What I've Learned Along the Way!
When baking cakes or cupcakes:
- ALWAYS, ALWAYS. ALWAYS, check the cake for doneness BEFORE the lowest time listed on the box or recipe. Overdone cakes will not have the light and moist texture you are looking for. Keep in mind too that any cake left in the hot pan when you take it out of the oven will continue cooking so allow a little time for that too.
- If you are using a spray to prep your pans instead of the old fashioned shortening and flour prep, always use the BAKING spray with flour, not the same old spray you use when spraying pans to cook in on the stove (like PAM). You will get much better results with the Baking Spray.
- Don't use buttermilk with a cake mix. I heard how great it was, but all I got were heavy cakes. I tried several different amounts for substituting the oil and water but never got it right. I do plan on trying some homemade cake recipes that include buttermilk in the ingredients and see if I can get better results.
- Always use a handy dandy ice cream scoop to measure out your batter when making cupcakes. You have probably seen this done on Cupcake Wars, DC Cupcakes, and by other extra ordinary cupcake bakers on TV. I HIGHLY recommend this as it makes your cupcakes a uniform size and REALLY cuts down on the mess.
- Move your oven rack up to the middle level of the oven. I seriously spent YEARS just leaving the lower rack on the lowest level and the uppper rack one row up. This was how my mother always did it after all. Take it from me though, you will get MUCH better results and more even baking if you keep that rack in the middle.
- ALWAYS use butter in buttercream. Once I started using half butter and half shortening the wonderful compliments from clients just got more better and better. I have not gone to ALL butter yet, but that is the next step as I hear that is even MORE amazing. MMMMMMM I can just eat it with a spoon.
- I learned a GREAT and WONDERFUL easy way to fill a pastry bag with icing for decorative icing techniques, but I will be darned if I can find the video now on YouTube. DARN. ANYHOO. . . here is my very lame way of explaining the how to ---- take a long strip of plastic wrap and lay it on the counter. Plop some icing in the center (how much you plop will depend on how big your icing bag is) and fold the wrap over and around the icing. Then roll the icing and wrap into a short fat log. Then twist and twist and twist the ends so you have two skinny strings on either side of the icing. Next you will cut one of the long skinny strings off near where the icing log is and then carefully place the cut end down into the pastry bag. Then just squeeze and decorate. I LOVED it. . . . VERY little mess and I just repeated as many times as I needed by using the same pastry bag. Let me tell you that clean up was SUPER easy.
- Last but not least, clean up AS YOU GO!!!. I used to just throw everything in the sink or push it aside and then at the end would have a BIG mess. Not fun.
OK, so that is some of the stuff I have learned this year while working on starting a party business. I used to do a lot more of the baking than I do now or that I plan to do in the future (I will be hiring that out), but when I DO bake, I always use these tips.
Do you have some great baking tips?
I would love it if you share them with me.
Until next time. . .
Keep on baking!