Better Bakers Box Tips and Tricks for Baking

Whether you're baking with cake mix or baking cakes from scratch, these helpful hints will save you both time and money in the kitchen. From sunken cakes to dry cakes, these tips and tricks will give you the knowledge you need to make perfect cakes every time.

If you want to become a cake baking pro, the first thing you'll want to do is check to make sure your oven is heating at the correct temperature. If you've ever experienced common cake baking problems such as a sunken or collapsed cake, this could be because your oven isn't getting as hot as it says it is. An oven that's too hot could cause a dry cake. Invest in an oven thermometer -- your cakes (and cake tasters) will thank you! 

General Tips & Tricks:

  • -Cakes baked in glass versus metal bake differently. If using glass, you'll want to lower your oven temperature by 25 degrees.
  • -Preheat your oven before you start mixing and prepping -- it's best if the oven is preheated for 20 to 30 minutes at the proper baking temperature.
  • -Be sure to use the correct pan size called for in the recipe. 
  • -Fat, eggs, and liquid (eggs, butter, milk, etc.) should generally be used at room temperature. Cold ingredients could cause the batter to curdle.
  • -When combining butter and sugar, take your time to cream them together -- beat or cream together for at least 5 minutes. This helps to ensure a lighter cake, as it adds tiny air pockets to the batter. Sugar granules shouldn't be visible, but you can still feel them if you rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers.
  • -Measure flour and other dry ingredients exactly. Use a knife or other flat surface to level off dry ingredients in a measuring cup or spoon.
  • -And don't skip the sifting! This step helps to add air and ensures that all dry ingredients are properly combined. If you don't have a sifter, you can use a wire mesh strainer.
  • -When baking foam cakes like angel food cake, take great care when adding the flour to the beaten egg whites. Fold the flour in three stages, very gently so that you don't lose the airy volume of the egg whites -- this is what keeps the cake so light.
  • -Generally, the cake batter should fill the pan by at least 1/2 and not more than 2/3, unless otherwise instructed.
  • -Try to bake the cake in the middle of the oven and, if baking more than one cake at a time, don't crowd them together, or they will bake unevenly.
  • -For crumb-free slices, run your knife under hot water and dry it before cutting into the cake. 

Common Problems & How To Avoid:

  • -Dry Cake: As mentioned above, this could be caused by an oven that's too hot. You may need to calibrate your oven or bake at a lower temperature. You may also have baked your cake for too long. Alternatively, a dry cake can be caused by too much flour or baking powder.
  • -Sunken Cake: This can be caused by too much liquid, or an oven that's not hot enough. If the oven isn't hot enough, this could actually be a result of opening the oven door too many times while your cake is baking. In general, try to wait until the cake is nearly finished baking before you open the door.
  • -Difficulty Removing Cake from Pan: Make sure to properly grease and flour the pan before you add the batter. You may also want to try lining the bottom of your pan with parchment paper, especially when baking layer cakes. Be sure to remove the cake from the pan at the right time; allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes, then invert it onto a plate or rack to remove it from the pan and allow it to cool completely.

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Courtesy of Mr. Food