With all of this practice (including recipe fails!), I’ve learned which cake baking tools are the BEST in my home kitchen. I like to avoid overloading my cabinets with unnecessary gadgets, so this list includes the top essentials. I’m not working with any of these brands; these cake baking tools are simply the items I own, love, and recommend.
See my 10 Cake Baking Tips for Perfect Cakes page, too.
Stock Your Kitchen With These 10 Cake Baking & Decorating Tools
All of the cake baking tools in this list are items I own. I list 10 here, but some include more than 1 item. Use your best judgment on which items you would use based on my descriptions. None of this post is sponsored—truly just items I love and am happy to recommend to fellow home bakers. A lot of these links are affiliate links.
ROUND CAKE PANS
What I own and love: Fat Daddio’s 9-Inch Cake Pan or Fat Daddio’s 8-Inch Cake Pan.
I began using these pans in 2018 to bake layer cakes and immediately fell in love. They’re great quality for the price! I recommend owning 3. It’s best to bake cake batter all at once, and if you own only 2 round cake pans, you have to wait to bake that final layer if you’re making a 3-layer cake.
Tip: Purchase 2-inch-deep cake pans or those labeled “deep dish” style—some round pans are only 1.5 inches high, and you could end up with batter spilling over.
QUARTER SHEET PAN & HALF SHEET PAN
What I own and love: Nordic Ware Half Sheet Pan & Pyrex 3-Quart Glass Baking Dish.
Quantity recommended: at least 1 of each size
Half sheet and quarter sheet pans are some of the most versatile and useful pans a baker can have. Both of these brands are excellent quality and have stood up to very frequent use.
The 12×17-inch size of a half sheet pan (aka a jelly roll pan) is the perfect size for baking roll cakes, like this chocolate cake roll. I also use half sheet pans for baking cookies, scones, vegetables, potatoes, fish, meat, croissants, pastries, breads, pouring out toffee or chocolate bark, and so much more.
The 9×13-inch rectangular baking pan (aka quarter sheet pan) is just the right size for a one-layer cake, like this banana cake. It holds about 3 quarts and can be used for everything from homemade brownies to lasagna, vanilla sheet cake, casseroles, overnight cinnamon rolls, and more. I prefer glass because it heats slowly, and gradual heat is perfect to evenly cook a big cake.
PARCHMENT PAPER ROUNDS
What I own and love: Comfylife Parchment Paper Sheets.
No matter what size or brand cake pan you use, make sure you prepare it appropriately before you pour your cake batter into the pan. These days I ALWAYS use parchment paper rounds.
- Trace the bottom of the cake pans(s) on a large piece of parchment paper. Cut out the parchment circle(s). Then, very lightly grease the cake pans with butter or nonstick spray. I usually use coconut oil nonstick spray or “baking spray,” which has a little flour in it. Place the parchment round inside, then grease the parchment round too. Yes, grease the pan AND the parchment. This promises an ultra-nonstick environment for your cake.
- When the cake has cooled, run a thin knife around the edge, invert the cake onto your hand or work surface, then pull off the cake pan. Peel off the parchment round from the bottom of the cake.
If it’s helpful, see this parchment paper rounds for cakes video & post for a full tutorial.
What I own and love: KitchenAid Tilt-Head Stand Mixer or KitchenAid 5-Speed Hand Mixer.
An electric mixer is a must if you bake a lot. I use my hand mixer more than my stand mixer. If you want both, definitely get both. When I’m working with an enormous amount of dough/batter or making something that requires several minutes of mixing (e.g., fudge, dough, meringue), a stand mixer is key.
For beginner bakers, a hand mixer is perfect. More affordable, fantastic quality, and works wonderfully for mixing together cake batter.
DIGITAL FOOD SCALE
What I own and love: OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale.
A kitchen scale is also useful for making layer cakes. I often weigh the pans when I’m adding the batter to them, to make sure I’m getting about the same amount of batter in both/all of the cake pans, assuring the layers will be uniform and bake evenly. (This only works if you’re using a set of the same cake pan since they all weigh the same.)
SIFTER/FINE MESH SIEVE
What I own and love: Cuisinart Sieve.
Quantity recommended: 1 set
This set conveniently has 3 different sizes with nice long handles. They’re easy to clean (just use soapy water and rinse off) and have lasted me years. I consider a sifter/sieve a crucial kitchen tool and even recommend them in this list of 14 Best Baking Tools Every Baker Needs.
What I own and love: Ateco 8-Inch Straight Spatula, 4.5-Inch Straight Spatula, & 4.5-Inch Offset Spatula.
Quantity recommended: 1 of each, but that depends on the type of decorating you do
I use a large straight icing spatula for decorating large layer cakes like this chocolate peanut butter cake. A small straight spatula is handy for running around the edges of a cake to remove it from the pan or to spread frosting on a smaller cake. And I prefer using a small offset spatula to decorate sheet cakes that are served inside the pan.
CAKE TURNTABLE OR CAKE STAND
What I own and love: Revolving Cake Turntable Stand and Marble Cake Stand.
I’m not a cake decorating pro; I tend to stick with basic techniques for finishing off my cakes. A cake turntable can be helpful when you’re frosting a layer cake. If you don’t want to serve the cake on the cake turner, you can carefully lift the cake off of the cake turntable onto a serving plate or cake stand, with the help of a couple thin flat spatulas and a friend.
What I own and love: Ateco Bench Scraper.
A bench scraper is super handy for smoothing out the icing around the sides of a layer cake. If you’ve never used one before, you can watch me use it in my vanilla cake video (and you can see that I don’t even use a cake turntable there, I just use the marble cake stand linked in #8 above). This bench scraper works for any size cake.
What I own and love: Sterilite Cake Server or XL Cake Carrier.
Honestly, this should be #1 on today’s list. Cake carriers are an absolute lifesaver for storing and transporting cakes. Have you ever needed to refrigerate a layer cake, but covering it with aluminum foil or plastic wrap completely ruins the icing? Store it in a cake carrier! Have you ever needed to travel with a decorated layer cake? Use a cake carrier! I even put pies in this thing.
I recommend this cupcake carrier for storing and transporting frosted cupcakes, too. And not just cupcakes/muffins—this carrier is also excellent for transporting 9×13-inch cakes, round pies, cookies, and more.
Worth their weight in gold!
Even More Cake Baking Tools & Tips
Having a hard time picking which cake to make first? Today I’ve narrowed down my list of cakes to the five best cakes for beginner bakers. These five cakes are not only simple though, they taste amazing and will wow a crowd!
Cake Basics 101
Every year I teach a class at Pinners Conference called Cake Basics 101. In this class, I demonstrate how to make and decorate my Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream. I love using this cake to demo because it’s a great cake for any beginner baker to make. There are only two elements to it: cake and frosting. Easy peasy!
This is actually something I get asked about quite a bit. “Which of your cakes should I start with if I’ve never made a cake before?”
Well, there are actually several cakes I’d recommend for beginner bakers, but I usually tell people to first look through my cakes and just choose a cake that sounds good to them. No matter how many elements are in a cake, if it’s something you’re excited about, I don’t think you’ll mind the time it takes to create it. And you certainly won’t mind eating it after all that hard work!
However, if the idea of cake layers and frosting, along with a couple of different fillings and a drip is the reason you’re not making a cake, let’s simplify it so you feel confident heading into the kitchen!
Below I’ve put together a list of 5 of the best cakes for beginner bakers.
Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream
First up, my Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream. Like I said above, this cake is great for beginners because there are only two parts to it – cake and frosting. The cake itself is pretty foolproof and the frosting goes on as smoothly as butter. I love to doll it up with Sweetapolita sprinkles.
Classic White Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
Another easy cake to start with is this Classic White Cake with Vanilla Buttercream. This cake is a great base for any frosting, and pairs well with so many different fillings. I often throw in fresh strawberries or strawberry preserves between the layers.
Another similar white cake with vanilla frosting is my Funfetti Cake.
My Biscoff Cake has a couple more elements to it than the previous two mentioned cakes, but, it’s a simple one to make and the flavor is worth every minute of kitchen time.
I also like this one for beginners because it’s a total crowd-pleaser! You’ll serve this cake and I guarantee people will never believe it’s the first layered cake you’ve ever made.
Similar to the Biscoff Cake, the Churro Cake is always a huge hit and not too hard for a first-time baker. For this cake, you have cinnamon sugar cake layers with a cinnamon sugar swirl, cinnamon buttercream, and cinnamon chip ganache. Just remember to only add half of the batter in each pan, then some cinnamon sugar mixture and more batter on top.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
This cake is one of my all-time favorites! The chocolate cake layers are super easy to whip up and will pair well with any frosting, especially this whipped peanut butter frosting.
Hopefully looking at these recipes gives you some confidence to get in the kitchen and start baking. And just remember, the most important part of the whole cake-making experience is that you enjoy it! Take your time and spread the baking over the course of a couple of days, so you don’t feel rushed. You can make things ahead of time – check out my post on freezing cakes. Then, assemble everything on the day of your event.
And the next thing to remember as you are just getting started making cakes – don’t worry about how the cake looks, it’s all about how it tastes! Learning to decorate comes with practice. But I have a feeling that once you make your first homemade cake and realize how delicious it is, you’ll find lots of reasons to practice decorating!
More Tips & Recipes You’ll Enjoy
I’m a self-taught baker, obsessed with cake.
I long ago ditched box mixes in pursuit of melt-in-your-mouth, to-die-for flavor combinations, fillings and textures. I believe cake must be decadent, life-changing and worthy of celebration! And I believe anyone should be able to bake that kind of cake – and I’m here to teach you just that!
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Light, fluffy, and covered in frosting—whether it’s a classic vanilla cake or something for chocolate lovers, a deliciously moist cake is a staple centerpiece for any special occasion. Many of our best cake recipes start with the same method: beating butter or shortening with sugar until it’s fluffy. These cakes are sometimes called creamed cakes, because the fat and sugar are creamed together. Using our Test Kitchen’s tried and true methods, we’ll teach you how to make a homemade cake that’s so good everyone will think you bought it from a fancy bakery. While it takes a bit of time, you’re about to learn that none of these steps for making a cake are actually very difficult.
How to Bake a Cake
First you’ll have to choose a recipe. You can keep it simple with a yellow cake (pictured above), or you can choose a slightly showier recipe, like a chocolate devil’s food cake or a vibrant red velvet cake.If you’re not a fan of the traditional frostings, try a German chocolate cake. We also have a few birthday cake recipes for celebratory occasions. The possibilities are almost endless, and these directions will help you make them all, but angel food, pound cakes, sponge cakes, and chiffon cakes require different methods, so read up on those separately.
Prepare Baking Pans
No one wants a cake to stick to the pan, so it’s important to prep your pans before pouring in the batter. With the exception of angel food and chiffon cakes, most recipes call for greasing and flouring the pan or lining the pan with waxed or parchment paper.
As for selecting the right type of baking pan to use, our Test Kitchen prefers shiny pans, which absorb less heat and produce a golden crust. Pans with a dark or dull finish absorb more heat and may burn your crust, so if you’re using one of these, reduce your oven temperature by 25°F and check on the cake 3-5 minutes earlier than the recipe suggests.
Allow Ingredients to Reach Room Temperature
Test Kitchen Tip: Never use melted butter when softened butter is called for. It will ruin the cake’s texture.
Preheat the Oven
When a cake bakes too quickly, it can develop tunnels and cracks; too slowly, and it can be coarse. Allow your oven to preheat for at least 10 minutes, and use an oven thermometer to be sure it’s reached the proper temperature. If you’re using dark cake pans, you’ll want to reduce the oven temperature called for in your recipe by 25°F.
Stir Together Dry Ingredients
Dry ingredients usually include flour, baking powder and/or baking soda, and salt. Rather than adding each dry ingredient individually to the batter, whisk them together in a bowl beforehand. That way you’ll know the ingredients will be equally distributed throughout the batter.
Combine the Butter and Sugar
Wondering how to make a cake with a light, airy crumb? Creaming butter and sugar is the most important step. Here’s how:
- Using an electric mixer (Target) on medium to high speed, beat the butter for 30 seconds. Generally, a stand mixer requires a medium speed for this step, but a hand mixer requires a higher speed.
- Add the sugar (and vanilla if the recipe calls for it) and beat the mixture on medium speed until it is combined and has a light, fluffy texture. This will take 3 to 5 minutes. (Do not cut this short.) Scrape the bowl occasionally while beating. Tiny bubbles will be created as the butter and sugar are combined, which will give your cake that light, fluffy texture.
Add Eggs One at a Time
Add the eggs (or egg whites) one at a time, beating well after each. Their protein creates a structure around the air bubbles that will maintain the texture.
Test Kitchen Tip: Break the eggs individually into a custard cup or small bowl first. This way, if you get shell fragments, you can easily fish them out of the cup, rather than trying to get them out of the batter.
Alternate Adding Dry and Wet Ingredients
Alternate between adding some of the dry mixture and some of the milk (or whatever liquid is specified in your recipe) to the butter-egg-sugar mixture, beating on low speed after each addition until everything is combined. Begin and end with the flour mixture, as when liquid is mixed into flour, gluten begins to form. Too much gluten makes for a tough cake, so be sure to start and finish with the flour, and be careful not to overmix once you’ve added liquid.
Test Kitchen Tip: Be careful not to overmix at this stage or you might get elongated, irregular holes in the finished cake.
Pour Batter into Pans and Bake
Divide the batter evenly between the baking pans. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter in an even layer. Be sure to spread it to the pan’s edge. Bake your cake according to your recipe’s directions.
Check Cake for Doneness
Overbaked cake equals dry cake, and no one wants that. Start checking the cake for doneness after the recipe’s stated minimum baking time, but avoid opening the oven door before then, so that the heat doesn’t escape. For creamed cakes, insert a wooden toothpick near the center of the cake. If the pick comes out clean (with only a crumb or two on it), the cake is done. If there is any wet batter on it, bake the cake for a few minutes more and test in a new spot with a new toothpick.
Cool the Cake Layers
Let the cake layers cool in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes maximum. To remove the cakes from the pans, run a knife around the edges, which will loosen them from the sides of the pans. Place a wire rack over the top of each cake and flip the pan. Gently lift the pans off, being careful not to tear the edges of the cakes. If you used waxed or parchment paper, carefully peel the paper off the cake.
Allow the cake to cool completely (about 1 hour). This is a key step to letting the cake firm up, making it less likely to break apart as you frost it. (And it keeps the frosting from melting as soon as you spread it!)
Assemble the Cake
To avoid crumbs in your frosting, brush the cake layers with a pastry brush. Spread about a ½ cup of frosting over the first layer, then carefully top it with the next layer. Repeat until all the layers are stacked.
Test Kitchen Tip: It takes about 2½ to 3 cups of icing to generously fill and frost a two-layer, 9-inch cake. For a three-layer cake, plan on using 3½ to 4 cups.
Add the First Coat of Frosting
The secret to knowing how to frost a layer cake is a crumb coat. To do this, spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake. This initial coat doesn’t need to look perfect; it’s another way to keep the crumbs out of the frosting. Let the cake stand for 30 minutes so the frosting sets up.
Test Kitchen Tip: For a quick cleanup, tuck small pieces of waxed paper around and under the first layer, which should be on a cake pedestal or cake plate.
Frost and Decorate
Using an offset spatula or table knife, generously spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake, swirling as you go. Once the cake is completely covered, go back and add more swirls as desired. Serve the cake within 2 hours or store in the refrigerator..
As many of you know by now, making cakes from scratch isn’t something that can be done in a hurry. One of the first tips I give new bakers is to plan out the baking process so they’re not trying to do everything in just a couple hours. Rushing the process is a recipe for disaster. So, for today’s edition of Cake Basics, I thought I’d help you schedule out the cake making process based on how much time you have.
Before we get to the different schedules, the first piece of timing advice I want to offer is this: read through your recipe at least a week before you start baking. This way you’ll have plenty of time to buy ingredients, order any special ingredients, and plan how much time to give yourself for the whole process.
Some of my cakes only have a couple of elements to them. Take my Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream, for example. This cake has two elements: cake layers and buttercream. It’s a great cake to make when you only have one or two days to bake. My Ultimate S’mores Cake, on the other hand, has SIX different elements. That’s a great one to spread out over the course of a week. And trust me, that one is worth every minute of your time!
If You Have a Week
Let’s start with a week of prep time! A full week is a good amount of time to give yourself if you’re making a cake with a lot of elements, as I mentioned above.
- Day 1: Review the recipe and do your grocery shopping.
- Day 2: Bake the cake layers.Once the cake layers are cooled to room temperature, wrap each layer in plastic wrap and freeze. The layers will be good for a week like this. If you want to freeze the layers for longer, wrap a second time in tin foil and place in a zip lock bag.One hour before you’re ready to start stacking and decorating your cake, remove your cake layers from the freezer.
- Once the cake layers are cooled to room temperature, wrap each layer in plastic wrap and freeze. The layers will be good for a week like this. If you want to freeze the layers for longer, wrap a second time in tin foil and place in a zip lock bag.
- One hour before you’re ready to start stacking and decorating your cake, remove your cake layers from the freezer.
- Day 3: Make one of the fillings.Fillings are usually best stored in an airtight container on the counter or in the fridge.
- Fillings are usually best stored in an airtight container on the counter or in the fridge.
- Day 4: Make additional fillings, if any.
- Day 5: Make the buttercream.To store the buttercream, place the buttercream in an airtight container and refrigerate. To use the premade frosting, remove from the refrigerator a few hours before you want to decorate. Let the frosting get back to room temperature and re-beat the buttercream to soften it.
- To store the buttercream, place the buttercream in an airtight container and refrigerate.
- To use the premade frosting, remove from the refrigerator a few hours before you want to decorate. Let the frosting get back to room temperature and re-beat the buttercream to soften it.
- Day 6: Assemble the cake.I typically like to assemble the cake a few hours before I want to serve it and will then store it in a cake box or on a cake stand with a lid. Room temperature is okay for most cakes, for 2 to 3 hours. Some cakes, like my Ricotta Olive Oil Cake, are best stored in the fridge and served slightly chilled. If you don’t plan to serve the cake on the day you assemble the cake, you can refrigerate it overnight in an airtight container.
- I typically like to assemble the cake a few hours before I want to serve it and will then store it in a cake box or on a cake stand with a lid. Room temperature is okay for most cakes, for 2 to 3 hours. Some cakes, like my Ricotta Olive Oil Cake, are best stored in the fridge and served slightly chilled.
- If you don’t plan to serve the cake on the day you assemble the cake, you can refrigerate it overnight in an airtight container.
If You Have Three to Four Days
If you’re a little tighter on time, but still have a few days to prep, here’s how I suggest laying out the baking process:
- Day 1: Review the recipe one more time, do your grocery shopping and bake your cake layers.
- Day 2: Make your fillings.
- Day 3: Make the frosting. If you only have three days, you’ll want to assemble this day too.
- Day 4: If you have an extra day, assemble the cake on day 4 a few hours before you plan to serve it.
If You Have Two Days
Now let’s say you just have two days to get everything together, here’s how I would plan out the process:
- Day 1: Shop for ingredients in the morning. By lunchtime, plan on making the cake layers. If you have fillings to make, try to get those done in the afternoon or evening when the kids go to bed.
- Day 2: On day 2, when you plan to serve the cake, you’ll want to make the frosting and assemble the cake. You can make the frosting in the morning and let it sit at room temperature for a few hours (covered well), and then re-beat it for a few minutes right before you start to assemble the cake.
If You Have One Day
If you only have one day to make a cake, pick something simple. To me, something simple is a cake that only has two elements to it: cake layers and buttercream.
- Morning: Shop for ingredients and then make your cake layers. Even though you’ll be putting the cake together in a few hours, you still want to let your cake cool to room temperature, wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it for an hour. You’ll have a much easier time decorating your cake if your cake layers are chilled.
- Evening: EAT!
Making Cakes Ahead of Time
Another option is to make the entire cake ahead of time and freeze it. I like to do this if I have a cake deadline in the near future but don’t have the availability to make the cake near the time I actually need to deliver it or serve it.
I wrote an entire blog post about How to Freeze, Thaw and Transport You Cakes. You can read the entire post for all the details, but here’s the reader’s digest version:
- Once the frosting is set, wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap.
- The night before you want to serve your cake, move it to the refrigerator (still wrapped).
- The next morning, move the cake to room temperature. You can leave the plastic wrap on for the first hour or two. You’ll then remove the plastic wrap and keep the cake in an airtight container like a cake box or cake carrier.
- If you have any condensation appear on the cake, just gently pat it dry with a paper towel.
Alright! You’re all set to plan out your next cake! What’s it going to be?
Some Recipes You’ll Love
A step-by-step guide to baking vanilla, chocolate, and apple cakes (plus tips and tricks)
There’s nothing like the taste of a cake you made in your own kitchen. But is the delicious reward really worth all the work? Believe it or not, baking a cake is pretty simple! With the right direction, you can make a delicious cake from scratch. Check out these easy recipes for beginner bakers that’ll have you feeling like a seasoned pro in no time.
Things You Should Know
- Grease your cake pan with butter and flour to keep your cake from sticking to it.
- Mix your dry and wet ingredients separately and then combine them to avoid overmixing your batter.
- Stick a toothpick into the center of the cake to see if it’s done—if it comes out clean, take the cake out of the oven.
- 1 cup (200 g) of unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup (200 g) of granulated sugar
- ½ tsp (3 g) of salt
- 2 teaspoons (9.9 mL) of vanilla extract
- 5 eggs, room temperature
- 2 cups (400 g) of cake flour
- ¾ cup (170 g) of unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup (94 g) of unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¾ cup (90 g) of flour
- ¼ tsp (1 g) of salt
- ½ tsp (3 g) of baking powder
- 1 cup (225 g) of granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon (4.9 mL) of vanilla extract
- cup (120 mL) of buttermilk or sour cream
- ¾ cup (94 g) of flour
- ¾ tsp (4 g) of baking powder
- 4 large apples of any variety
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- ¾ cup (170 g) of granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- teaspoon (2.5 mL) of vanilla extract
- cup (120 mL) of unsalted butter, melted
- Believe it or not, sugar is a wet ingredient because it’s always creamed with butter (a wet ingredient).
- If you don’t have cake flour, use 2 cups (400 g) of all-purpose flour and 2 tbsp (28 g) of cornstarch.
- Greasing and flouring the pan makes it easier to remove your cake later.
- Add the eggs and vanilla to the butter mixture. Add the eggs one at a time to the creamed butter and sugar, making sure not to get any shells in the bowl. Drop in 2 teaspoons (9.9 mL) of vanilla extract, and combine everything with your electric mixer.Beat the mixture until the eggs are completely incorporated with the butter.
- Beat the mixture until the eggs are completely incorporated with the butter.
- Stir in the cake flour. Dump the flour into the bowl. Keep your mixer on low, or stir the flour into the egg and butter mixture with a wooden spoon. Mix until everything is incorporated.
- Pour the cake batter into your greased pan. Use a spatula to scrape the batter from the bowl and into the pan. Smooth out the top with the back of the spatula, and bang the pan on the counter once or twice to release any air bubbles.
- Bake the cake for an hour. Place your filled pan in the oven in the center of the bottom rack, and set your timer. Check your cake after 1 hour by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, it’s done! If the toothpick has batter on it, leave the cake in the oven for 5 more minutes.
Continue testing your cake in 5-minute intervals if it’s not done after the hour. Take it out of the oven the moment the toothpick comes out clean.
- Continue testing your cake in 5-minute intervals if it’s not done after the hour. Take it out of the oven the moment the toothpick comes out clean.
- Gather your ingredients. You’ll need your average dry and wet ingredients and 4 large apples for this apple cake recipe. The dry ingredients include ¾ cup (94 g) of all-purpose flour, ¾ tsp (4 g) of baking powder, and a pinch of salt. The wet ingredients are 2 eggs, ¾ cup (94 g) of sugar, teaspoon (2.5 mL) of vanilla extract, and cup (120 mL) of melted butter.
Choose whichever apple you like the flavor profile of the most. Granny Smith apples will give your cake a tart flavor, whereas Fuji apples will make it sweet.
- Choose whichever apple you like the flavor profile of the most. Granny Smith apples will give your cake a tart flavor, whereas Fuji apples will make it sweet.
- Grease and flour your cake pan, then preheat the oven to 350 °F (177 °C). Use a 8 in (20 cm) springform pan for this recipe, as it’ll make removing it that much easier later. Rub butter inside the pan, then sprinkle a small amount of flour over it. This keeps the cake from sticking to the pan while it bakes.
- Melt the butter and allow it to cool. Put the butter in the microwave or on the stovetop and warm it until it becomes liquid. Let it come to room temperature while you prepare your other ingredients.
- Try to make all your apple chunks the same size, so they cook evenly in your cake.
- Blend the wet ingredients together. Use a hand or stand mixer to cream the sugar and butter. Then, add the eggs one by one, mixing the batter in between. Finally, incorporate the vanilla into the batter.
- Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Pour half of the dry mixture into the wet mixture and stir until all the flour is incorporated. Then, dump the rest of the dry mixture into the batter and stir again. Stop mixing once no flour can be seen.Do your best not to overmix your batter, which could give your cake a gummy texture.
- Do your best not to overmix your batter, which could give your cake a gummy texture.
- Fold in the apples. Use a spatula to gently incorporate the apples into the batter. Don’t over-mix the batter, since this will lead to a dense, stiff cake.
- Read the ingredients list and directions before you start baking. Having your ingredients ready to go can save a lot of time and hassle. Make sure you know what a recipe entails before you decide to bake it, especially if it means taking a quick trip to the grocery store.
- This process is called “greasing” and prevents the cake from sticking to the pan while it bakes.
- Mix the cake batter as specified in the recipe. Some recipes can be mixed with a stand or hand mixer, while others ask to be folded with a spoon or spatula. This wording is especially important because how you mix a batter can change its density and texture.For example, angel food cakes are often folded to keep their light and fluffy texture.
- For example, angel food cakes are often folded to keep their light and fluffy texture.
- Place the pans on the center rack of the preheated oven. The center or bottom rack (depending on your oven’s design) is the hottest area of your oven. Setting your cake there to cook ensures that it’ll cook evenly.
Put cake pans on a baking sheet in case the batter bubbles over.Keep cake pans from touching each other or the oven wall while baking.
- Put cake pans on a baking sheet in case the batter bubbles over.
- Keep cake pans from touching each other or the oven wall while baking.
- Set a timer for the median of a recipe’s baking time. If the recipe has a baking time range, set your timer to the median or middle number. For instance, bake it for 35 minutes for a range of 34 to 36 minutes. Using the median will ensure that the cake won’t be under- or over-cooked.
Resist the urge to open the oven door while your cake is baking, as this makes heat escape and may cause things to cook unevenly.
- Resist the urge to open the oven door while your cake is baking, as this makes heat escape and may cause things to cook unevenly.
- Check for cake doneness. Gently insert a toothpick or wooden skewer into the center of a cake before turning off the oven. The cake is done if the toothpick comes out clean or has a few small crumbs on it. If it doesn’t, place the cake back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
- Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 to 30 minutes. Run a thin spatula around the pan edges to loosen the sides. Place the wire rack over the top of the pan, invert it, and tap it lightly to remove the cake.
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- Oven temperatures vary, so keep a close eye on your cake to make sure it doesn’t over-bake.
- Always wear oven mitts or protective gloves when retrieving the cake from the oven to avoid burns.
- Keep small children and pets out of the way when opening a hot oven.
Things You’ll Need
- Measuring implements
- Hand or stand mixer
- Baking pans
- Toothpick (or wooden skewer)
- Oven mitts or protective gloves
- Cooling rack
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Are you ready to learn how to make perfect cakes to impress your friends and family? In this baking tips post, I will teach you 10 Tips for Baking Perfect Cakes! With these tips and tricks, you will be able to take your cakes to the next level, making them look professional and taste amazing!
Cakes are works of art. There are endless possibilities of flavors and ways to decorate cakes. Cakes are central to numerous celebrations in our lives and are always the focal point of any party.
Many people feel intimidated by baking cakes, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Through my years as a baker, I have picked up some simple tricks along the way to help make my cakes look and taste spectacular. These tips are easy things you can do to help make your cakes look impressive and professional. Here are my top 10 Tips for Baking Perfect Cakes!
Ingredients at room temperature
This is an important one folks! Allow all of your cold ingredients to come to room temperature before making your cake batter.
Butter, eggs, milk, sour cream, or other chilled cake ingredients have an easier time combining and emulsifying to create the perfect cake crumb. We are looking to achieve a tender, soft cake crumb, but also one that maintains structure.
Think about it. Would you rather jump into an ice cold swimming pool or one that is closer to your body temperature? I choose the second one! If you pour cold milk into warm butter, the butter will seize up. We are looking for all the ingredients to combine well and play nice with each other!
I don’t always remember to pull my ingredients out of the refrigerator before I am baking! So I have a couple quick tips to help!
- Butter – Place wrapped butter in the microwave and heat in 5 second intervals, turning the stick of butter 1/4 turn each time. Once you start to feel the butter slightly soften, remove the butter from the microwave.
- Eggs – Place cold eggs in a bowl and fill the bowl with hot water (not boiling). Allow eggs to sit in the water for 5 minutes.
- Milk – Pour milk into a glass measuring cup and microwave for 30 seconds. Test the temperature and continue to microwave in 10 second bursts until room temperature.
Use parchment paper for a clean release
Have you ever made a delicious cake and as you invert the pan to remove it, half the cake plops onto the cooling rack and half is stuck to the bottom of your pan? Heartbreaking, I know. Been there, done that! Perfect cakes aren’t pieced back together with frosting and prayers!
Parchment paper is an easy way to prevent this from ever happening to you! By lining the bottom of your cake pans with parchment paper, you are guaranteeing a clean release from your pan and a perfectly flat and even bottom. My favorite can pans are Fat Daddio’s Anodized Aluminum Cake Pans because they bake the cakes evenly!
I love using parchment paper circles to save on time and effort! I usually have 6 inch, 7 inch, and 8 inch parchment circles on hand because those are the size cakes I make the most often! Of course you can figure out what size pans you use the most and invest in parchment circles to fit.
Place the parchment paper flat on your countertop and place your cake pans on the parchment. Using a pen, trace around the cake pans. Then cut the circles out of the parchment.
To prepare the cake pans, spray the cake pans with non-stick cooking spray on the sides and bottom. Then place the parchment circle in the bottom! It is now ready for batter!
Once your cakes have cooled, you will invert the pans and peel the parchment paper off the bottom. You will have a perfectly flat cake bottom!
Measure/weigh batter for even cake layers
I love the way a cake looks when you cut into it and all of the layers are perfectly even. Yes, I have slight OCD tendencies. One way to help us achieve even layers is to ensure that there are equal amounts of cake batter in each pan.
My favorite way of measuring cake batter is to use a kitchen scale. They are relatively inexpensive and I am not lying when I say that I use my kitchen scale every single day for cooking and baking. This is one of my essential kitchen tools.
First, “eyeball” the amount of cake batter by dividing it into the cake pans. I usually leave a little batter in the bowl to even out the layers once they are weighed. Next, weigh the cake pans. Add the cake batter remaining in the bowl to even out the weights so that they are all the same. We aren’t looking for perfection here, just close proximity. Sometimes you may have to steal a little batter from one pan to put in the other.
If you do not have a kitchen scale and do not wish to get one, another great way to measure out the cake batter is using measuring cups. Simply scoop the cake batter using a 1 cup measuring cup and divide equally between the pans!
Bake at a lower temperature for a longer time
I presume that the lower heat makes the leavening agents (baking soda or baking powder) in the cake batter react more slowly, which leads to a slower rise. If the heat is too high, the cake will rise too quickly causing the cake to have large cake humps (affectionately).
As one of the keys to a perfect cake is to have nice even layers, we would be cutting the cake humps off anyway, so by allowing the cakes to rise slowly and evenly, there is less cake for us to carve off.
Touch test instead of a toothpick
My favorite way to test if cakes are done baking is to give them a little poke! A GENTLE poke. If the cake bounces back and regains it’s shape, you are ready to remove it from the oven! If the cake feels wet, does not bounce back, or a slight indentation forms, keep baking!
I have nothing against toothpicks, I just don’t always have them. Plus, I have found that the touch test is a more accurate way to test for doneness. I have had toothpicks lie to me in the past as well. My finger poke has yet to lie to me!
Cool the cakes completely in the pan
Whaaaaaat? Yes, really. Cool the cakes in the pans.
This may seem strange and counterintuitive, but I have found that this strategy works extremely well.
If you try and remove the cakes too soon, there is a higher likelihood that they will crack and break. Cooling the cakes in the pans to room temperature reduces the chance that this will happen.
I urge you to still be gentle with your cake layers. They are sensitive.
Take a butter knife or small offset spatula and run it between the cake and pan to ensure that the cake is detached from the sides. Then invert the cake and remove from the pan. Peel off the parchment and you are good to go!
Chill cakes completely before leveling or icing
Chilling the cakes before you level or frost them is a great way to reduce the chances of cracking. By chilling the cake layers, the cake becomes more stable and easier to carve and frost.
Once the cakes are completely cooled and removed from their pans, wrap each individual layer in plastic wrap and chill overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, unwrap the layers and immediately level them (see below).
While they are still cool, fill the cake with your desired fillings and do a crumb coat (see below). Chilling the cake layers before carving and frosting and during the decorating process is a helpful way to ensure your cakes come out looking smooth, even, and perfect!
Level cake layers before icing and stacking
Leveling cake layers means cutting off the cake humps to create a flat surface. This makes the finished cake look spectacular! With even, flat layers, not only will the cake look great on the outside, but the inside as well. When you cut into the cake you will be able to see uniform layers.
There are tools specially designed to level cakes that can be used. Personally, I don’t use them. My tool of choice is a serrated bread knife.
What I do is place the cake layer on a cake turntable. If you do not have a cake turntable, you will still be able to level your layers. Using a gentle sawing motion, I cut around the top of the cake, right underneath where the cake hump starts.
Once there is a slight cut into the circumference of the cake, cut through the cake using a sawing motion. Keep your arm and elbow close to your body for stabilization.
Remove the cake hump and proceed to enjoy your snack! Or save for cake pops!
If you would like to be extra, you can cut the caramelization off of the edges and bottom of the cake. Caramelization is the natural browning that occurs as a result of the cake touching the pan. By cutting it off you will have an even more beautiful slice. If you have a chocolate cake, don’t waste your time.
Measure out filling for even layers
Just as we are looking to achieve even layers of cake, perfect cakes have even layers of filling. Cake filling possibilities are endless. Buttercream, custards, mousses, and fruit fillings are the most common.
In order to create uniform layers of filling, measuring your filling for in between each layer.
There are two simple ways to do this: (1) use measuring cups and (2) use a cookie/cupcake scoop. Simply measure out the filling and repeat the same amount between each cake layer.
A crumb coat is essential to creating the perfect cake. The crumb coat is a very thin first layer of frosting that traps all of the cake crumbs so that when you put your final layer of frosting on, it is smooth and crumb-free.
Using an offset spatula, the cake is completely covered in a thin layer of frosting and then chilled for about 30 minutes for the buttercream to firm up. This ensures that the crumbs are trapped so they don’t sneak into your final layer.
Creating a crumb coat will also help with the stability of your cake. If you are filling your cake with buttercream or another filling, the crumb coat and chilling the cake will help prevent the layers from sliding!
My favorite go-to frosting is my Vanilla American Buttercream. My Vanilla American Buttercream is light, fluffy, not overly sweet, and is packed with vanilla flavor. It only takes 5 ingredients and 10 minutes to make and is a great buttercream to make the perfect cake!