1. Use a good recipe
For guaranteed results it’s important to follow baking recipes to the letter so your cake will only ever be as good as the recipe you use. Start with a recipe from a place you trust. A lot of recipes, particularly on the internet, haven’t been tried and tested (Ours Have)
2. Use the tin size stated in the recipe
If you want to use a different one then you’ll need to adjust the cooking time & your mixture quantity.
Baking paper works really well for lining as it’s non-stick. Softened butter & flour, are alternatives, but I prefer a release agent Tinmax . If you’re cooking a cake for a long time (rich fruit cake, for example), it’s worth wrapping the outside of the tin too using brown paper and string to stop the edges from burning.
3. Preheat the oven
If you put a cake into an oven that’s not hot enough, it will affect the way it rises. Fan ovens can dry a cake slightly so for a longer shelf-life use the conventional setting.
4. Be accurate with weights and ingredients
Make sure you use the exact measurements and ingredients as stated in the recipe. You can’t just add more baking powder if you want your cake to rise more or substitute self-raising flour for plain. Use measuring spoons rather than estimating to ensure accuracy. Also, avoid mixing imperial and metric measurements, pick one or the other.
5. Make sure ingredients are the right temperature
Most recipes require the fat and eggs to be at room temperature. If you take the butter straight from the fridge it doesn’t cream well and cold eggs could curdle the cake mixture.
6. Once the cake mixture is made put it straight into the oven
The raising agent will start working as soon as it comes into contact with any of the ‘wet’ ingredients so to ensure a good rise your cake mixture should go into the oven straightaway.
7. Put the cake on the correct shelf and keep the oven door closed
Cakes are generally best placed on the middle shelf to ensure even cooking.
Once the cake is in, avoid opening the door until it’s almost cooked. If you allow cold air into the oven the cake is likely to collapse, you need to wait until it’s properly set before taking a peek. Similarly, when you’re putting the cake into the oven, don’t muck around and let all the heat out.
8. Stick to cooking times
If you’ve used the right tin and you’ve got a good oven, the timings stated in the recipe should be accurate. As ovens do vary, check the cake just before the end of the cooking time. A cake that is cooked through should feel the same if pressed around the edges or in the middle. Also, a skewer inserted in the centre should come out dry.
9. Cooling cakes
Recipes will usually give instructions for cooling but as a general rule, most cakes are best left in there tins for as long as possible to cool down properly, trying to get the cake out while it is still warm can & most time will break it. Rich fruit cakes are better cooled in the tin.