Nothing makes a home smell so wonderful as something baking in the oven....cakes, cookies, or pies. Nothing can frustrate or discourage a baker than a cake, cookie or pie that doesn't turn out properly. It can even be insulting to the cook.
Cakes can fall flat, or dry out, crumble, stick to the pan or come out tough. It happens to every baker at one time or another. It is said that baking is a science and whether you like it or not, baking has rules that will help making your goods come out their best.
Sometimes without knowing, we have bad habits that we use and it is the little things that when combined together help to make baking go awry. Here are some tips, tricks, dos and don'ts
Grease the pan. You can grease and then dust with flour or you can line the pan with parchment paper and then all you need to do is turn the cake upside down and pull off the parchment paper.
Make sure the oven is properly heated. Putting a cake in the oven before the oven warms up, does not help. There is just no shortcut for this one.
Put the oven rack in the middle and bake from there.
Use the pan measurements in the recipe. Don't change the pan, you might end up with a surprise you won't like.
Don't double the recipe becasue it will throw off the cooking time and the pan size. You are better off to make two separate batches and bake. Instead find a cake recipe that is bigger and the ingredient amounts will be indicated along with the size of pans.
Use fresh ingredients. This one could be tough sometimes. Farm fresh ingredients will definitely change the taste and texture of a recipe. Some of us just don't have farm access, so the grocery has to do.
Make sure that your cornstarch and baking powder and baking soda is not too old, that could play a factor.
Use room temperature ingredients, butter, margarine, eggs, milk because they will mix together much more completely
Baking soda and baking powder are NOT the same thing and they can not be substituted one for the other. The scientific explanation is long but baking soda is stronger than baking powder so do some research beforehand.
To make your cake taste more vanilla, try adding just a pinch of almond emulsion to vanilla cake like 1/4-1/2 tsp.
If you are adding chippets or fruit to your cake, coat them in flour and that will help to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the pan
Banana cakes, pumpkin cakes, carrot cake, zucchini cakes will all taste much better the next day if you let them sit over night before eating. make sure to cover them with plastic wrap so they do not dry out.
For some people keeping the light on while baking makes the sides of the cake darker. Experiment with your oven light on and off to see if there is a difference for your cake.
Becareful not to giggle the cake of slam the oven door too hard, it could cause your cake to collapse or sink
If you make a cake from scratch, do not over mix. The cake can come out heavier, or it could fail and have tunnels inside. A box cake mix can be beaten longer, not a scratch cake Do not let your cake sit inside the pan for too long, 10 minutes max otherwise you will have a hard time to get the cake out, there will be pieces stuck to the pan. Parchment paper can help.
With all these tips, any kind of cake you decide to make will come out wonderfully.