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Made with love: how to bake your own cake for Mother's Day

If bakers adhere to these golden rules of baking, will not only rise the cake but also mom's heart as well.

"Bake a cake, bake a cake, the baker has called" - cakes are the centerpiece of every celebration and when they are homemade, the joy is all the greater. For many amateur bakers, baking cakes is much more than just preparing a dessert. Whether with different flavors or food colors in the batter or in the cream or with an elaborate decoration on the cake made of fondant or marzipan – baking fans can let their creativity run wild here.

But as much fun as it is to make the cake, the disappointment is just as great when it doesn't turn out as planned. Because, although cake baking is an expression of your own creativity, there are several little things to bear in mind. When baking cakes, there are some common mistakes that should be avoided in order to achieve the best results. Falstaff has summarized the golden dont's of the cake world and also shares tips and tricks for decorating the cake.

The five dont's of baking

Altering the ingredients or the recommended quantity

The fallacy that good cooking skills can be transferred 1:1 to baking still persists – and wrongly so. Because you should never forget: Cooking is not baking. Baking is known to be a science, and that's where the problems begin. Chemical reactions that require precise quantities often play a decisive role in baking. It is therefore advisable not to measure the ingredients by eye, but to follow the instructions in the recipe exactly. Even a slight deviation can affect the texture of the cake and spoil the result.

The same applies to deviations or substitutions of ingredients. A small change here can lead to a completely different result. For example, frozen fruit in the batter can cause it to release more moisture and prevent the cake from rising properly. Again, freeze-dried fruit pieces are a suitable alternative.

One step at a time

Recipes are always written in a certain order and for good reason – or several good reasons. Explained briefly and simply: some ingredients need to be mixed together in a certain combination so that they can "bind" properly, and the ingredients are easier to mix together if they are combined step by step. It is also necessary to read the recipe properly rather than skimming through it quickly because time is short.

Too much or too little?

Does the cake rise too much or barely noticeably in the oven? This problem is not unknown either. Many amateur bakers resort to aids such as a so-called "baking belt" to solve this dilemma. In theory, this distributes the heat in the oven evenly in the cake tin and in the batter, but it does not prevent the "puff" that forms when the cake bakes. Depending on the type of mixture and the kitchen aid, either too much or too little stirring is the reason why the cake does not rise, or rises to much.

The oven door should remain closed during baking.
© Andrii A/ Shutterstock
The oven door should remain closed during baking.

Impatience is punished

In most cases, a preheated oven is required, but this is not just about a hot oven, but above all about the right temperature. Every oven needs its time and therefore requires a certain lead time until it has reached the optimum temperature – but be careful: depending on the mixture, the dough may still need to rest before it bakes in the oven.

One of the biggest no-go's when baking cakes is opening the oven door while the cake is being baked. According to the rule of thumb, the oven door should remain closed, especially during the first third of the baking time – even if the pastry smells too good or your curiosity is too great. In the worst case, the cake can collapse and all the work will have been for nothing.

The dimensions do not fit

Just like reading through the recipe or preheating the oven, it is just as important to stick to the baking tin recommended in the recipe. If you decide to use a different one, the amount of dough or the specified baking time is often no longer suitable.

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The five do's when decorating

Once the potential chaos in the kitchen has been eliminated and the cake has been successfully baked, it's time to decorate the masterpiece.

Get in shape

Before you can start decorating, it is often advisable to shape the cake after it has cooled. This means that the cake base should be straightened with a serrated knife. This makes frosting with buttercream or chocolate icing much easier. It is also easier to decorate the cake if it is covered with a layer of buttercream and then frozen for a short time. After a short break in the freezer, the cake is ready for further decorations.

The overall picture must be right

To ensure that the cake is also visually appealing, you should stick to the guiding principle of "eat with your eyes" when decorating. Decorations tailored to the occasion and the cake contribute greatly to the overall aesthetic appearance of the dessert and provide a beautiful finishing touch. Whether minimalist or pompous, you should always make sure that the cake is not "drowning" in decoration.

Not just a method

Skillful decorating often requires a well thought-out concept and, ideally, steady hands. However, should a mistake happen, amateur bakers should not panic, there is always another method or possibility to cover up a possible faux pas. The buttercream on the cake doesn't look neat? No problem – with cream rosettes or other patterns, small cosmetic mistakes can be corrected. Ready-made sugar decorations can also work wonders in the event of a small "accident".

Drip cakes can be made quickly and easily and are visually impressive.
© columbo.photog/Shutterstock
Drip cakes can be made quickly and easily and are visually impressive.

The thing with the buttercream

For many amateur bakers, buttercream is simply part of a themed cake – whether as an adhesive for a fondant or marzipan topping. But it can also become the centerpiece for the formerly hyped "naked cakes". If the cream then has an unmistakable yellowish tinge, this brings many to the brink of despair. A small amount of food coloring in a purple shade can help here. Depending on the amount of buttercream and the quality of the food colouring, this can neutralize the unsightly yellow tint. Incidentally, there are more ideas for buttercream than the American version, which consists mainly of butter and powdered sugar.

Simply convincing

Beautiful cake decorations don't always have to be elaborate to impress guests. Simple methods or motifs for the cake are often enough, it is always advisable to start small and work your way up slowly before setting yourself unrealistic goals or sticking to unachievable ideas – especially at the beginning. For example, chocolate coating or candy melts with colorful sprinkles can make a wonderful "drip cake" that quickly outshines a store-bought cake.

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Tamara Kalny
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