How to know a good cake

How a quality cake should taste and feel.

A dry, crumbly cake when you’ve been anticipating a wedge of tender perfection is a very sad thing.

A quality cake should be first of all done and tender, here are some tips to help you know when your cake is done and tender;

  • When the Sides Pull Away: The cake is usually done when you see the sides of the cake just start to pull away from the pan. The outer edges will look dry and you’ll see a gap forming between the edge of the cake and the side of the pan.
  • When the Cake is fluffy: The middle of the cake should feel springy and fluffy if you gently press your finger against it.
  • When a Cake Tester Comes Out Clean: Any thin utensil can be used as a cake tester, but many bakers just use a simple toothpick or a table knife. If you insert it into the centre of the cake, it should come out clean, with no streaks of batter. A few small crumbs are ok!

Now, how about some tips in how the cake should look and taste after the icing is done;

  • The icing is not full of crumbs: Crumbs are the cake-decorator’s nemesis! They’re inevitable if you build a layer cake and have to split the layers, but there is a fix to minimize these irritating little morsels. A cake is good when it comes without crumbs.
  • The cake is not tough: Mixing is a tricky thing when it comes to cakes. One needs to find the perfect speed, temperature and duration to form perfectly sized little air cells to make the ideal texture. Toughness in cakes is caused by over-mixing, or the wrong type of flour. A good cake should be tender and spongy.
  • The cake is not dry: The culprits for dry cake are ingredients that absorb moisture, such as flour or other starches, cocoa or any milk solids. A second, and equally damaging culprit, is over baking.

And finally a little tip for the baker; when a cake has too much liquid, too much sugar or too little leavening (not excess flour, as is commonly thought). The cake will be dense in texture.

Solutions: Make sure you’re using wet measures for wet ingredients and dry measures for dry; check the freshness of your baking soda and powder, and check your oven temp to make sure it’s hot enough. A cake that bakes too slowly takes longer to set and may fall, causing a dense texture. Ask a specialist if the problem persist.

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