Baking and decorating is an important part in preparing a good cake.
Most of the specially made cakes do not usually fit on a plate or tray, in such cases a cake board would be of a great use. You would just need to cut a piece of stiff card-board and cover it with foil or heavy coated wrapping paper.
The paper used to cover the card-board can be of various different colors to match the color of the cake, which in-turn would give a more presentable look to the cake.
Best suggested to use are metal pans with a non-stick finish, grease and flour pans before use. Apply a thin layer of vegetable shortening on the inner walls of the pan, it works better than butter.
Testing for Doneness
Follow the complete baking instructions for time and temperature specified in the recipe. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The cake should have pulled away from the sides of the pan and the top will spring back when touched lightly in the center.
Removing Cake from Pan
Let cake cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Invert wire cooling rack over cake and flip over. Shake gently until cake releases from pan. Place a second wire rack over the bottom of the cake and flip over again so cake can cool right side up.
Preparing Cake for Frosting
Slip each cake layer into a gallon-size freezer bag and place in the freezer for 30-45 minutes. Poke two tooth-picks into the top of each layer to keep the plastic wrap from sticking to the cake's surface.
Best Base Frosting Recipe
The thin texture of the base frosting allows easier
coverage without pulling bits of cake and crumbs away from the cake. This is essential particularly if you are frosting white over chocolate cake.
3 Cups of powdered sugar
1/2 Cup butter
1/4 Cup milk & 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
Combine and beat powdered sugar, butter, milk and vanilla in a large bowl. Add milk 1 tsp. at a time to desired consistency. Frosting should be fairly thin. This is a great base frosting.
Cutting and Trimming
Cakes can be cut into various shapes depending on the people. For better results, measure and mark the cutting line with tooth picks or wooden skewers. Use a sharp knife to cut. Use a long sharp knife to trim the top surface of the cake to form a flat surface.
Homemade Frosting - Be sure to plan ahead how much of each color will be needed for both basic foundation and decorative trim.
Canned and Tube Frostings - Easiest and quickest, prepared canned frostings are available in grocery stores in the baking aisle with the cake mixes. They generally come in white, chocolate, and a handful of other popular flavors. Keep a few ready-to-use tube frostings on hand in various basic colors to add the finishing touches.
Fondant Frosting - Gaining in popularity in this country in recent years, fondant frosting gives a beautiful smooth finish to your cake. Fondant can be rolled out and draped over a cake, poured on as a glaze, or sculpted into shapes. It is easily tinted, and can be flavored as well. Ready-made fondant is available through party supply outlets.
Cake Decorating with Candy and Small Toys
Cookies, candies, and other materials can be used for special and impressive effects. Using frosted sugar cones can serve as the fins on a space ship cake and make a surprise cake filling with Jelly. Various kinds of candies and cookies can be used to delight children and they are best used in childrens birthday party cakes.
Temperature & Cookware
If your oven temperature is questionable, invest in an oven thermometer. Some ovens can be off by as much as 75X. Before mixing the batter, prepare the pans, turn the oven on, and make sure the rack is in the center. Shiny pans reflect the heat, and are your best choice for cake baking. Reduce the oven temperature by 25X when using glass pans. Substitute 8-inch square pans for round if you want, or use 2 to 3 8 X 4-inch loaf pans. The baking time will be less, so begin checking about 15 minutes before the time suggested. Have all ingredients at room temperature for best results. Grease pans with about 1 tablespoon of fat per layer pan. Use cocoa (or carob powder) instead of flour for dusting a greased pan when making a chocolate cake.
Ingredients & Techniques
When measuring flour, fluff it in the bag then spoon into the measuring cup; level off with a knife. To "lighten" a hard wheat flour, spoon 2 to 4 tablespoons of cornstarch into a 1-cup dry measure, then sprinkle the flour in until full and scrape off the excess with the back side of a knife. For better texture, try substituting buttermilk for regular milk in your cake recipe. For each cup of buttermilk used, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to the dry ingredients. Beat butter and sugar for as long as the recipe directs. To make a lighter cake, separate the eggs first. Add the yolks to the butter mixture beat the egg whites then fold into the batter. In general, use 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder for every cup of flour in cake batters. To speed up the softening of cold butter, grate or thinly slice it and let stand for about 10 minutes over a bowl of warm water. Toss nuts, raisins and chopped fruits in flour first. This will help keep them suspended in batters. To split layer cakes loop a long strand of unflavored dental floss around the center of the cake horizontally. Cross the ends and slowly and firmly pull on each end to cut cleanly through the cake. Cool the cake thoroughly before frosting. To moisten confectioners' sugar frostings, use other liquids in place of milk. Melted jelly, fruit juices, coffee, peanut butter (with a little milk), honey, or maple syrup are just a few alternatives. Make chocolate whipped cream by combining 2 tablespoons each unsweetened cocoa powder and confectioners' sugar in a mixing bowl. Gradually stir in 1 cup whipping cream, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before beating.