Ever had a baking disaster? Use this guide from Sammy and Bella to discover all the basic rules of baking and create your very own masterpieces!
1. Thou shalt always lick the spoon
The first rule of cake club is that you must always lick the spoon! My fondest memories of baking come from when I was “about this high”, barely seeing over the kitchen bench, and waiting patiently with big sorrowful puppy dog eyes till I received the ultimate of prizes – the spoon.
Baking is all about precision, so although they look very artistic, cakes are really more of a science. So for this reason, there are many rules to follow. Despite the somewhat unemotional set of procedures involved, baking warms the heart and soul like no other form of cooking. So follow the rules of bake club, and enjoy every delicious mouthful!
2. Thou shalt have all the right equipment
It’s important to have all the right equipment, especially a good oven with even temperature and good air flow to avoid burned bottoms and uneven rising. A stand mixer will make life much much easier, and a good set of non stick baking pans in different sizes will also help.
3. Thou shalt measure ingredients precisely:
Measurement is also crucial, so it’s important to have a set of measuring cups, and even better, a set of electronic scales.
4. Thou shalt time everything impeccably:
Timing is everything. Whether its how long to mix a batter (to get just the right level of gluten) or how long you bake for. It’s also a good idea to invest in an electronic timer.
5. Thou shalt respect technique:
The tender melt in the mouth texture of cake is caused by tiny light little air bubbles and they start in the process of creaming butter and very fine caster sugar. During this creaming process, tiny pockets of air are carried along the rough edges of the sugar crystals and are then trapped in the fat of the butter.
Beating in egg is the next crucial step, as the proteins coat the bubble of air and fat, and stop it from collapsing during baking. Modern baking powders do a good job, but it’s still worth taking these steps seriously for the best texture.
Finally, we fold in the flour. Flour should be soft (with a low protein content, not hard like the flour used for pasta or bread) and it essentially provides structure to the cake and sets the egg-fat-air mixture. Gently folding in flour not only helps to avoid breaking those little air bubbles, it also helps to reduce the amount of gluten developed, resulting in a softer texture.
6. Thou shalt not over bake:
Baking takes place in 3 stages: rising, setting, and browning. Every oven has a slightly different temperature so it’s important to look out for clues to say it’s ready. The edges will begin to come away from the tin slightly, but the best way to tell is to insert a skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready. If your cake turns out heavy and dense, the temperature was too low. If it is cracked on top, it’s likely the temperature was too high.
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