t change them!
Things can go wrong when you start substituting ingredients, especially if you are not confident in the kitchen yet.
Unless the recipe specifically states that you can substitute one ingredient for another, try to stick to the original ingredients set out in the recipe.
Use room temperature ingredients
This tip only really applies when you are using eggs and butter in your cake recipe.
If eggs are used straight from the fridge, they won’t break down as easily when you mix them in with the rest of the ingredients.
If your eggs are cold, it will also take slightly longer for your cake to bake in the oven.
The term ‘room temperature’ can be deceiving though, ‘cause really, what is classed at room temperature?!
With your eggs, just leave them out for about an hour before you bake your cake so they come up to room temperature.
If you forget to take your eggs out of the fridge, pop them in a bowl with some warm water for 5 minutes.
When a recipe calls for room temperature butter, test the firmness of the butter rather than the temperature of the room.
You want your butter to be squeezably soft, makes an indent when pressed in with your finger and isn’t too greasy or too stiff.
Measure ingredients accurately
A lot of American cake recipes will have their measurement cups or ounces.
I find that using grams and weighing ingredients with kitchen scales is much more accurate.
If you do use a recipe that measures in cups, make sure you don’t have heaped cups.
Level out the ingredients with a knife to make sure you get the measurements right.
Adding too much of one ingredient will affect the overall texture and taste of the cake so measuring ingredients properly is key in making the perfect cake.
Don’t over mix – don’t under mix
Over mixing can be the worst thing you can do to your cake. If you over-mix, you will put too much air into the batter causing your cake to collapse in the oven.
If you are going to do one or the other, under-mixing slightly is the safer option.
Grease pans properly
Grease your pans even if you are using non-stick cake pans. This will ensure that your cake won’t get stuck when you are trying to remove it.
You can grease your pans with some melted butter or non-stick spray.
Alternatively, you can line your pans with parchment paper. But, be sure to grease the parchment too so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of your cake.
Lower oven temperature
Low and slow is the best way to get beautiful flat, spongy cake layers. If your recipe doesn’t say it already, bake your cake at 160C/325F degrees to avoid any domes in the middle.
Keep in mind that this means your cake will have to bake longer. Poke your cake with a skewer to test if it is done.
Don’t open the oven
As tempting as it might be, opening the oven too soon might be just about the worst thing you can do to your cake (maybe worse than over-mixing!).
Opening the oven too soon will cause the cake to cave in and sink in the middle.
If you want to check your cake for doneness, open the oven around 5 minutes before your timer goes off. If it’s done, remove from the oven and let it cool on a cooling rack.
Cool your sponge on a cooling rack
After you take your cake out of the oven, let it sit in the tin for a few minutes and then transfer it on a cooling rack to fully cool down.
Don’t leave your cake to cool down completely in the pan as it can get quite sweaty for the cake and stick to the bottom.
A cooling rack allows the air to circulate all around the cake, so if you don’t have one, it’s time to invest in one!
Level out cakes after they have cooled down
If you haven’t mastered the art of baking perfectly flat cake layers, don’t worry!
Bake your cakes like normal and if needed, level them out once they have fully cooled down with a knife or a cake leveller.
Make sure you let your cakes cool down completely before levelling them out. If you attempt to level a cake while it’s still hot, the cake will turn into a crumbly mess.
BONUS TIP: Prepare your ingredients beforehand
I feel like this tip is definitely worth the mention as it really helped me when I started off baking.
Before you start mixing and beating, gather all the ingredients for your cake and measure them out into small bowls or ramekins.
Having all your ingredients measured out and ready to go is extremely helpful.
Preparing everything beforehand not only saves you from having to go to and from your cupboard or pantry to get each ingredient out as you bake, it also minimises the risk of missing any ingredients out.
And, not to mention it makes adding each ingredient to the mixing bowl so much easier! You might have to do some extra cleaning at the end but it’s totally worth it!
With these tips, you’ll be making perfect cakes every single time! You can also take a look at Cupcake Jemma’s Masterclass on how to make cake which I have found to be very useful.