A couple of cake baking tips

Lisa and Paul's wedding cake

Found a couple of great tips today from the Epicurious website. Wanted to jot them down, before I forget.

First one about testing for doneness when baking a cake. Seems the old tried and trusted way of putting a skewer into the center and if it comes out clean it’s done is outdated and could be the reason why a cake turns out dry. Instead get out your kitchen thermometer and take it’s temperature! Here’s what Epicurious say about it all:

When to Take Your Cake’s Temperature

Avoid checking the temperature too early, which can interfere with the cake’s leavening (and of course let too much heat escape your oven). Instead, several minutes before the recipe’s baking time is up, turn on your oven light and take a peek at your cake through the door. Visual cues, like the cakes color becoming more golden or darker, are a good indication to get the thermometer going. Then give your cake a gentle poke. “Just press on the top and check to see if the cake springs back fully.” That’s a good sign to reach for the thermometer.

The Sweet Spot

There’s a small range of temperatures you’re looking for to achieve perfect cake doneness, says Allison. For denser cakes like flourless chocolate cake, carrot cake, and red velvet cake, an instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the cake (avoiding the bottom of the pan) should measure 200-205°F. For lighter cakes like angel food cake or sponge cake, the thermometer should measure 205-210°F. Just be sure to avoid 212°F and beyond, since that’s the temperature that water turns to steam, which means you’ll start losing precious moisture fast.”

Second tip I found out (also a great gluten free makeover) was instead of buttering and flouring your cake tin, you should use sugar in place of flour. The cake will result in a lovely crunchy sweet shell and for some unknown scientific reason, it doesn’t melt or stick onto the cake tin. Here’s an extract from the article that the author wrote about a cake he loved from his favorite restaurant at the time:

“Yes, I said “crunchy.” And I’m not talking about nuts (this cake was nut-free). Instead, I’m talking about a thin, glassy, almost-invisible layer that coated the cake’s exterior. The first time I ate this cake, I leaned down and took a close look. I saw that the cake was coated with thousands of tiny, half-melted sugar crystals. It looked as if the cake has been rolled in sugar, and yet not — the sugar was baked into the cake’s crust.

I was a restaurant reporter at the time, so the next day I called the pastry chef and asked how he had given the cake that crispy, sugary edge. He stuttered and stammered, as if he didn’t know the answer. Really, the answer was just so obvious that he didn’t think it would suffice.

“I line the pan with sugar instead of flour,” he said.”

I’m definitely trying this one out for my next cake!