Bake a Cake
There's nothing like the taste of a cake you made in your own kitchen. Baking a cake is as simple as measuring ingredients, mixing them in the right order, and remembering to take the cake out of the oven before it burns. Read on to learn how to bake three basic cakes: chocolate cake, apple cake, and vanilla pound cake. Scroll to the bottom for tips on how to follow a cake recipe.
Making Vanilla Pound Cake
- Gather your ingredients. Pound cake is one of the simplest cakes to bake. Here's what you'll need:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 eggs
- 2 cups cake flour
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Grease a cake pan. Pound cakes are best baked in deep pans, such as loaf pans or bundt pans.
- Cream the butter and sugar. Place the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat them together until the mixture is light, fluffy and creamy.
- Add the eggs and vanilla. Keep beating the mixture until the eggs are completely incorporated.
- Stir in the cake flour. Keep the hand mixer on low or use a wooden spoon to stir the flour in a bit at a time until it's just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix it.
- Pour the batter into the pan. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Bake the cake for an hour and 15 minutes. The cake is finished when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Making Chocolate Cake
- Gather your ingredients.
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup buttermilk or sour cream
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease your cake pan. You can use a round standard cake pan, a square baking dish, a loaf pan, a bundt cake pan, or whatever you have on hand. Make sure to grease it well with butter or cooking spray so the cake won't stick to the pan when it's baked.
- Mix the wet ingredients in a large bowl. Place the butter, eggs, vanilla extract, sugar, and buttermilk in a bowl. Use a whisk or a hand mixer to blend the ingredients well.
- The "wet ingredients" in cake recipes are generally those that have moisture. Sugar is often listed as a wet ingredient, too, even though it isn't actually wet.
- The wet ingredients are usually mixed first in a large bowl. The dry ingredients are mixed separately and added later.
- It's important to follow instructions regarding the texture of the butter in cake recipes. If you use melted butter where softened butter is called for, the cake could come out ruined. In this case the recipe calls for room temperature butter. You can plan ahead by setting the butter out while you get the rest of the ingredients ready, so it has time to come to room temperature.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Place the flour, salt, cocoa powder, and baking powder in a small bowl. Stir them together until they are well incorporated.
- Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Beat the mixture on low until the batter comes together and no white bits of flour remain.
- Pour the batter into the cake pan. Use a spoon or spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl so every bit of batter makes it into the pan.
- Put the pan in the oven and bake the cake for 30 minutes. Check the cake's progress every so often to make sure it doesn't burn. The cake is ready when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, rather than coated with batter.
- Take the cake from the oven and let it cool. Set it on the counter and let it cool for about 5 minutes before handling it.
- Invert the cake onto a plate. Use whatever plate you're planning on using to serve the cake.
- Let the cake cool completely before frosting. If you try to add frosting to the cake while it's still warm, the frosting will melt and run off the sides. Make some chocolate buttercream frosting or plain buttercream frosting, or any other kind of frosting.
Making Apple Cake
- Gather your ingredients. Here's what you'll need for apple cake:
- 3/4 cup flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 apples
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease your cake pan. For this recipe you can use a standard cake pan or a springform pan, which has removable sides and is nice if you're serving the cake at a party.
- Melt the butter and allow it to cool. It should come to room temperature before you incorporate it with the other ingredients.
- Stir the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Place the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl and whisk them together.
- Prepare the apples. Use a knife or a vegetable peeler to peel the apples, then remove their cores. Slice the apples into bite-sized chunks.
- Blend the wet ingredients. Mix together the sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla.
- Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Stir until the batter is smooth and creamy.
- Fold in the apples. Use a spatula to gently incorporate the apples into the batter. Don't over mix the batter, since this will lead to a dense, stiff cake.
- Pour the batter into the pan. Use the spatula to smooth the top of the batter so it's even.
- Bake the cake for about 50 minutes. It's ready when the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
- Serve the cake with whipped cream.
Following Cake Recipes
- Start by reading the ingredient list and directions before you begin. It's important to have every ingredient you need ready to go. You don't want to be running to the grocery store during preparation. The final product can flop if a key ingredient is left out.
- Prepare your cake pans. Be sure to have the correct size or shape of the pan. Make a Strawberry Bundt Cake require bundt pans, while others can be baked in a variety of sizes. Grease pans to avoid sticking. Use about a half of tablespoon of butter or vegetable shortening on a paper towel and rub the inside of the pan. Sprinkle about a tablespoon or two of flour on top. Flour the pans on the sides to help the cake adhere to the sides as it bakes. This will ensure that the top is flatter, which is important for layered cakes. Shake and dump out any excess flour and set the pans to the side.
- Preheat the oven to the required temperature from the recipe.
- Measure ingredients as accurately as possible and add them in the order specified. Most cake recipes begin combining dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, cocoa, etc.), then adding wet ingredients (eggs, oil, and milk). Be sure to take special prerequisites such as sifting, whisking or beating, and packing before adding to the main bowl.
- Mix the cake batter as specified on the recipe. Some recipes can be mixed with a stand or hand mixer. Be cautious as steps can instruct to fold in flour or other ingredients with a rubber spatula. While mixing, stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula or spoon to ensure that everything is mixed thoroughly.
- Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Fill the pans 2/3 of the way full, as the cake will rise during baking. Gently tap the cake pan on the counter top to release any large air bubbles in the batter.
- Place the pans on the center rack of the preheated oven. Do not allow pans to touch each other or the oven wall.
- Close the oven door and immediately set a timer to the specified baking time. If there's a time range, use the median or middle number (bake it for 35 minutes for a range of 34 to 36 minutes or 53 minutes for a range of 50 to 55 minutes). Using the median will ensure that the cake won't under or overcook. Resist the urge to open the oven door during baking, as the heat will escape and may cause the cake to cook unevenly. If applicable, turn the oven light on and view through the oven window.
- Check for cake doneness. Gently insert a toothpick or wooden skewer in the center of the cake. If it comes out clean or with a few small crumbs on it, the cake is done. If not, place it back in the oven for another 3-4 minutes. Keep testing for the same amount of time until you get the correct result.
- Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 to 30 minutes. Run a butter knife around the pan edges to loosen the sides. Place the wire rack over the top of the pan, invert it, and tap it lightly to remove the cake.
- Let it cool completely before decorating since the heat will melt frosting and icing. Frost and Decorate a Stunning Cake as desired.
Troubleshooting Problems: Trying to Fix Your Cake
- My cake turned out flat... Be sure you have added the baking powder into the batter, baking powder is a cake's agent to rising. Make sure your baking tin is the perfect size, tins that are too big cause the cake not to fluff up. Also, make sure you don't over-mix the batter. Mixing too much beats out the batter too much and prevents it from rising. Once the ingredients are mixed stop mixing.
- My cake is too dry... Next time, check how much flour you add to the mix. The wet ingredients might soak in the flour when you add too much flour, making your cake taste dry. Your cake can also be dry if you don't add enough butter or eggs in the mixture as well. Don't forget to double check your oven temperature as well, baking too long causes a cake to dry out since the heat sucks up all cake ingredients.
- My cake turned out greasy... Insure you added the right amount butter, too much causes cakes to be greasy. Another tip would be blend the butter well, butter clumps in your cake turn out to be very greasy and disgusting.
- My cake keeps falling apart... Remember to have the cake cool before you start slicing up. If it's still falling part, try mixing icing or frosting together with the cake so it can stick like glue. In the future, trying adding water in the batter. Adding walnuts can also help the cake to hold together.
- My cake is raw... You might of taken the cake out too soon. Place the cake back in the oven. Poke a toothpick to check if the cake is ready If the edges are browning but the middle is raw, cover the edges with foil. In the future, check to be sure you are preheating your oven correctly, or have the cake bake an extra 5 minutes in the oven. All ovens are different so baking is not always exact.
- My cake is burnt... Be sure you baked your cake for the time prescribed up top. If you did, you might need to check your oven's thermometer accuracy and usage to see if it is right. Another tip: Dark colored pans usually cause cakes to brown faster so try using pans that are light in color.
- Make it vegan: substitute vegetable oil for butter. Substitute aquafaba or applesauce for eggs. 1/4 cup applesauce = one egg.
- When recipes calls for cold ingredients such as butter or cream cheese to be at room temperature, unwrap the item and leave it in a bowl on the counter for a few hours to soften. You can test the softness by poking a fork in it.
- If there is salt in the recipe, be very careful. A quarter of a teaspoon extra salt can make it more salty than it should be.
- If you're using a different recipe, follow the directions you find in it.
- Do not ice the cake before it cools. This will cause the frosting to run to the sides or slide off the cake.
- If you attempt to remove a hot cake from the pan, it may crack and fall apart.
- Double check your measurements before adding them to mixing bowls. A few tablespoons of missing or extra flour can have dramatic and undesired effects on the finished cake.
- Use high quality, heavy duty aluminum baking pans for even heating and best results.
- If you like moist cakes, substitute the oil for yogurt.
- Don't over mix the batter.
- Use a tooth pick to see if its fully cooked.
- Oven temperatures vary, so keep a close eye on your cake to make sure it doesn't over-bake.
- Be sure to keep small children and pets out of the way when opening a hot oven.
- Always wear oven mitts or protective gloves when retrieving the cake from the oven to avoid burning.
Things You'll Need
- Measuring implements
- Baking pans
- Toothpick (or wooden skewer)
- Butter knife
- Oven mitts or protective gloves
- Cooling rack
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