Make sure you have the proper shape and size cake pan for your recipe. Some cakes can be baked in a variety of pans while others need a specific pan. Bundt cakes need a Bundt pan, cheesecakes need a springform pan, sheet cakes need a sheet cake pan and so on. If you need a cake pan, Kitchen Kapers has a large selection to choose from - just visit our Cake Pan page.
Always preheat the oven before you get started mixing the ingredients. Give it a good 20 minutes to preheat. This is also a good time to make sure the oven racks are in the right position before they get hot.
Once you have the oven set to the proper temperature and the proper cake pan for your recipe, it’s time to grease the pan to prevent the cake from sticking.
Gather all of your ingredients before you start. Then get out your measuring cups and spoons. Be accurate! There isn't room for experimenting when you bake. If, say, a recipe calls for sifted flour, it's important that you don't skip that step. Recipes must be followed exactly for best results.
Add the ingredients as instructed and mix them. Most cakes benefit from using an electric mixer as they incorporate more air into the cake batter which produces a lighter cake texture than mixing with a spoon. You can use an electric hand-held mixer or a stand mixer. Incorporate all of the ingredients well, taking care to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as you go along.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared (greased and floured) cake pans. Fold a kitchen towel in half and place it on the counter. Then gently tap the cake pan onto the covered counter surface a few times. This step helps remove any trapped air bubbles within the cake batter.
Place the cake pan in the center of the preheated oven. If you are using two cake pans, make sure they are not touching and air can flow around them to ensure even baking. Set the timer per the recipe and don't open the oven until the timer goes off. If the recipe gives you a range, say 40-45 minutes, set the timer to 40 minutes and check the cake for doneness when the timer goes off. Remove the cake from the oven. Insert a clean toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out wet, put the cake back in the oven and set the timer for another five minutes and check again. When the toothpick comes out clean, or with a few small dry crumbs, the cake is baked.
When the cake is done, turn off the oven, take the cake pan out and place it right side up on a wire cooling rack. Set the timer for ten minutes. When the timer goes off, run a clean butter knife around the edges (sides) of the pan to loosen the sides of the cake. Then place the cooling rack on top and turn the pan over. Tap the bottom of the cake pan gently a few times and the cake should release without sticking. Let the cake cool completely, then frost and decorate.
Beginners Tip: Sprinkle the cooled cake with confectioner's sugar instead of frosting. You can use a duster or a small fine sieve. It's quick, easy and looks terrific, especially on Bundt cakes.