Thursday, September 30, 2010

Baking a Cake

My last post was a recipe for the two most common cakes I have made. In it I discussed how to make a batter and scale it out for what you need. What I didn't touch upon was baking that cake and knowing when it is done. You may think (like I once did) just pour it in the pan and use a toothpick. But in truth there are a few simple steps to baking a cake that will come out correctly.

One of the most important things is to prep the pan properly. These steps work for most cakes (except angel food cake). First and I think one of the most important steps is to grease and flour the pan. I use butter to grease the pan. All you need to do is just put a pad of butter in the pan and push it around with your hand. Make sure all areas are covered. Next put a little bit of flour in the pan and shake it around till it is completely covered. I feel this is the most important step because it ensures the cake will come out of the pan. If it doesn't come out of the pan correctly then you don't have a cake--you have some wasted batter! I know some people use the canned spray to cover their pans and that is fine, but I just feel that I would rather not put chemicals into my food.

There are three ways to know a cake is done without using a toothpick. They are easy to remember and help you to know where your cake is at without putting holes everywhere.
1) Color - your cake should be a light brown color, darker than it started
2) Bounce back - you should be able to lightly press on the top of your cake and it should spring or bounce back. If it stays indented then the cake is not done yet.
3) Pulls away from pan - if you greased the pan correctly you should see the cake start to shrink away or pull away from the sides of the pan.

After the cake comes out of the oven, leave it sit for a minute then remove them from the pan onto a cooling rack. This is important so that the steam can be released from the inside of the cake into the air and not recirculated back by the walls of the pan.

Basic yellow butter cake before baking.

The same yellow butter cake after baking. Note how it is now light brown and has pulled away from the pan.

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