Monday, 17 June 2013

How To Make A Cake From Scratch

If you are looking for a guide on how to make a cake from scratch, you came to the right place. Many women are overwhelmed with the idea of baking, but this can be achieved even by a beginner. The first thing you need to do is to decide what kind, shape and how many layers of cake to bake.

1. Choosing a cake design.

There are plenty of cookbooks, magazines and websites to check out for your desired cake design. If it is your first time to make a cake, it is sensible to create a simple cake first and then finish it with butter cream or chocolate ganache. However, as you go along, it is always best to challenge yourself to go out of your comfort zone and try something more difficult than you are used to.

2. Prepare ingredients.

Assuming you have bought all the necessary ingredients for your chosen cake design and flavor, set up your work space and put everything in place. Everyone likes chocolate cakes and they are not too difficult to make. Check out this dark chocolate cake recipe from scratch.

Carefully measure and prepare each ingredient before you start mixing and baking and look for substitutes if some you can't find some of your ingredients. After doing so, you are ready to bake.

3. Make the cake batter.

Most cake decorators recommend to combine the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients in the separate bowls and mix them together in one bowl, thereafter. Some recipes would call for you to mix thoroughly, whereas some would tell you to mix just until combined.
The reason for this is that you do not want to introduce a lot of air and stir the flour too much to encourage gluten-formation. This can cause a cake to have a rubbery consistency. You want your cake to be as soft as possible.

 4. Bake the cake as required.

After mixing the ingredients, according to the recipe, pour on prepared cake pans of your preferred shape and bake at 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Most bakers would advise you to bake at this temperature.
Also, some cakes are baked through au bain marie, which means you would have to bake them in a water bath with water up to the sides of the cake pans. Baking this way would require you to lower the temperature a bit and cover the cake pan with foil to prevent moist from drowning the batter.
The cake is done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with very few crumbs clinging (if you want moist, fudge-y cake). Set the cake aside until cool. You may refrigerate it at this moment. You can already create a filling for the cake at this point, if the recipe calls for it.

5. Level the cake and assemble.

If you are baking a two-layered cake, taper the top of each cake to create flatter surfaces on top. Assemble the cake on a turntable (if you have one) and a cake board according to your preferred cake design.

Usually, various kinds of cake fillings are used to moisten the middle such as frosting, fruits, chocolate and other interesting sauces or custards. Top the remaining cake layer after filling in the middle.

6. Frost the cake.

You can choose a frosting from many different types of cake icing to decorate your cake. You can use a piping bag or a pastry gun with an appropriate tip to do this. Chill and serve or put it in a nice cake box to give away as a gift.

Some images are courtesy of digitalart

7 Types of Cake Icing for New Bakers to Try

There are many types of cake icing and each woman prefers a different one on her cake. Also, while some are quite easy to make, others will take plenty of time and practice to perfect, not to mention, it can be really intimidating for beginners as well as some of those who have been baking for a long time.

The most important thing to remember to master each of these is to not be afraid to repeatedly try and fail, until such time that you will achieve the right consistency for each. It can be a lot of fun to learn how to make a cake from scratch and you

Here are the most popular kinds of cake icing that you can use to finish your cakes.

1. Butter Cream

Butter cream is made of sifted powdered sugar, milk and superior butter. The quality of butter used will reflect on the appearance, consistency and taste of your butter cream frosting. 

Children love this type of frosting and is one of the most common types used in cake decorating and the secret is whipping up the butter at the right temperature. Also, since this type of cake icing melts easily in hot weather, the finished cake must be chilled prior to serving to prevent the butter cream frosting from losing its stiffness.

2. Whipped Cream

This type of cake icing is achieved using cold heavy whipping cream and sugar. Some would advise you to use powdered sugar but ordinary granulated sugar would work just as well. 

You can also add your preferred extract or flavoring to match your cake's flavor. This is a favorite among those who love a light and easy-to-make frosting on their cake.

3. Royal Icing

This type of cake icing dries into a hard outer shell. It is also one of the easiest to dye with edible colorings. There are two ways to make this type of frosting: using egg whites (like a meringue icing) and powdered sugar or by using meringue powder in place of egg whites. 

This type of icing is also used to "flood" or color sugar cookies by adding a bit more water to make it pourable. The baker then uses different cake decorating tools to draw features on plain biscuits or cookies.

4. Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream cheese frosting is made with part butter cream frosting and a good quality cream cheese. This type of frosting is usually perfect for carrot cakes, red velvet cakes and as a filling for doughnuts and cupcakes because of its consistency. 

It is a bit heavier to spread than most types of cake icing. Some would even put cream cheese frosting on their bread as a standalone spread!

5. Meringue

The basic ingredients for this frosting are egg whites, cold water and granulated sugar and is one of the most common types of cake icing. It is light and fluffy because air is introduced into the egg mixture to create a stiff consistency. 

Adding some butter and you'll have a combined meringue and butter cream frosting, and there are three popular varieties for this type of cake icing: French, Italian and Swiss. The difference between the Swiss and Italian Meringue frosting is the method of beating the eggs. 

Swiss meringue butter cream frosting involves whisking the egg whites au bain marie or on a hot water bath, heating them to a certain temperature and is an entirely different topic on its own. 

On the other hand, Italian meringue butter cream frosting involves adding the caramelized sugar into the meringue mixture, thereafter, adding the butter cream mixture. Ideally, you should have two separate mixing bowls to beat the two mixtures before combining them.

French meringue butter cream frosting, in contrast, does not require heating the egg whites. Essentially, it is an uncooked meringue butter cream frosting.

6. Fondant

This is a popular heavy frosting among celebration cakes because it is easy to sculpt and work out. Usually, cake decorators also frost on top of the fondant using butter cream or other types of cake icing. 

Basic fondant ingredients include gelatine, glycerine, water, icing or castor sugar (lighter than powdered sugar) and shortening. Other bakers would recommend using marshmallows in place of gelatine and glycerine.

Fondant is made by melting marshmallows (or heating the gelatine mixture) and adding the rest of the ingredients until you achieve the right consistency, which ideally, should stretch but should not tear easily. This cake icing is quite heavy and sculpting it to various shapes is possible with the use of carving and decorating tools. 

7. Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate ganache and glazing are probably the most easiest cake icings to make. Watch my video tutorial how to prepare chocolate ganache:

You can watch this video by clicking the play button above or on my YouTube channel under "How to make easy dark chocolate cake frosting recipe"

These are only some of the types of cake icing that you can use to finish your cake. However, always remember that a cake should be delicious even when eaten without the frosting. 

The finishing touches and the decor should then heighten the cake eating experience to a higher level. Also, there is no limit to what you can do with edible cake toppers for your cake decorating, so have fun while you're at it.

Some images are courtesy of digitalart

5 Cake Decorators Tips For Beginners

Cake decorating is important because it gives a cake its own personality but it can be quite intimidating, especially if you doubt your abilities to create a beautiful cake. 

This hesitation usually comes from not knowing where to start or what instruments and equipment to buy. Furthermore, some just get overwhelmed with the amount of information that is available for cake decorators and don't get to start as a result.

Here are some tips that you should consider if you want to learn the art of cake decorating.

1. Try out simple projects and complete your tools later on.

People are naturally goal-oriented and trying out simple cake decorating projects will eventually help you get used to your basic tools and techniques. 

As you learn how to make a cake from scratch you may need more advanced decorating tools. However, it is advisable not to buy unless you really need them. You can attempt to do recipes with increasing difficulties over time.

2. Read and watch tutorials.

Invest in good books or cake decorating tutorials made by known cake decorators and study the pictures and tools that they recommend. This way you can learn piping techniques, making different types of cake icing to the right consistency and try a variety of cake designs.

3. Invest in good equipment.

If you are going to buy baking and cake decorating tools, make sure to buy high quality tools, which you can also possibly use in starting a small cake business at home. Take note that high quality does not mean expensive.

Don't waste money on something that you won't use often. Most basic tools and equipment include: cake pans, cake turntable, spatulas, piping tips and bags and a good mixer for making cake icing.

4. Learn how to make cake boards.

Initially, you can buy these from cake supply stores but ready-made cake boards can be expensive if you constantly bake cakes, so learn how to make one. There are plenty of materials that you can use like card boards, ply board, and other synthetic material wrapped in food-grade paper or foil.

5. Practice and let your friends judge your work.

Practice makes perfect. Do not get discouraged after failing to make a satisfactory-looking-or-tasting icing. Each day is a new day and make sure to take down notes to know what to do and what not to do when doing a particular recipe. 

Your friends and family can taste-test your cakes and see if they like your creations. Do not worry about unforgiving comments and take them constructively.

Finally, if you feel like you want to study but also need further assistance with more advanced techniques, scout for professional cake decorators. The easiest and affordable way to learn cake decorating is to enroll into an online class.

While group cake decorating classes in your area can be a great learning experience they are often very expensive and not suitable for everyone. Also, not hesitate to study if you know you're the type of person who needs a professional decorator's guidance. You'll have more fun cake decorating when you're confident with your abilities.

Some images are courtesy of digitalart