25 tips for baking:
1. Ingredients for cakes should be room temperature (take out of refrigerator approximately 60-90 minutes before needed).
2. To check freshness of eggs, put in a bowl of water–if they sink, they’re fresh. If they float and stand on one end, they’re not.
3. You can substitute milk with yogurt or sour cream, to experiment with different textures.
4. To create a replacement for buttermilk, add 1 teaspoon vinegar for every cup of milk and stir.
5. Weighing ingredients with a digital kitchen scale is the most accurate method of baking.
6. For best results, use pure vanilla extract.
7. To bring butter to room temperature quickly, you can cut into small cubes on a plate for about 15 minutes.
8. Semisweet Chocolate = Dark Chocolate. Bittersweet Chocolate = Extra Dark Chocolate.
9. Semisweet & Bittersweet Chocolate are interchangeable.
10. Unless otherwise listed, use unsalted butter for cake recipes.
11. When creaming butter and sugar, get the mixture very pale yellow and fluffy–will take several minutes (around 5).
12. Always start and end with dry ingredients when alternating with wet ingredients (3 dry additions, 2 wet).
13. Don’t over mix once dry ingredients are added. Just mix on low speed until incorporated.
14. Kitchen stand-mixers don’t need to run at full-speed. A small mixer should run no more than speed No.4
15. Be careful with your sugar–too much can cause a dark crust too little can cause too light a crust or tough texture.
15. Watch your flour–too much can cause a cracked top (one of several possible causes).
16. A pinch of salt brings out the flavors in sweet baked goods.
17. When folding, you should always add the lighter of the two mixtures on top, using a gentle folding motion, to avoid deflating batter.
18. If incorporating more than one flavor into a batter or icing, always start with the vanilla; vanilla enhances most flavors.
For evenly-baked cakes, no domed tops, and no-fuss assembly, bake “layer-by-layer.” This means if you’re baking a 3-layer cake, use 3 of the same size/shape pan, and bake 3 shorter layers at same time.
19. Use a small offset palette knife to spread batter evenly in pans. Don’t fill more than 1/2 full–2/3 at the most.
20. Get a separate oven thermometer for an accurate temperature reading
21. Always wait for oven to reach necessary temperature before putting cakes in oven.
22. Keep cakes away from sides of oven, and if possible a few inches from each other (when more than 1 baking at once).
21. Rotate cakes after 20 minutes in oven (don’t disturb before 20 minutes).
22. Use middle rack, unless otherwise stated in recipe.
23. Typically, when in oven, cakes are nearing done when you can smell cake in the kitchen. Sounds weird, but you’ll see!
24. Leave cakes in oven when testing for “done.” When a skewer comes clean from center of cake, it’s done.
25. Don’t over bake! This is one sure way to end up with a dry cake.