No birthday is complete without a good cake. Whether you’re in charge of whipping one up for the one in-law you don’t hate or the child you secretly love most, it’s always best to skip the imitation cream-filled shop cakes and make it yourself. However, it’s no surprise that many people find this rather large task to be quite daunting. But worry not, as we have the perfect guide for you to follow.
Before you know it, the birthday songs will be sung, and the candle fires will be all but smoke. You cut the cake and serve it onto the wobbly paper plates, hoping it doesn’t end in disaster. And then the compliments pour in and you can stand proudly knowing you’re the master of cakes. So, whether it’s a simple fluffy vanilla cake or death by chocolate, here are some simple tips on how to do it right.
Precision Is Essential
Chances are you’ve got a lot going on and you might be in a bit of a rush, but this is no time to skimp on effort. Ensure that every measurement is correct and follow the steps in the order that they appear. Also make sure that the oven is preheated for 10-15 minutes and is at the correct temperature afterwards. Too cold and the cake won’t rise, too hot and you’ll be making a strange baguette.
That said, it isn’t necessary to get the most extravagant ingredients either. After all, cakes aren’t cheap. Check out Pocket Change Gourmet for some ideas.
The Right Tools
Pans are quite important. Too large and your cake will be flat, too small and the batter could overflow. If you’re making a cake with dark ingredients such as chocolate, be sure to use a non-stick pan that absorbs heat faster than shiny pans. On the flip side, use a shiny pan for lighter cakes as they’ll reflect heat and ensure there’s not too much browning.
Cooling the Cake
If there aren’t any instructions included for the removal of your cake after baking, the general rule is to allow about 10 minutes of cooling your cake on the rack before moving forward. If it still sticks to the pan, stick it in the oven for a minute and the problem should be solved.
There are generally two types of bags you can get. There’s the resealable plastic bag, which can be used with or without the coupler that’s necessary for changing decorating tips. Then there’s the more simple disposable parchment paper, which is better suited for simple bakes.
This deceptively simple process should go as follows: Brush off any loose crumbs and start with the bottom layer. Spread between a third and half a cup of frosting on this layer. Then, place the second layer and stick a thin coating of icing on the sides to seal in the crumbs. Then simply cover the rest in a swirling motion.
A few accessories here, some candles there, sprinkles everywhere and you should have yourself a pretty solid birthday cake. Be sure to make it your own with some extra ingredients such as cut up chocolate bars or jelly beans.