A Beginners Guide for Making Delicious Cakes

Do you struggle with baking? Do you often result in having a mess in your kitchen? Do you want to get better at it? Well you’re in luck because here is a guide for anyone who wants techniques for getting better at baking cakes. By following these strategies, I guarantee you that you will improve immensely in making cakes.

The most important thing you have to remember and the most basic rule is to stay organized as much as possible. Keeping yourself organized helps you keep a clean kitchen, find ingredients and utensils easily without a hassle, and you can move around faster and finish faster. One way of staying organized is taking out all your ingredients before starting to bake. This also includes utensils, measuring cups, bowls, and mixers. A tip for the ingredients is to take out your eggs and butter typically an hour before if you can so that they are at room temperature. You should also clean your work area before you begin. Another thing you should do before you begin is to preheat the oven. This is only a good idea if you know the preparation portion of the baking won’t take long. If you don’t preheat the oven the cake will not bake evenly.

When making the batter, there are a few things to take into consideration. Patience is key. Experience taught me not to rush baking because it ends up in disaster. Take the time to measure out all ingredients and when you do measure them, do it over the container of the ingredient or over the bowl you are mixing in. Have a small plate or some place to put utensils and avoid drips such as your whisk or spatula.You should always read the instructions carefully, especially if you are doubling the recipe. Read or write down the amount of an ingredient you have to put in the mix. Always grease the baking pan. Failure in doing so results in a cake being stuck to the pan. You can use wax paper or natural butter because those work best, but if oil sprays work for you then you can also use those. Spatulas are your best friends when pouring the batter into a pan. The plastic rubber ones especially get all the batter of the bowl.

When baking the actual cake, I wouldn’t recommend opening the oven door often because the heat escapes the oven and then the cake will not bake, but let’s say the baking time is 20-25 minutes, check at 20 minutes with a skewer and poke the middle of the cake. If the cake is still liquid and not spongy, wait for 5 or more minutes and check again. When taking the cakes out, letting them cool is crucial. If you immediately decorate without cooling the cakes, everything will melt off.

Decorating cakes is probably the best part about making cakes at least for me. I have been taught by my own mom to use heavy whipping cream to decorate, which can be harder to decorate with but much healthier than buttercream. If you are using heavy whipping cream you add half cup of sugar for 2 cups of cream. A technique for knowing when the consistency is good is called stiff peak which is when the consistency of the cream is good, creamy and solid that you can hold it over your head and it won’t fall off the bowl. Don’t try this unless you are absolutely sure it is the right consistency. 

Depending on how many layers of cake you have, you will start off with a layer of cake, then butter cream or heavy whipping cream in the middle which can be flavored to whatever you want.  then another layer of cake and so on.  I recommend that you put your layers into the fridge for a bit after you assembled so that the cake sets. Using a spatula, put your frosting of choosing first on top of the cake and make sure to over put the amount of cream so that you don’t hit the cake at the bottom and  the cream doesn’t have crumbs. After you have a nice thick layer of cream at the top you can begin to  put cream at the side of the cake. The first layer of applying the cream doesn’t have to be perfect at all; it just has to cover the cake.  After you have fully covered the cake you can put it in the fridge  so that it sets for now. Then you can take it out after it sets and clean up any errors and make sure that the  cake looks clean. I recommend you use a caking spatula because they have sharp edges that can clean up your cake. The rest of the process is up to you. You can decorate, with fruit, ganache, or whatever creative idea you have.

It may take you a while to perfect your baking techniques, but with practice, patience, and organization, your skills will automatically improve. I hope this information helps you as much as possible and have fun baking your cakes.

Diana Chavez – UChicago Lab School – DMSF