I was recently asked how I make my cakes so light and fluffy. Yowza! For bakers that is one loaded question! There are several factors that contribute to creating a cake that is airy and light in texture, and I wasn't sure how to condense the answer in order to prevent an hour long monologue.
Alright so i've decided to share what I believe to be the most commonly skipped step that makes a world of a difference when it comes to cake texture. I want to start off by mentioning that baking is science. Unfortunately, the only way to truly get the results that you want is to experiment. Luckily there are a plethora of options and recipes at our fingertips now a days, but I still encourage you to experiment with the recipes, make adjustments to your liking of taste and texture and have fun!
I prefer my white cakes to be light and airy vs dense and moist (Nothing wrong with this type of cake) and have my go to recipe that works perfectly. This recipe also has a secret ingredient......wait for it.......whipped cream! Yup, thats right. Whip up that cream and fold it into the cake batter as your last step, You can thank me later :)
I am going to KIS (no, I didn't misspell KISS). But KIS- KEEP IT SIMPLE, for you all.
CREAMING the Butter and Sugar based on the recipe directions. If the recipe says to cream for 5 minutes on medium speed, or until light and fluffy.....DO IT! I seriously used to speed up this step by mixing on high for a few minutes and called it good. But don't- you are missing a crucial step that can't be reversed or made up for in another step of cake making. And simply put, here is why:
Creaming the softened butter and sugar creates air pockets in the mixture. The sugar aerates the butter and creates bubbles that allow for expansion of the cake (due to the work of your leavener) when baking.
Thats it! If you want more detail regarding what the mixture texture and color should look like, check out the detailed explanation from King Arthur Flour
If the recipe doesn't specify, then what do I do? I cream for 3-5 minutes on medium speed until the color changes from yellow to a palish yellow, almost white. It should be a light texture, not grainy. Another important component, ROOM TEMP BUTTER. Let it sit out for at least 2 hours before you begin.
I hope this helps you the next time you tackle cake making! Leave a comment and let me know if this tip was helpful. Any other tips your dying to know when it comes to baking??
Everything you have heard about making homemade croissants is most likely true. Yup, it has lots of butter and yes, they are time consuming and a tid bit difficult to make. So let me start by saying- strive for improvement each time, not perfection.
On my baking journey, I am striving to teach myself at home how to make some of the most challenging pastries (even for professional pastry chefs). In fact, French Macaroons were my first endeavor almost two years ago. It took ALOT of patience, trial and error, time and well, almond flour. But after I finally made the perfect batch and shared with family to see their reaction, I was reminded that it was all worth it.
And so, on to my next challenge. These melt in your mouth puff pastries known as the Croissant! I must say, it was the first time in a while that I truly felt challenged. These require time, a lot of folding of the dough, the right eye and touch for the temperature of the dough, the perfect rolling of the dough and you have to work fast!
These are some of the tips and tricks I learned from The Art and Soul of Baking by Sur La Table and Cindy Mushet.. Hopefully this will help you at home to bake croissants with some ease and success!
Flour- it seems to make the most sense to use pastry flour because croissants are a 'pastry'. However, they require more gluten formation than other pastries. All-Purpose Flour or Bread Flour are higher in protein than pastry flour and when combined with liquid, gluten is formed.
You may also use a combination of bread flour with cake flour. Bread flour will have the highest amount of protein, while cake flour has more protein than pastry flour but less than All-purpose flour. Make sense?
Make sure to brush off any excess flour when folding the dough. You don't want unnecessary gluten to form and create a tougher dough than desired.
COLD Butter - the butter must always be cold. If after rolling the dough, it becomes soft (because it has become too warm) stop there and place it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or until cold again.
The butter block simply put…..is a block of cold butter. No need to add additional flour to the butter block. The easiest technique to produce cold but flexible butter, needed in order to fold in with the dough block is to wrap the COLD (this is critical) butter block loosely in plastic wrap. Now for the fun part! Use a rolling pin to beat the butter until it is malleable. it will have a somewhat flat and even surface.
Folds- its super easy to lose track of how many folds you have done. Keep track! Too many folds will prevent the layers from rising (therefore, it will not bake those beautifully layered crust).
Make sure to line up the edges and square off the corners when folding the dough. This will give you more perfectly even layers with the butter generating a more perfectly flaky and high rise when baked.
Make Dough Ahead of Time- you can make the dough, incorporate the butter block, and folds then refrigerate for up to 24 hours before using the dough. You can also freeze the dough for up to 2 months. For the longest preservation in the freezer- wrap 1-2 times in plastic wrap and add to a freezer bag. Or take it one step further and precut the dough to make baking that much easier.
Importance of Temperature- the temperature in the room will affect the time it takes for the dough to rise. Its a hot summer day but you have the A/C cranking? Your kitchen is most likely at an optimal temperature (65-70 degrees) to allow the dough to rise. A hot summer day and no A/C? Probably not a good idea, place in the refrigerator and wait for it to cool down.
Chill Dough Before Baking- remember, cold butter! This will produce the best rise AND give you that flakiness you worked so hard to create.
Make it Your Own- the most traditional fillings are chocolate and ham and cheese. But be creative and make your own variation!
Showcased here is a Chocolate Stout Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting. I used a the Black Out Cake recipe from the cookbook Ovenly. A few things on the cake: its not your typical chocolate cake. It has a deep chocolate bitterness from the Onyx or Black Cocoa combined with Stout Beer….it almost resembles the taste of an Oreo cookie.
BUT for the sake of this post- I will comment more on the differences between Black Cocoa and Unsweetened Cocoa when I start my new series called on "Tips and Tricks to Becoming a Professional Baker at Home' so check in later to find out everything you will need to know in order to impress your family and friends with the best baked goods made from your own home. From the proper tools to use in the kitchen, the importance of creaming butter and sugar, to checking your oven temperature and measuring ingredients properly.
WARNING: Lots of photos in this post! I wanted to make sure you have a step by step guide with properly piping the frosting, layering the cake, and making it beautiful :)
I used two 6" round pans. The recipe yields two 9" pans but I prefer baking smaller size cakes. This eliminates some major potential pitfalls when baking the perfect cake from home. Plus I just love the size and ease of decorating a smaller stacked cake. I used the leftover batter to make cupcakes!
Step 1- Have all of your tools out and ready for use. This includes all four layers of the cake for assembling.
Offset Spatula (or a regular spatula will work)
Cardboard Cake Rounds
Step 2- Precut your two 6" round cakes in half (creating a total of FOUR even layers of cake). Place each layer on a sheet of parchment paper.
Step 3- Have your buttercream made and placed into a pasty bag. Cut about 1/2 inch off the tip of the bag.
Step 4- Using your spatula, spread a small layer of buttercream on the bottom cardboard. Choose the flattest side of one layer of your cake and place on top of the frosted cake cardboard. This is going to be the base for the entire cake, so choose wisely. The buttercream will allow the cake to stick to the cardboard and not slide off once you are transporting!
Step 5- Create a thick outer frosting barrier. Think of this as a tall frosting wall that will keep the filling from oozing out as you place each layer of cake on top. Simply pipe a thick lining wall along the outer edge of the cake.
Step 6- Pipe a dollop of frosting in the center and began to spiral the piping bag to fill the cake with frosting.
Step 7- Add your next cake layer and gently press down to make sure its firmly placed.
Step 8- Continue this method of frosting for each layer of cake. You can add or omit layers of cake depending on your desired height and size of the cake. I decided to use all four layers but it would have looked just as beautiful with only two or three as well.
**Place the cake in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or if you need to speed up the process (like I usually need to) place the cake directly in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Just enough to allow the frosting to set. This will make the cake more sturdy for frosting the outside.
Step 9- Transfer the cake out of the refrigerator (or freezer) and add a generous amount of frosting on top of the cake. You will need more than you anticipate (and the more the better!) so slather it on. You are preparing to push the frosting over the edges of the cake, to spread around the sides. The thicker the layer is, the less likely you will encounter crumbs coming through as you frost. Some people don't mind the crumbs, and I personally think the crumb frosting layer is very IN right now :)
If you do encounter any crumbs, simply use the spatula to wipe the frosting off and scrape the excess frosting onto the side of a clean bowl. Its important to wipe clean the spatula every couple of swipes.
Some would suggest a rotating cake stand. While it does make frosting a cake much easier, I personally don't feel that its necessary for a smaller cake. It all depends on the final look you are going for. Do you want a perfectly clean frosted cake or with soft edges? I prefer mine to look….well, not so perfect. Because thats just not fun, nor is it my personality. Not a type A person over here.
Step 10- And for the finishing touches- this is when you get to be creative and have fun! I had some light and dark chocolate shavings and decided to throw a mixture on the top of the cake only.
Fall is here and I have officially become addicted to the savory, beautifully flaky, butter crusted custard pie we know as quiche. I'm typically all about baking something on the sweeter side, but I decided to give my first pie crust a try and incorporated leftovers from the week to turn it into a savory quiche that is perfect for breakfast, lunch or even dinner.
Quiche is traditionally (per the French) one part egg to two parts milk in a pie crust. I wanted to create a slightly healthier alternative and settled on 4 eggs to 1 cup of coconut milk and 1/4 cup of cream. Too many eggs can cause the quiche to become rubbery, but that is a risk I was willing to take. Personally I believe quiche recipes can be altered to any ratio and filling ingredients that your heart desires. The more cream, milk and cheese….well, the more delicious.
A quiche is NOT a quiche without the pie crust. It doesn't all of a sudden become a 'healthier crustless quiche' it becomes a frittata. Take the extra 10 minutes to make your own pastry. Its what makes a quiche a quiche.
I tried the 'Basic Short-Crust Pastry' by David Tanis-NY Times recipe. This will create a
9 and 1/2 inch tart crust.
What You Need:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 t kosher salt
1 stick of cold butter (1/2 cup)
3 T ice water
1) Combine flour and salt in a food processor. Add butter (divide into 6-8 small pieces) and pulse food processor. This only takes about 30 seconds. The texture should be grainy and not well combined.
2) Add ice water and mix for another 30 seconds, until a soft dough is formed.
3) Wrap dough in plastic for at least 2-3 hours. I chilled my dough overnight. You can make the dough several days ahead of time.
4) allow the chilled dough to soften before rolling. I used parchmant paper to roll the dough. Lightly flour the dough and parchment paper to prevent sticking.
5) Roll the dough about 3 inches wider than the tart pan. An easy way to gauge the correct size is to place the tart pan on top of your dough. Then cut the dough with an extra 2 inches. This will allow you overhang when placing into the tart pan.
6) Place the pastry dough into the tart pan, making sure that the extra 2 inches are drapping over the edge.
7) Take your rolling pin and roll over the edges of the pan. The excess dough will fall right off. Place in the refrigerator and turn the oven on to 375 degrees.
8) You can use pie weights (I used a fork to poke several holes into the bottom dough to prevent bubbles from forming) and bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Make sure to keep an eye on the dough while baking. If the dough bubbles or the edges lift, simply use a wooden spoon to push down while in the oven.
Now onto the Quiche filling. I referenced 'How to Make a Fool-Proof Quiche' on the Kitchn
and modified the recipe.
What You Need:
1 cup coconut milk (unsweetened)
1/4 cup of cream
1/2 cup cheese (Any kind, I used an aged white chedder)
1 t of kosher salt
1/2 cup of filling ingredients. I had leftover italian sausage and caramelized onions that worked perfectly!
1) Spread cheese in the cooled pie crust, followed by the sausage and caramelized onion
2) Combine the eggs, coconut milk, and cream. Whisk for 3-5 minutes or until frothy.
3) Pour the custard into the pie crust, covering the fillings. Spread remaining cheese on top.
4) Bake quiche at 350-375 degrees for 30-40 minutes
5) Allow to cool completely and then enjoy!
Hello! I'm Candice and I love baking. This blog is dedicated to all things sweet, exploring your passion, staying inspired and encouraging you to Eat More Cake!