Few things are more challenging than baking a cake. Even the most basic chocolate cake recipe can turn into a disaster if you add too little or too much of an ingredient. Use these proven methods to make a cake extra moist and fluffy.
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Simple tricks, such as using real butter instead of margarine and adding coconut flour to the mix, will ensure that you get a delicious, moist cake. Everything matters, from the ingredients you use to the actual baking process.
Avoid These Cake Baking Mistakes
First things first, make sure you know what it takes to make a perfect cake. Common mistakes, such as checking on your cake in the oven, using the wrong baking sheet and adding cold ingredients to the mix, can ruin hours of hard work. Your cake might dry out, look strange or taste funny.
For example, cakes can get dry when baked for too long. If you don't grease and flour the pan, your cake might break apart when you remove it. Refrain from opening the oven door when baking as it may cause the cake the collapse due to the fluctuations in temperature.
The Vegan Society advises against changing a recipe without understanding the role of each ingredient. For example, if you're on a diet, you may want to remove the butter or the oil to cut calories. Butter and some types of margarine are high in saturated fat, leading to a higher risk of heart disease, warns Harvard Health.
These fatty ingredients, though, have their role. Without them, your cake may lose its moisture and dry out. Replace them with ingredients that have a similar chemistry, such as applesauce or banana.
Chefsville, a cooking school in the Dallas, points out a common baking mistake: using ingredients that are too hot or too cold. Every ingredient, whether milk, water or eggs, should be at room temperature. Remove ingredients from the fridge about 60 minutes (or longer if necessary) before you start cooking. If you're short on time, microwave the milk for 20 seconds or so and place the eggs in warm water.
Also, read the recipe and any additional notes thoroughly. One cup of sliced bananas, for example, is different from a cup of mashed bananas. Remember, it's all in the details.
Another common baking mistake is using the wrong measurements for the cake ingredients, notes Chefsville. Flour, sugar and other dry ingredients, for instance, require standard, individual, measuring cups. Liquid ingredients, such as milk, water, fruit juice and melted chocolate, require a spouted measuring cup, such as Pyrex glass.
Beware of the differences between regular white flour and almond, coconut or flaxseed flour. Each type has a different chemistry and will produce a different outcome.
For example, if a chocolate cake recipe calls for two cups of all-purpose flour, you shouldn't use two cups of almond flour, instead. King Arthur Flour recommends substituting almond flour for one-quarter of the flour in cake, cookie, muffin and biscuit recipes.
Make a Cake More Moist
The above mistakes can dry out your cake and affect its flavor. The good news is, there are a couple of things you can do to ensure that the end result will be perfect.
There's a reason why most cake recipes call for butter, avocado, oil and other high-fat foods. These not only enhance the flavor but also provide moisture for the cake, according to a November 2018 review published in the journal Foods. The same goes for sugar, which keeps your cake moist by absorbing water, milk and other liquids.
King Arthur Flour notes that almond flour has a similar effect. Due to its high fat content, it can make a cake more moist. If you're not a fan of almond flour, use coconut flour or flaxseed meal instead. Beware, though, that you'll have to mix these flours with regular flour.
Coconut flour, for example, provides 400 calories, 13.3 grams of fat, 20 grams of protein and 60 grams of carbs, including 46.7 grams of fiber, per serving. If you subtract fiber from carbohydrates, you'll get fewer than 15 grams of carbs per 100 grams. This makes coconut flour ideal for ketogenic and low-carb diets.
All purpose flour, by comparison, has 367 calories, 10 grams of protein and 76.6 grams of carbs, including 3.3 grams of fiber per 100 grams, according to the USDA database.
The International Food Information Council Foundation recommends using coconut flour to substitute 20 to 30 percent of all purpose flour in cake recipes. You can also use it in bread, cookies, waffles, pancakes and most baked goods. It's a lot healthier and nutritious than regular white flour.
Another option is to use cake flour, suggests Sharon Zambito, owner of SugarEd Productions Online School. Compared to all purpose flour, this ingredient is lighter and contains corn starch.
Zambito also recommends using real butter in recipes that call for margarine. Butter is higher in fat, so it will moisten your cake. Furthermore, you can replace some of the butter in your recipe with oil to reduce gluten production and achieve better results. Buttermilk, which is highly acidic, can be replaced with milk or mixed with a pinch of baking soda for a softer cake.
Focus on the Small Details
Everything that goes into making a cake affects its flavor, texture and consistency. Even the most delicious vanilla cake recipe can be ruined if you make a tiny mistake.
Over-mixing after you add the flour, for example, can make your cake hard, warns Zambito. She recommends adding a little bit of flour, then a bit of milk, then a bit of flour and so on. This will prevent over-mixing the batter.
If possible, try to divide the batter into two separate pans. The more batter you add to one pan, the longer it will take to cook and the higher the chances it will dry out. To put it simply, it's better to make two smaller cakes that look and taste amazing rather than a big one that's dry and hard.
Cooking Light suggests using the oven light to check things out. If you keep opening the oven door, you might end up with a flat cake.
If you make a lighter cake that requires less butter, refrain from vigorously mixing the batter. This habit promotes gluten formation, leading to a chewy consistency.
These things take time to learn, though. If you're new to baking, start with a super moist cake recipe. Make a delicious pumpkin chocolate chip Bundt cake, experiment with sponge cakes or try your hand at pound cakes. These sweet treats are typically moist and fluffy, taking the guesswork out of baking.
- Vegan Society: "Five Common Baking Mistakes and How to Avoid Them"
- Chefsville: "Baking Mistakes – Avoiding the Most Common Ones"
- King Arthur Flour: "Baking With Almond Flour"
- Foods: "Fat Replacers in Baked Food Products"
- USDA: "Coconut Flour"
- USDA: "All Purpose Flour"
- International Food Information Council Foundation: "The Scoop on Alternative Flours"
- SugarEd Productions: "Ways to Make Your Cake Fluffy and Moist"
- Cooking Light: "Common Baking Mistakes"
- Harvard.edu: "Butter vs. Margarine"