Featured Posts, Recipes

The Most Valuable Cake Baking Tips I’ve Learned

So today I decided to bake a cake to satisfy my constant chocolate-craving. Nothing special – just the usual classic chocolate cake recipe which has been made in our house for over six years. (Credit goes to some online cookery game my older sister used to play and whoever was kind enough to put up a real recipe on that thing.)

I had some time on my hands after Maghrib and there was a stick of ice cream in the freezer which none of us were daring to eat because winter had come about with full force and we did not want to risk our throats. So I scooped some out and chucked in the microwave and voila! the best cake topping in history. More on this later.

Coincidentally the cake turned out rather good and here are the factors I think contributed to it.

  1. Dry ingredients, then wet ingredients. I’ve always used the same method of measuring out all the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda etc) into a bowl first, then mixing it and then adding all the wet ingredients and mixing them instead of adding everything one by one and mixing after each addition. This avoids overmixing. (More on it later.)
  2. Hot milk. I warmed the milk (and forgot to turn off the stove and ended up boiling it) before adding it to the batter. I think that contributed to the moist texture of the cake.
  3. No overmixing. Before when I read baking articles where they talked about overmixing I would think “Pfft! Nothing happens if you mix a little bit more; besides, it’s so nice to beat batter.” That is NOT TRUE. Beat the eggs very lightly before adding and whisk the batter until just combined. This makes the cake lighter. Otherwise it will end up dense and will be hard as a rock after a few days if you’re trying to save it for later like I do. And don’t think “Pfft! Nothing happens with a little overmixing.” Something does happen and it isn’t very nice.
  4. Oil, not butter. I searched it up and here’s what Google got me: “The texture of cakes made with oil is—in general—superior to the texture of cakes made with butter. Oil cakes tend to bake up loftier with a more even crumb and stay moist and tender far longer than cakes made with butter.” (credit) However, butter does give a slightly better flavor. I like to think practically though and a little less-good-tasting but moist cake is better than a better-tasting cake that hardens within a few days. (Plus, we cover up the taste bit later.)
  5. Vanilla essence and salt. I used to think it was ridiculous to put salt in a cake – especially a chocolate one! Welp, wrong again! Salt actually enhances the flavor of sugar and other ingredients. I used 1/8th of a teaspoon. And vanilla essence does the same job, but it also comes with a unique aroma of its own that adds a little more deliciousness. (I always use 1/4th teaspoon of vanilla in cakes unless otherwise stated.) You can also use maple syrup, pancake syrup or even honey in place of vanilla. In conclusion, vanilla and salt, however little, greatly enhance the flavor of your cake.
  6. Butter greasing. Oil may be better as an ingredient but melted butter is by far the best medium to use for greasing. The cake doesn’t stick and harden on the dish and is cut easily. Just melt about 1 tablespoon of butter and rub it all over the inside of your baking dish.
  7. Don’t leave it in the oven. I CANNOT stress this enough. If you’re not sure exactly how long your cake will take (especially if you have an unreliable oven) do NOT set it for more time than your estimate. Generally cake-baking time is 20-30 minutes. When the bell goes off after that interval, check your cake with a skewer or knife and see if it’s ready or not. If not, set it for another 10 or 20 minutes depending on how raw it is. And AS SOON as you know it’s done. TAKE IT OUT of the oven and put it somewhere with good ventilation. DO NOT cover the cake. If you leave it in the oven or cover it the cake will ‘sit down’ (beth jaye ga), become dense and will not have a good texture.
  8. Decoration! Once your cake is nice and done, leave it to cool before decorating it so that the topping doesn’t melt. If you’re using frosting (which is thicker and holds its shape) go straight to decorating, but if you’re using icing (which is runny and slides everywhere) then make sure the top of the cake is flat. If there’s a dome cut it off or the icing will gather around the sides and the middle of the cake will be positively unappealing. I used melted ice cream and after messing around I realized that if you melt ice cream completely it becomes very runny but if you just soften it and then mix it well with a spoon it becomes a kind of frosting. Anyhow it soaks into the cake. I didn’t think that was all bad. After chucking on the ice cream I got to work with a saucepan, about 1/4 cup of cooking chocolate and a box of Nestle’s whipping cream (the small white and purple ones that are often expired.) After chopping the chocolate roughly into large blocks I dumped it in the saucepan and added some cream. After a good lot of mixing and adding more cream I poured it onto the cake as well. The result was excellent. I added a few chocolate chips for presentation.
  • P.S.: the melted ice cream all soaked into the cake, as a result making it even more moist and soft. There was no need to store it in the fridge/freezer.

Unfortunately due to the cake being extremely in demand (as well as my sister cutting an unseemly large piece out from smack in the middle) I wasn’t able to get a picture (also I forgot), but I can tell you it tasted good.

So those were my top tips for cake baking and decorating. If you have any, I’d love to hear about them! Just comment below.

7 thoughts on “The Most Valuable Cake Baking Tips I’ve Learned”

  1. Oh wow. Jazakillah!

    I didn’t really think that dry ingredients first and dry ingredients after made a difference. But Jazakillahu Khairan for all the tips! I hope my next cake tastes better lol.


      1. well i think u (literally) can make the cake @9:22 PM but ofc if it’s past ur bedtime and someone comes into the kitchen, you might have to run/hide. so in conclusion, if u want cake @9:22 PM and it’s past ur bedtime, don’t make the cake.

        Liked by 1 person

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