Over at Linoleum Dynamite you’ll find a chocolate cake recipe. It will take you all of seven minutes to make and will only use one bowl. Never made a cake from scratch? It’s not scary, promise. And it’s worth it, promise. Your Valentine would think the world of you, promise.
There is a science to baking. A science that I am trying to learn. I would like to pass on what I’ve learned in my limited yet growing knowledge on to you. I’ll start with cake basics. Because that’s what I made today. Duh. (You too can learn all this stuff. Try this book, this one, this one, and don’t forget about this guy.)
When making a cake you want all of your ingredients at room temperature. This is why many cake recipes will call for warm or hot water to be added. This is an easy way to cheat is if you don’t have time to bring all of your ingredients to room temperature. Why do this? Well, because when the ingredients are already at room temperature the the batter won’t have to warm up before it can start baking, leaving you with a more moist, tender cake. (Think of room temperature ingredients as cake foreplay, once it gets into the heat of things it can go straight to doing its job.)
Secondly, lining your cake pans is paramount. Look! I made a video to show you how! Spray your pan, measure your parchment and spray again. You should never have another stuck cake again. (Parchment is different than wax paper, it is coated with silicone and can withstand higher temperatures, nothing sticks to it and it won’t leave behind any strange flavors.)
Third. Oven thermometer. My oven can be off anywhere from 25 to 50 degrees depending on the weather. Don’t trust what you set it at. Trust an oven thermometer. Even if you have a digital convection oven, use an oven thermometer. Trust me.
Fourth. DON’T OPEN THE FREAKING DOOR. Every time you open the oven door you lose 25 to 50 degrees of heat. Which means the oven has to recover that heat before it can continue baking as usual. Recovery=longer baking time, drier baked goods and *gasp* fallen baked goods. KEEP THE DOOR SHUT. If you must check in on your food, get a baking stone and keep it in your oven at all times. It will retain heat and help your oven recover faster from all of your nosiness.
Fifth. Let your cake cool all the way before you frost it. Unless you like mushy piles of cake be patient. Good frosting is made mostly from what? Butter. And butter melts when put on something warm. Melted butter is slippery. Get my point?
The last thing I can think of is flour. Maybe you’ve seen cake flour. Cake flour has a lower protein content than all purpose flour and all purpose flour has a lower protein content than bread flour. Cake flour will give you a very light, tender cake. All purpose flour will give you a sturdier, denser cake.
Cake is the result of a bunch of tiny air bubbles formed by steam trapped inside the protein of the flour. How tough those air bubbles are depends on how much protein is in your flour. Let’s say cake flour is like a bubble blown with bubble gum. Soft and easy to break. (Soft, tender cake) All purpose flour will give you bubbles that more resemble a latex balloon, thin, but harder to pop. Bread flour ends up being more like a rubber ball. Much harder to pop and therefore chewier and denser (think french bread).
If that analogy doesn’t make sense to you I’m sad, because it totally makes sense to me.
So there’s my cake knowledge. Go forth and prosper. And check out the recipe at Linoleum Dynamite. I drew a happy face on the finished product.