How not to spoil a birthday cake: 12 baking mistakes every cook should know about

By SSPDaily editionMar 6, 2024 07:06 AMFood Life hack
12 baking mistakes to avoid not to spoil a birthday cake
12 baking mistakes to avoid not to spoil a birthday cake. Source:

The winter holidays are the best time of year to practice your baking skills and finally make that cake you never had time for. However, as soon as we pick up the dough, we realize that even a simple cake that requires only four basic ingredients has its own "little" secrets.

"And if you don't know about them," writes USA News, "the dessert may turn out too dry, crumbly, or low-volume. In this case, professionals say that three factors ensure a positive baking result: a proven cooking technique, quality control of ingredients, and a good oven."

So, if you want your cake to be exemplary, SSPDaily told about 12 mistakes to avoid.

Incorrect calculation of ingredient proportions

There are many cake recipes, but the simplest one can be made according to the following "scheme". These are the so-called "four quarters": a quarter of each of the four ingredients. That is, to get a piece weighing 1 kilogram, we use 250 g of sugar and the same amount of flour, eggs (4 eggs) and butter.

Another requirement before you start making dough is that the ingredients must be at the right temperature. They cannot be used if they have just been taken out of the refrigerator.

Butter is cold and not fatty enough

Whipping butter is the first step in making a sponge cake. It should be around 22 degrees Cº before you start whipping it.

You can do this with a manual or electric mixer at medium speed. The quality of whipping is of great importance. If it is good, the volume will double or triple, and the flour, sugar, and egg will turn into a homogeneous mass.

Important! For butter to rise well, its fat content should be 82-85%,

Incorrectly added sugar

After you have whipped the butter well, it's time to add 250 grams of sugar. What is the secret? Sprinkle it in the form of rain so that it penetrates the air spaces and mix for 7 minutes.

Mixing all the eggs at once at low speed

Egg is a natural emulsifier that binds fat to solids. For the mixing process to work properly, the egg should be at a temperature of 18-20ºC.

In addition, all eggs should not be added to the bowl at the same time.

Each time you add one egg, mix it at a low speed and then increase it sharply. And don't add the second egg until the first is well integrated.

The final texture should be "satiny", without lumps, bright, yellow in color.

Ignoring the type of flour

The most common flour is wheat. And it's great for making a cake. However, you can use other flours, such as whole wheat or buckwheat, but in this case, you will have to dilute it with about 80 g of milk.

If we want to use rice flour, potato starch flour, or tapioca starch flour, you need to mix them with corn flour so that you get the structure you want.

The pre-sifted flour should be mixed with a mixer at low speed or by hand so that the gluten appears and the cake rises well in the oven.

Tip: Halfway through the mixing, make short stops to remove the flour from the sides, and when everything is well mixed, beat the mixture for the last minute on medium-high speed.

How do I add vanilla or lemon zest?

The addition of vanilla or lemon zest will complement the cake and give it a pleasant flavor profile.

If you prefer lemon zest, remember not to use the white part of the fruit because it is bitter.

Tip: Add the zest when you add the eggs or even the oil - citrus essential oils are very good at soaking up fat when mixed.

Adding low-quality or unnecessary baking powder

If we use wheat flour and emulsify the mixture well, there is no need to add baking powder or baking soda to make the cake, because the dough will rise by itself.

When is it necessary to use chemical yeast or its substitutes? If your cake contains milk or yogurt, use 5 g of this ingredient for every 120 g of flour. .

Using the wrong mold

It may seem like the shape doesn't matter, but a mistake in choosing it can lead to a cake that doesn't turn out perfectly.

If it doesn't contain chemical yeast, use a rectangular shape so that the cake rises evenly and remains porous. A round shape, on the other hand, can disrupt its structure.

The oven is not preheated and the fan is on

The oven should be turned on 10 minutes before baking so that the dough reacts and fluffs up immediately.

It is very important that the oven heats the cake equally from the top and bottom, and it is a big mistake to use ventilation, which will dry out the cake and make it lose its stability. The correct cooking temperature is 170ºC. In this case, the cake needs 45 to 60 minutes to be fully cooked.

Opening the oven too wide and using a toothpick

Be careful not to open the oven too much. You risk losing heat and the cake may remain soggy inside.

As for using a toothpick to check doneness, professional pastry chefs strongly advise against it. They argue that it's like making a wound, opening a hole in advance, letting air in, and ruining everything.

In addition, the toothpick method is misleading because the cake, which contains butter and egg, is creamy, the toothpick can come out wet, and you will think that the product is still raw when it is already ready.

What should you do in this case? It's very simple. After 40 minutes, when the cake is almost ready, open the oven and check the internal temperature by poking it with a digital thermometer. See how long it takes to reach 91º C, which is the ideal temperature for a cake, and if it's lower, leave it as is to finish baking the top layer.

Do not place the cake on its side

After cooking, take the cake out and let it rest for an hour and a half.

Bakers advise letting it rest on one side so that the weight of the cake does not overturn the pastry. But if you put it upright, you risk it falling over, especially if the emulsion is not perfect.

You don't need a knife to remove the cake from the mold. If you put it on baking paper, it will come out well when it cools down. If not, it's best to do it while it's still warm, laying it on its side, pushing the mold slightly away and not "hitting" it so that it doesn't break.

Storage rules

After cooking, the cake can be covered with melted chocolate (if it is cold) or sprinkled with powdered sugar. If we want to add color to it, it is better to add something that awakens the taste, such as pieces of red fruit, dried fruit macerated in alcohol, or aromatic herbs.

If you have any leftover cake, you can store it at room temperature with a lid on it to protect it from cross-contamination and to keep it moist.

The cake can be kept in the refrigerator for about 10 days, and wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen, it can be stored for up to three months.

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