Have you been in search of some good instruction on how to make a cake from scratch? If you are just starting out as a baker, or maybe have no idea on how to start, then this post should help you understand the basics of how to make a cake from start to finish. There are a few materials you will need, starting with an 8-inch cake pan, a mixer, and some mixing bowls.
First off, heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit then gather your ingredients.
- 1½ c. sifted cake flour
- 1½ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ c. unsalted butter
- 1 c. sugar
- 2 large eggs
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ c. whole milk
As you have probably realized, there are many cake recipes out there, and the directions for preparation may vary. The technique used in this post consists of general cake baking tips and techniques that can be achieved by any home baker. It’s as simple as following the recipe.
Step 1: Cream your Butter and Sugar
This is the most important step, and it should not be overlooked if you want to achieve a light, fluffy and tender cake. Put your 1 cup of sugar and ½ cup of unsalted butter into your standing mixer or bowl. Turn the mixer on and watch the blades rotate and mix the sugar and butter together. The color of the butter lightens as the sugar granules melt into it. Creaming your butter and sugar gives you an evenly baked cake. This process should take about 3-5 minutes when the mixer is set to medium-high speed.
The result should be a light, fluffy and pale mixture. If you are using a hand mixer, take your time and ensure that you achieve the same consistency as using a stand mixer.
Step 2: Add your Eggs
The next step is to add your eggs. Only do this after your sugar and butter are completely creamed together. It is recommended that the eggs be at room temperature which will help create a smooth batter. If you add cold eggs, they may make the batter appear curdled. You may add your eggs when the mixer is running so that they mix properly. Add the eggs one at a time.
Step 3: Add the Flour and Milk
Start this step by sifting your
flour, salt, and baking powder together. Then, making sure your mixer is on low, add your flour to the sugar/butter mixture bit by bit until all of the flour has been incorporated. While the mixer is still running, add your milk and flavor extract of your choosing – usually vanilla.
Once the milk and extract have been fully mixed and absorbed, it is time to stop the mixer. Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixer to be sure all of the ingredients get mixed together. Mix the batter on medium until it is smooth and every bit of flour is undetectable.
Step 4: Pour into a Baking Pan
Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl using a spatula to make sure no flour sticks to the bottom of the bowl. Turn the batter into your 8 x 8 cake pan. Do not fill your pan to the top with the batter because you will need extra space for the cake to expand as it cooks. Smooth the top of the batter with a spatula and drop the pan against the counter to shake out any air bubbles.
Step 4: Place in the Oven
Allow your cake to bake for 25 to 30 mins. The cake will swell and puff up like a pillow as the heat of the oven makes the air pockets in the cake expand.
Step 5: Is it Ready?
When you want to check if your cake is ready on the inside, insert a toothpick into the center. The toothpick should come out clean. If the toothpick comes out wet, put your cake back in the oven. Check again after a few minutes. Another way to know if the cake is ready is by gently pressing the top of the cake with your finger. If it is done, it will spring back. Most times, the cake will pull away from the sides of the pan when it is done. Once the cake is ready, take it out of the oven and allow it to cool on a wire rack. Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes in the pan, if you force the cake out while it is still hot, it may break into pieces. After removing the cake from the pan, allow a bit more cooling before cutting, frosting or trimming. Now your cake is ready! Enjoy.