Okay, so there is no such thing as a perfect cake, but it’s really not that hard to come close.
Here are some tips for creating a cake that is properly baked, comes out of the pan with ease and is nearly flat on top.
Step 1: Get Your Favorite Cake Recipe
Whether it’s out of the box or from scratch, it doesn’t really matter. I love Melissa’s moist chocolate cake recipe right here. Always read the recipe first and measure out all your ingredients before starting. Things will go much easier for you and you’ll be less likely to make mistakes.
Step 2: Preheat Your Oven
Make sure you preheat the oven to the recommended temperature. Preheat for at least 15 minutes, so your oven is fully ready to go when you are.
Step 3: Get Your Pan Ready
Grease and flour a pan. If you’ve looked in the grocery or cake making store, you’ll find all kinds of fancy products and sprays that can grease up you pan, but honestly…butter and flour are easy. They’re also cheaper and more natural than chemicals in a spray can.
All you need to do is use a pastry brush spread the butter all over the pan evenly, but not too thickly. Then put in a tablespoonful or two of flour. Then shake the pan around and tap the sides to get the flour all over. When your pan is coated, you can just dump the excess flour into your waste bin.
I am now taking Wilton Cake Decorating class (Melissa took it a while ago) and we picked up one pointer that really made a difference in creating a cake with a nearly flat top. Not that we’re against cutting off the top and eating a bit of it, but we figure those extra calories sure could add to the waistline. A flat top can be achieved by using what’s called “Bake Even” strips and you’ll see the Wilton ones pictured here.
All you do is soak them in water. Then you run your fingers down the length of the strips to remove excess water. Then you place the strip around your cake and pin it in place. The strips I have are good for an 8″ cake, but if your cake is larger, you can wrap two strips around or you can buy the larger strips. According to Wilton, you don’t need to worry about overlapping of the fabric. The results will be the same.
Step 4: Prepare the Batter and Get Ready to Bake
Prepare the cake batter according to the recipe directions. Pour the batter into your greased pan and place it in the oven. Make sure it’s on the middle rack and in the center of that rack.
Step 5: Check When it’s Done
Set your timer for the minimum amount of time the recipe says. You can tell when a cake is done when you press your finger lightly on top and the cake springs back right away. If it jiggles or doesn’t spring back, it’s not ready. You can also insert a toothpick. If it comes out clean, your cake is likely done.
Step 6: Cool Your Cake
Always cool your cake completely before preparing to ice it or your icing will melt. If the recipe indicates, you can cool the cake in the pan. However, usually cakes are cooled on a metal rack.
To get your cake out of your pan, run a butter nice gently around the edges of the cake to loosen the cake. Then place your rack on top of the cake (you can put wax paper between your cake and the rack if you want to limit ridges) and then flip everything over. Gently lift the pan off the cake and allow the cake to cool on the rack.
And there you have your perfect cake! It’s ready for frosting, filling and decorating as you wish.