Read the recipe and ingredient list and make sure you have EVERYTHING you need before you start. Take note that large eggs are the most common for baking. Make sure you understand all of the baking terms, as well. For example if your recipe calls for creaming the butter and sugar together and you’re not sure what that means use our Baking Terms & Technique Guide for the definition. If you can’t find the term you are looking for in our guide a quick Google search of the term should do the trick.
Make sure you have the proper shape and size cake pan for your recipe. Some cakes can be baked in a variety of pans while others need a specific pan. Bundt cakes need a Bundt pan, cheesecakes need a springform pan, sheet cakes need a sheet cake pan and so on. If you need a cake pan we have hundreds to choose from – just visit our Cake Pan page.
Turn the oven ON! Nothing is more aggravating the when you go to place your cake in the oven only to realize you never turned the oven on. Baking requires that you preheat your oven. Give it a good 20 minutes to preheat. This is also a good time to make sure the oven racks are in the right position before they get hot. Place the rack in the center of the oven and make sure the second rack won’t be in the way when you go to put you cake pan or pans on the center rack.
Once you have the oven set to the proper temperature and the proper cake pan for your recipe it’s time to grease the pan to prevent the cake from sticking.
Gather ALL of your ingredients before you start to preparation. Most cake recipes need the ingredients to be at room temperature, eggs, butter, etc. Double check your recipe to make sure. Once all of the ingredients are gathered it’s time to get out your measuring cups and spoons. Be accurate! Taking the time and care to measure all of your ingredients exactly before you start mixing is a good habit to get into. And, if the recipe calls for sifted flour it’s important you don’t overlook or skip this step.
Add the ingredients in the order the recipe calls for and mix as instructed. Most cakes benefit from using an electric mixer as they incorporate more air into the cake batter than mixing with a spoon. The results are a lighter cake texture. You can use an electric hand-held mixer or a stand mixer. Incorporate all of the ingredients well taking care to scrap down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as you go along.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared (greased and floured) cake pans. Fold a kitchen towel in half and place it on the counter. Then gently tap the cake pan onto the covered counter surface a few times. This step helps remove any trapped air bubbles within the cake batter.
Place the cake pan in the center of the preheated oven. If you are using two cake pans make sure they are not touching and air can flow around them. This helps the cakes to bake evenly. Close the door and set the timer per the recipe. Don’t open the oven until the timer goes off. If the recipe gives you a range, say 40-45 minutes, set the timer to 40 minutes and check the cake for doneness when the timer goes off. Remove the cake from the oven and shut the oven door. You don’t want the heat to escape while you checking the cake. Insert a clean toothpick, wooden skewer or a cake tester into the center of the cake. If the cake tester comes out wet place the cake back into the oven and set the timer for another five minutes and check again. When the tester comes out clean or with a few small dry crumbs the cake is done baking.
When the cake is done turn off the oven and take the cake pan out and place it right side up on a wire cooling rack. Set the timer for ten minutes. This is the optimal time to remove the cake from the pan. After ten minutes run a clean butter knife around the edges (sides) of the pan to loosen the sides of the cake. Then place the cooling rack on top and turn the pan over. Tap the bottom of the cake pan gently a few times and the cake should release onto the cooling rack. Let the cake cool completely before decorating. Then frost and decorate as the recipe suggests.
Beginners Tip: Sprinkle the cooled cake with confectioner’s sugar instead of frosting. You can use a duster or a small fine sieve. It’s quick, easy and looks terrific, especially on Bundt cakes.