Tuesday's Tip: Let Them Eat Cake

February 01,2011
Sweet Pea Chef
Jessica Efird( )

Jessica, aka the Sweet Pea Chef, is a former U.S. Senate staffer/weekend gourmet turned full-time mom/family gourmet. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and two sons.

As I shared last month, January is the month of both our boys’ birthdays and hence, a big baking month for this mom.  Sure, I’ve bought my fair share of baked goods, but I do enjoy baking and what better occasion than a family birthday to spur on some homemade confections?


While I measured, stirred and mixed, I started thinking about all the wonderful tips that others have shared with me that have helped my baking skills, I started a short written list to share with you.  So without further adieu, my “Let them eat (homemade) cake!” list:
 

*Follow the directions of any cake recipe explicitly.  I lean more toward the “little of this” and “little of that” kitchen method.  While this will work for creating a sauce or marinade, baking, especially baking cakes, requires exact measurements.  Cakes are chemistry, not art.  (Don’t worry for all you artistically leaning cooks—the decorations will satisfy your artsy urge)
 

*Getting a cake out of the pan requires good preparation of the pan.  Most recipes call for the cake pan to by greased and floured.  I have two tips to help with this:
 

*First, one of my favorite tricks is to use the butter wrapper (you almost undoubtedly unwrapped some butter for your cake recipe) and its residual butter to grease your pan like this:
 


 

*Second, if you are baking a chocolate cake, use cocoa powder in lieu of flour to “flour” the pan.  Otherwise, you are apt to have a funky looking white crust to your chocolate cake when you flip it out of the pan.
 

*To help even out the cake batter and prevent some of the “doming” of the cake in the middle of the pan, gently tap the cake pan on the counter before placing it in the oven.  Simply lift it 1 inch above a flat counter and drop to get out excess bubbles out of the batter.
 

*Once the cake is done and you need to remove it from the pan, let it cool for 30-60 minutes.  Use a butter knife or metal spatula to loosen the cake from the side of the pan.
Flip the cake pan over on a platter or plate and firmly rub the bottom of the cake pan with something metal.  Not sure why, but this seems to help—any scientists out there know why?
 

*To more easily frost your cake, make sure the cake is fully cooled, even cool.  Don’t be afraid to pop your cake in the freezer for a short freeze to ensure cooling.
 

*To more easily frost your cake, part 2:  warm the frosting ever so slightly (for example 15 seconds in the microwave).  This will make the frosting easier to spread.
 

There you have it.  A few tips for this week’s Tuesday’s Tip.  Now get out there and bake a cake—maybe a Groundhog’s Day cake for tomorrow?
 

SPC