Baked to Perfection:
- Unless otherwise stated, place your cake in the center shelf of the oven to bake. If your oven tends to cook more quickly at the back or sides, carefully turn the cake pan or cookie sheet around toward the end of the cooking time.
- Resist the temptation to open the oven door too often during cooking, and close it gently rather than banging it shut. It’s best to try to wait until at least halfway through the cooking time before sneaking a look. A quick peep won’t harm the cake, but if you open the door too often, the temperature will drop and this may prevent the cake from rising properly.
- To test light sponge cakes for doneness press the top lightly with a fingertip–the cake should feel spongy to the touch and spring back when released. To check rich fruit cakes for doneness, listen closely–if the cake is still sizzling inside, it is not yet thoroughly cooked. Most large cakes will shrink slightly from the side of the pan when they are cooked. As a final test, insert a toothpick or thin knife into the center of the cake, then lift it out. If the cake is cooked, it should come out clean; if it’s sticky, the mixture needs more cooking.
- Most cakes should be cooled slightly in the pan before turning out, as they shrink from the sides of the pan and become firmer, so turning out is easier.
- Use a metal cooking rack for cooling cakes to make sure that any excess steam can escape without making the cake soggy. If you don’t have a cooling rack, use the rack from a broiler pan or a barbecue rack.
- Always make sure your cake is completely cool before storing, as if any steam remains, it can cause mold. Store cakes for short periods in a ventilated container with a close-fitting lid. Use airtight containers or sealed plastic bags for freezing.
Hope you learned something this week or were reminded of something that could improve your already exemplary skills. See you in the kitchen!
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