Cake Baking Tips

Ingredients:

Invest in good chocolate, fruit fillings, nuts etc. You will taste the difference if you start with the best ingreedients.
Always use fresh eggs. Eggs separate best when cold, but egg whites whip up best at room temperature.
Butter gives the best flavor.A cake is a treat. Live a little!

Mixing:

  • Prepare all the necessary ingredients.
  • Before mixing the batter, prepare the pans, turn the oven on, and make sure the rack is in the center.
  • Have all ingredients at room temperature for best results.
  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy or as long as the recipe directs.
  • Always sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices to avoid lumps.
  • To speed up the softening of cold butter, slice and let stand for about 10 minutes.
  • Toss nuts, raisins and fruits in the batter last. This will avoid color bleeding.
  • Scrape sides and bottom of bowl frequently with a rubber spatula during mixing.
  • Spread batter evenly in pans.

Baking:

  • Turn on oven 10-15 minutes before you plan to use it to allow time for it to heat to baking temperature.
  • Generously grease inside of pan with solid vegetable shortening. Use pastry brush to spread shortening evenly, making sure all inside surfaces are well covered. Dust with flour, tap out excess. If shiny spots remain, touch up with more shortening and flour, or use vegetable pan spray.
  • Position pans as near to center of oven as possible. Pans should not touch sides of oven or each other.
  • Test your cakes for doneness while they’re still in the oven. Because of differences in individual oven controls, be sure to test your cake for doneness according to package or recipe directions. Cake is done when the sides shrink slightly away from the pan and a cake tester or toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  • Cool cake in pan 10 – 15 minutes before loosening the edge and turning it out onto a wired rack to cool.
  • To remove cake easily from pan, place double thickness paper towel over wire rack. The towel prevents the wire bars from breaking the crust or leaving imprints on top of cake. A clean oven rack or refrigerator shelf can be used for larger layers. Place covered rack over top of cake. Invert cake and rack at least one hour before decorating. Then brush loose crumbs off cake.

Frosting:

  • Chill the cake between the filling and the frosting. The cake will be much easier to work with.
  • Apply a thin layer of frosting to the cake then refrigerate until it is set before applying the final, heavier layer of frosting. This will seal in the crumbs, ensuring a clean final appearance.

When good cakes go bad

You thought you had a good cake, but lately he’s been hanging out with the wrong crowd – some tough cookies. Soon he’s staying out late and coming home reeking of alcohol-based vanilla extract. Before you know it your angel ( food) is on a one way street to culinary reform school.

It’s tough when good cakes go bad — and here are some of the most common reasons:

In General:

If the cake rose unevenly in the oven:

  • The flour was not blended sufficiently into the main mixture.
  • The temperature inside the oven was uneven.
  • The oven temperature was too high.
  • If the batter overflowed the pans:
  • Make sure you used the right size pan. The uncooked mixture should fill the pan by no more than two-thirds.

Cakes That Use Separately-beaten Egg Whites And Yolks

If the cake is dense and heavy:

  • The eggs were too small. Always use large eggs when baking.
  • Insufficient air was whisked into the egg and sugar mixture.
  • The flour was not folded in gently. Always mix in the flour at the lowest speed.
  • The melted butter was too hot when added, causing it to sink down through the whisked foam.
  • The oven temperature was too low.

If the top of the cake dropped:

  • The oven temperature was too hot.
  • The cake was not cooked long enough.
  • The oven door was opened too soon, which created a draft.

Cakes That Use Creamed Butter And Sugar Mixtures

If the batter curdles and separates:

  • The ingredients were not at room temperature.
  • The butter and sugar were not creamed together well enough before adding the eggs.
  • The eggs were added too quickly.
  • If the cake’s texture is too heavy:
  • The butter, sugar and eggs were not beaten together long enough.
  • The flour was beaten at too high a speed.
  • Too much flour was added to the creamed mixture.
  • The oven temperature was not hot enough.


If the top of the cake peaks and cracks:

  • The oven temperature was too hot, causing the outside of the cake to bake and form a crust too quickly. As the mixture in the center of the cake continued to cook and rise, it burst up through the top of the cake.
  • The cake wasn’t baked on the center rack of the oven.
  • If raisins, dried fruit and nuts sunk to the bottom:
  • The pieces of fruit were too large and too heavy.
  • The sugary syrup on the outside of the fruit was not washed off- this caused the pieces of fruit to slide through the mixture as it heated.
  • The washed and dried fruit was not dusted with flour before being added to the mixture.
  • The cake mixture was over beaten or was too wet so it could not hold the fruit in place.
  • The oven temperature was too low, causing the mixture to melt before it set to hold the fruit in place.


Home of the Cake Baker

Visit the Home of the Cake Baker.  Full of wonderful recipes for all types of cakes from chocolate cakes and cheesecakes  to cupcakes, wedding cake and much more.

43 Comments

  1. Colleen said

    August 7 2008 @ 8:37 am

    This is wonderful information. I am starting to do more catering for larger groups and I now have access to a commercial kitchen. The owners of the kitchen need to buy a new oven and they want my input. In the past, when I have used a commercial convection oven for my cakes and cookies, the texture has been very different than when I use my home, electric, conventional oven. Are there convection ovens that are specifically for baking or is it just a matter of adjusting the time/temperature. The cakes seem to come out too spongey with kind of a cornbread like texture and the cookies too flat and hard.
    Any input would be appreciated!

  2. Chef Rick said

    August 7 2008 @ 9:41 am

    Convection ovens cook in much less time than home ovens, so cooking times are as much as 15-to 25 percent faster. Also, you can experiment with less mixing time.

  3. TheKitchenShow said

    September 10 2008 @ 6:26 am

    Thanks this helped alot:)

  4. Linda Robson said

    October 29 2008 @ 6:03 pm

    What causes a cake to crack

  5. Andrea Jones said

    November 11 2008 @ 8:42 am

    What brands of chocolate are high quality? How can you tell?

    I’ve been noticing that the brands I thought were good are all over 50% saturated fats. Is there such a thing as high quality chocolate that is much lower in saturated fats?

    Thanks for your wonderful site!

    A. J.

  6. Chef Rick said

    November 11 2008 @ 8:58 am

    Hi, Andrea–

    One of the things that makes chocolate be chocolate is the fat content. You can try substituting a darker chocolate (semi-sweet or unsweetened) to lower some of the saturated fat, or even using cocoa powder.

  7. lupe brabec said

    November 14 2008 @ 4:17 pm

    my bundt pan pumpkin cake was beautiful in the oven, once I took it out it dropped a good 1/2 to 1 inch. It is still good though. The temp. was right, I opened the door to test 5 mins. before it was due, it was still soft though, left it in 10 more mins. Can I try turning oven off and cooling it in the oven?

  8. Anace said

    November 25 2008 @ 10:48 am

    Should I expect the same results if baking a cake in a glass pyrex mold?

  9. Chef Rick said

    November 25 2008 @ 1:46 pm

    Don’t cool the cake in the oven, Adjust the cooking time and remove from the pan after 19 minutes of cooling. Letting it cool in the oven can cause it to stick to the pan.

    Pyrex pans have the potential to hold more heat than metal ones–check cake about 5 minutes earlier than usual.

  10. Ticia said

    November 26 2008 @ 2:31 pm

    I bake a delicious german chocolate cake, but it doesn’t cut (slice) well. I use a box mix, but add sour cream and German’s Sweet chocolate to give it a more home made taste. How can I get it to hold together when cutting?

  11. Chef Rick said

    November 27 2008 @ 1:34 am

    Try adding about half a cup more flour to compensate for the extra ingredients.

  12. Sylvia Boccassini said

    December 3 2008 @ 6:48 am

    I frequently make the Elvis Presley pound cake. It comes out delicious; however, I can see that the bottom of the cake is heavier than the top. Does this mean I should be baking the cake on the center rack rather than the bottom rack of the oven?

  13. Chef Rick said

    December 3 2008 @ 7:59 am

    Try it on a higher rack and see if that helps.

  14. Kimberly Monroe said

    December 11 2008 @ 10:40 am

    I’ve tried to make a 7-up cake on several occasions, but the inside of the cake always comes out gummy. How long do I hand mix my butter, sugar, 3 to 5min? What does it actually look like? What am I doing wrong?

    Help!

  15. Ron said

    December 11 2008 @ 6:50 pm

    If I am cooking two bundt cakes at one time do I allow for a longer cooking time or use the same time recommended for one cake? I am making cakes for presents and need to cook two at a time to same time.

  16. Monica Scott said

    December 11 2008 @ 7:45 pm

    I make a really good banana bread and have been for years. Lately the bread seems to be done on the top but dense and undercooked on the bottom half of the loaf.

    I cook it in a stoneware loaf pan @ 350deg.

  17. Chef Rick said

    December 13 2008 @ 8:28 pm

    Yes, allow at least 10 additional minutes, then check with a wire cake tester or broom straw. It may take as much as an extra half hour. If one of the cakes is cooking faster than the other, switch their position in the oven after you check them.

  18. Chef Rick said

    December 13 2008 @ 8:31 pm

    If everything else has stayed the same, check your oven temperature.

  19. Carol said

    December 22 2008 @ 8:52 am

    I can never get a box cake to rise, what could I
    be doing wrong?. I was making a Coconut cake, and
    had to use 2 box cakes instead of the usual 1 as the layers did not rise high enough. Any help or suggestions would certainly be appreciated.

  20. Chef Rick said

    December 23 2008 @ 9:11 am

    Make sure the cake mix hasn’t expired, be careful not to over-beat and use metal pans instead of glass or non-stick.

  21. Anne said

    December 31 2008 @ 4:30 pm

    Can you tell me why my lemmon drizzel cake sinks in the middle just after I remove it from the oven? I test it to make sure it is cooked, however within seconds it sinks – it is a butter, sugar, flour and egg mixture?

  22. jannice harris said

    January 4 2009 @ 3:23 pm

    i have tried everything my cake are still coming gummy i ajdust the oven temperure, is it the mixng time please help

  23. Chef Rick said

    January 8 2009 @ 10:58 am

    See “If the top of the cake dropped” above.

  24. Chef Rick said

    January 8 2009 @ 11:03 am

    Are you testing them for doneness with a cake tester before taking them out of the oven? If so, it might be too much mixing time for the butter and sugar. You just want to beat them until the butter gets light and creamy–too much time and it will melt and make the cake greasy.

  25. Gadha said

    January 13 2009 @ 10:02 am

    Hi Chef Rick,

    I am trying to bake chocolate sponge cake and everytime is getting dry and almost burn with uneven top. I tried with 20 degree celcius less than the recomended temperature and reducing 15 mnts than the recomended time. Mine is a convection oven with 1400W.
    Please Help!

  26. Chef Rick said

    January 13 2009 @ 10:11 am

    As you probably know, convection ovens cook very rapidly, and aren’t the best choice for making spongecakes. Leave the temperature as recommended in the recipe, and try reducing the time by 15 to 20 minutes. If necessary, try another 10 minutes if the first reduction doesn’t work.

  27. Jill Hansen said

    March 3 2009 @ 3:43 pm

    I had been craving my Grandmother’s chocolate cake recipe. It is a wonderful simple recipe. I made it last week and again last night and both times – the chocolate seems to separate. The bottom 1/2 inch of the cake is much lighter than it should be — it’s almost as if the chocolate is rising to the top. The chocolate is baking squares melted with margarine. Any ideas on why this would happen?

  28. Chef Rick said

    March 6 2009 @ 12:53 pm

    Everyone is so concerned with fat these days that margarine has been reformulated from your grandmother’s day. Try making the cake again, but using real, unsalted butter. It should turn out fine.

  29. Dana said

    April 10 2009 @ 9:16 am

    I’m trying to find a moist white cake recipe. So many people are used to box cake that I’m getting comments that my scratch cakes are too dry and the white cakes I’ve made so far have been dry. Is there an easy way to substitute oil for butter or another fat in the recipe? I find the only way the cake is moist is if oil is in the recipe

  30. Sylvia Boccassini said

    April 29 2009 @ 6:57 am

    This is such a great site. I printed out the questions and comments for my granddaughter to read as she loves baking but is just a beginner. Thanks.

  31. Patty said

    May 3 2009 @ 11:34 am

    I am really having trouble. I have a new commercial convection oven (gas). I bake primarily cupcakes and even when adjusting the temp to 25degrees lower…the cupcakes rise beautifully…pick inserted comes out clean…remove from oven…cool AND…they either “shrivel up and shrink” or simply drop in the center and when I taste test…appear gummy or almost raw. What can I do to correct this? Thanks for all your help!

  32. Nguher Kpojime said

    May 12 2009 @ 9:31 am

    Hi,
    was wondering if i could put in 2 recipes of cake in the same mixer would i get a good result?

  33. Chef Rick said

    May 17 2009 @ 11:56 am

    Not unless you have a commercial grade mixer. Even a KitchenAid 5-quart won’t handle two cakes at once and still do a good job.

  34. Peggy Bryan said

    June 19 2009 @ 7:47 pm

    Hi Rick
    l make a delicious pound cake and have been for years but recently l’ve noticed that my cake have lots of holes when cut, what am l doing wrong?

    Peggy

  35. nancy said

    June 28 2009 @ 11:45 am

    while baking a cake I forgot to seperate the whites which were to be beat later and add to the cakes. what will happen to the cake baked that way. It is a pound cake

  36. Adele said

    July 3 2009 @ 1:59 pm

    I bake cakes for senior citizens in large pans. The cakes were full of cracks. Could you tell me why this happened?

  37. Heather said

    July 8 2009 @ 7:44 pm

    I live in NC & I have a zucchini cake recipe from a market in Denver, CO. Ive tried the recipe 3 times in NC, and each time the cake comes out dense. I dont remember the cake being dense in Denver (never tried making it in CO). Is it the altitude difference or something else???

  38. Nola said

    September 11 2009 @ 7:37 pm

    I have a lemon pound cake recipe that i love. Everytime I make this cake (my mom has made it also) the cake cooks for the correct time, I have lessen the time to try and help it bake evenly. I cool the cake completly before cutting. The cake at the bottom looks as if its not done(gummy wet looking). By the way you add lemon pudding mix(box) and milk at the end. Please tell me what I’m doing wrong. I have cooked the cake in a electic oven and a gas oven, same results. I will be more than happy to email the receip for you to test.

    Nola

  39. Sanjeevani said

    September 23 2009 @ 11:41 am

    My family love all type of cakes ( from box cake receipe to flour using cakes also), normally I try to bake once or twice in a week,but now a days I found that the cake are very dry to eat and it become in some particals. I tried to eat with cool whip, condensed milk or any type of cream to make moiste it but not working. please hepl me!!!

  40. adrienne said

    September 29 2009 @ 5:32 pm

    I make a devil’s food cake that is quite good but just a bit dry. The reciepe calls for seperating the eggs & whipping the whites and folding them in the batter. I makes for a light cake. Is it possible that I am cooking the cake too long?? Would that cause dryness. By the way I use unsalted butter for the shortning.

  41. Julie said

    October 15 2009 @ 11:43 pm

    I add a 2 tablespoons of mayo or miracle whip dressing to my batter. My cakes Always come out moist. Depending on how much your making you can up to half a cup.

  42. Cake baking tips about com – Cake baking tips | Bakeware Tips » Blog Archive said

    January 19 2012 @ 3:58 am

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  43. welcome | Southern Boy Cakes said

    January 9 2013 @ 6:51 pm

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