With this post I aim to help those of you guys who are baking for the first time and also whose of you who have had bitter experiences while baking.First of, Baking is very different from cooking and can get daunting at first and that’s the reason I have written this post.
I have also shared a saveable infographic which will help you bake your first cake.Do write to me if you have any other queries or challenges and I will try to help you out to the best of my ability.
What kind of oven should I buy?
if you already have an oven Skip ahead.
I always suggest the first time bakers that the oven you buy should have the following things
- It should be big enough to fit a whole Chicken inside
- It should be small enough to not take too much space on counter
- It should have temperature dials and settings.
Preheating the Oven
When baking your cake, the oven should always be preheated- aka already at a uniform set temperature for the chemical reaction to work correctly.
This is the foundation of good baking! Never Start with a cold oven.
Usually Preheat the oven for at-least 10 minutes at the temperature given in the recipe(usually 180 degrees C)
Most baking recipes need a standard measuring cup and spoon set.You can’t do what we did with Maggi as kids and use any random tea cup.It won’t work the same way here.
One thing you have to realise here is that baking is a science-essentially a chemical reaction – which means all the ingredients are added in the correct ratio.So you can double or half the recipe but do so in a controlled manner with proper measuring cups.
Either buy a Measuring Cup and spoon set or in a pinch use a cup which can accommodate 250 Ml of water, though I would strongly urge you to buy a properly calibrated cups.
When you are baking for the first time this is one area that confuses the most.
You cannot bake in Steel,ionised and plastic because cannot stand the temperature inside an oven.
In addition to this I also have a Cast Iron Skillet that can be used on the stove and also in the oven.Cast iron is said to last probably more than you and your children’s life put together and that’s why its a great investment.If kept with care, it is a natural non stick without the toxic teflon coating.
How to line a Baking Pan
So you have everything in place.You have chosen a recipe, bought all the ingredients, painstakingly read through the recipe and followed everything but the cake refused to come out of the pan after baking.All your hardworking goes down the drain and you are forced to eat the cake off the cake pan.
This happens to almost all first time bakers.This is one step that’s usually skipped, which is almost as important as setting the oven temperature.Really!
Cut a base shape-slightly smaller than your pan and also line your sides.
As an added insurance, oil or butter your pan too.Just incase the butter paper moves.
Now with Bundt Pan-Cakes made in bundt pans are so so pretty but if you dont follow the rules, be prepared to be highly disappointed!
First clean the pans thouroughly.Set aside soft butter and really go to town with it.Brush every nook and corner of the cake pan and be super generous.After brushing with butter sprinkle flour, if making white cake or cocoa if making chocolate cake all over the pan.Shake off the extra flour/cocoa and then proceed to bake as per instructions.
Right Baking Temperature.
The oven needs to be set to the right temperature as per the recipe.Most cake recipes call for baking at 180 degrees except some cakes like Cheesecakes and a Pavlova which need lower temperatures.
As a Rule of Thumb- Set the Oven temperature at 180 degrees if the temperature isn’t mentioned in a recipe.
Every oven is different and that’s one reason baking times and oven temperatures will invariably differ.The other reason for non conformance is the type of pan you bake in.An aluminium pan will retain heat in a very different way from an oven safe borosil pan.
The size of the pan also makes a difference.A bigger- deeper pot will take longer to heat up and whereas a shallow small pan will heat up faster.aka- Muffins will probably take 10-15 minutes while a cake will take anywhere from 30-60 minutes.
Also if you keep opening and closing the oven door the baking time will suffer because you will end up changing the oven temperature.
Always expect the baking times to differ by +/-20 % every time.
If you are baking a cake-usually you can insert a skewer/toothpick or a knife inside the middle and side to check if its done.If the skewer comes out clean or with crumbs stuck the cake is usually done.If the skewer has some liquid batter stuck to it then it needs more time baking.
Keep on baking in increments of 10 minute till you get the desired result.
How to get a Flat Cake Top
When making layered cakes, it is essential to bake a flat top cake.This can be a challenge for most bakers and thats why there are some easy to follow tips that you can employ to make it happen.
- This technique works the best(atleast for me).Cut an old towel into long strips.Wet it with water.Wrap it around the cake tin before you slip it in the oven.The wet cloth will make sure that the sides of the cake rise along with the middles.
2. The other tip is to keep the baking temperature low.If the recipe calls for 180 degrees C, keep the temperature at 160-170 Degrees C.This will again make sure that the centre doesn’t rise too rapidly.
How to save broken cake?
There are times when you will still end up with a cake cracked right in the middle.Its a bummer I know! But here is what you can do
- If the crack isn’t too deep slice that bit off.
- If the crack is deep then you have two options
- Let the cake cool down.Fill the crack with butter cream icing and refrigerate for an hour or more before icing it.
- Accept defeat and serve the cake- as cake pops or trifles.
Cake is burning from the top but isn’t cooked inside.What should I do?
Sometimes,Especially in smaller ovens the top of the cake(or breads or bakes) can brown faster than the inside cooking.For example, the cake could be browning, almost reaching a burnt phase but the inside is still wobbly and undercooked.
In such a scenario,Cover the baking dish with foil and continue baking.This will prevent the top from burning and cook the inside.
Should I buy a stand mixer or a hand held mixer?
Buying a stand mixer is a dream but in India it is very very costly and might not be worth the investment if you are not a regular baker.
A hand held mixer is of much more use and doesn’t occupy as much space as a stand mixer and is also lighter on the pocket.
Where can I get Baking Supplies from in India?
Thankfully ,now there are a lot of online shops where you can source your baking supplies from in India.
Here is a list of all
Amazon-You would be surprised but almost everything from Flour to Colours to Fondant is available on Amazon.All the greatest Baking tins and equipment like Wilton and is available on Amazon.
Organic Baking-Healthy Buddha & Organic Tatva
Speciality Baking Online stores
Thankyou for reading.Now you are ready to take your bake your first Cake!
I have some super easy recipes for you!