How to Bake the Perfect Cake

This post has been contributed –  All opinions are mine alone 

Going along with our theme this week – techniques and tips – are you ready to bake a cake?

There is a certain talent required to bake the perfect cake, but it can be learned.  Many may stubbornly disagree with this, but it isn’t the cake itself that matters because there are thousands of delicious cake recipes out there.  It’s all to do with how well you nail each stage of the cake-baking process.  That’s what determines the end product.  

Baking the perfect cake isn’t something you’ll get right the first time either.  I sure didn’t!! The best chefs will deny it, but they weren’t always that way.  Many failed attempts; that’s the key to success with baking. You learn through trial and error; you perfect your method time and time again. You’ll become such a perfectionist that you’ll taste the “undercooked” parts of cakes that nobody else seems to notice.  You’ll be constantly striving for that perfect recipe, and that’s when you’ll know you’ve already made it (even when you don’t feel that way).  Here’s a guide to help you on this journey towards baking the perfect cake (or near-enough perfect).

Practice.

Practice makes perfect!  As mentioned earlier, you’re going to have to face up to your inadequacy as a baker in these early days.  Make mistakes and relish in them.  Every time you’re overzealous with flour or underestimate the amount of time your cake needs in the oven to rise properly, you’re learning a lesson; you won’t make that mistake again.  Of course, it’s not just about making mistakes again and again and hoping you’ll miraculously figure out baking at some point; you’re going to need to be a little proactive about the learning process too.

As an article over at cookinglight.com explains, you need to master the basic process of mixing the ingredients in the bowl because this truly does determine the flavor of the end-result.  You can’t just chuck all the ingredients together and expect a delicious cake to pop out of the oven afterward.  All cakes are different, of course, so you’ll need to follow instructions carefully, but don’t be afraid to make an improvised judgment call to add more milk if the cake dough looks too lumpy or more flour if it doesn’t seem to be bonding well.  It’ll all become easier with practice.

Be attentive when it comes to the finer details.

You might master the art of baking a beautiful cake early on in the process, but it’s the smaller details which make a great cake into a perfect cake.  Think about the cherry on top, to pardon the pun.  You could find out how to make royal icing from cakejournal.com because it really is the extra flourishes which make the cake truly delicious.  Complement the tasty spongey structure with the right toppings, essentially. Work out which flavors go well together.

Baby steps.

At the end of the day, making the perfect cake can’t be rushed.  Much like any good thing, it takes time.  Like a mad scientist in a laboratory, you’ll make tweaks here and there until you finally breathe life into the perfect cake.  You could even start by making smaller snack-sized cakes for your friends and family with these tasty cake bites  (to test the water more than anything).  Starting with simpler and smaller recipes is less time-consuming, wasteful, and stressful; it makes the “testing” process far less demanding.  

Whatever cake you decide to make, take your time, read the directions carefully, and learn from your mistakes.  And I’m sure even those less than perfect cakes will be delicious!

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2 Responses to How to Bake the Perfect Cake

  1. These are great tips and I especially love the one about starting with smaller cakes. It’s a good way to build your confidence and skills. I’ve been a baker for over 30 years and will admit that in the beginning, my cakes were a hot mess. That’s not to say they’re all perfect now. With so many new techniques and ideas there’s always something to learn. Great article!

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