Making luxury wedding cakes is both a science and an art form and at Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium, it always starts with a great bake.
The foundation for any cake design is a tried and tested cake recipe, paired with delicious fillings that not only taste amazing, but also hold up to the rigours of decoration and stacking. Having experienced many a baking disaster in my time, through trial and error, I discovered some of the secrets to good, consistent bakes.
These 15 baking tips culled from my best selling artisan baking and decorating book OPULENCIA will help ensure that you get closer to baking perfect cakes every time.
The Right Equipment
Start with the right equipment. Ensure you have a properly calibrated oven that you are familiar with, in particular, its quirks. It is also important to use the right type and size of baking tin for each recipe.
The Right Temperature is Key!
Preheat your oven until it reaches the desired temperature at least half an hour before baking. For some ovens a light will go out, some will bleep. To be certain your oven is at the right temperature though, check with an oven thermometer.
Mise en Place
Practice the method professional chefs call ‘Mise en place’. This is where you assemble all your ingredients and equipment, ticking them off your list before you start baking.
Accuracy – Weigh and Measure Everything
Be accurate with the weighing and measuring of ingredients to achieve consistent results.
Achieving Moist Bakes
Place a shallow pan of water at the bottom of the oven especially when baking fruit cakes, or if the cake is quite large and requires a longer baking time.
Bring Ingredients to Room Temperature
Butter, eggs and milk should be brought to room temperature before baking to prevent any curdling later on.
The Creaming Process
Cream the butter and sugar together at a very high speed until the colour pales to nearly white and the mixture is light and fluffy. Do not set a time limit for this step. I often advise that you walk away from the mixer during the creaming process, only interrupting to scrape the bowl down once or twice.
Sift the Flour
When sifting your flour, lift the sieve high as this allows more air to be incorporated.
Types of Cocoa Powder
There are generally three types of cocoa powder, natural (more bitter and acidic), Dutch processed (less bitter and alkaline) and black (deep chocolatey flavour and least bitter). If the chocolate cake recipe contains baking powder, use the Dutch processed or the black cocoa powder. If the recipe contains baking soda, use natural cocoa powder.
Best Kept Secret for Sponge Cakes
You may add 1 or 2 tablespoons of meringue powder to your batter to help your sponge cake rise.
Use Sponge Flour
For Luxury Wedding Cakes, use sponge flour or cake flour where you can. The lower protein, finer granules and extra sifting of the flour makes for a light and airy cake.
Follow the Recipe to the Letter
Follow the recipe as accurately as possible, but keep in mind that the outcome will depend on a number of variables such as your oven stability, quality of ingredients, the process and equipment used.
Always Line Your Baking Tin
I always line my baking tins before adding cake batter. This ensures the cake is released easily from your baking tin every time without fail. I use greaseproof paper or baking parchment. Cake release sprays also work, but I prefer to line my tins for that added assurance.
If a cake is too crumbly, this may be a consequence of using too much flour, insufficient moisture in the cake mix or under-mixing. On the other hand, over-mixing can result in overdevelopment of the gluten in the flour, giving the cake a coarse grain or large and uneven holes.
Is My Cake Done Yet?
Test whether your cake is baked using your sense of smell, observing the colour (cakes should be a nice golden brown), using your sense of touch (when pressed in the centre, a well-baked cake should spring back immediately) and lastly, a skewer inserted through the centre of the cake should come out clean.
We hope that you find these tips useful.
For more fool proof recipes and tips, head over to Amazon, where you can buy our ebook OPULENCIA.