When Baking, Its the Little Things That Matter

As it gets closer to the holidays, more baking happens. This past weekend, I was baking some cakes. The cake is going to become a gift for someone and I wanted to make a test batch. Well, mostly I just wanted some cake. Anyway, I have baked more than just cakes in the last month. Each time I baked something I learned a little new thing that improved my next attempt. Overall I learned that it is the little bits that matter.

So I first baked this cake back in October. While it tasted correct, the texture resembled a bit more like a brownie. It was denser than it should have been. Now, there were two possibilities as to why. Either my baking soda was not nearly as good as I thought it was or I had smushed everything down when I put the batter into the pans. Now when I say that I smushed, I mean that I scooped the batter into the pans and then proceeded to press the batter into the bottom of the pan. Yeah, that made it difficult to get the cakes out later. I should mention that the batter for this cake is very thick and includes whole chocolate chips. So when that attempt occurred, it took a while to get them out of the pan and they were denser than they should have. I was alerted afterwards that the better technique was to tap the bottom of the pan to get the batter to flatten out.

So the next time I baked, I made pumpkin bread. I used a family recipe that I have never seen made or tasted. It was just a recipe card so I had no experience with it or pumpkin bread in general actually. This time I tried the tapping job and the pumpkin breads came out perfect from the pans. However, I have since decided that any recipe that calls for the equivalent of 2 cups of sugar for a single 9 by 5 inch loaf pan is a cake, not bread. For my non-US readers, that is about 400 grams of sugar for about a 23 by 13 by 6 cm pan (according to Google). Since the tapping worked so well this time, I decided that I would try it again next time.

The third time I baked was the test run for the cake. I wanted to try out the tapping idea before I made the gift cake. It was probably for the best that I tried the test cakes out on a different day than the gift cake. Most of the ingredients I only had enough for either the test cakes or the gift cakes. So I ended up buying more ingredients. As it turned out, the test cakes taught me something else important. You need to wait for it cool all the way before trying to remove the cake from its pan. Yeah, otherwise you will get pieces that stick to the pan. I wanted cake, so I was a bit impatient. Either way, it taught me something new. Onto the gift cake.

So, we are at the gift cake. I did the tapping and tried to wait until it was completely cooled. So I tried to get the cake out with a tiny bit of warmth left in the pan. It almost came out clean. The chocolate chips at the top decided to stick to the pan. Oh well. The rest of the cake looks fine. The person who is getting the cake will not care too much about the appearance of the cake. Either way, it tells me that I really need to wait until every bit of the cake is completely cool. Boo…. Yeah I can be impatient when it comes to waiting for food to be done. Regardless, I learned something new each time I baked something. Basically, it is the tiny little touches that make a big difference. Tapping the bottom and letting it cool makes baking a cake better. What little differences have you learned by reattempting a favorite dish or baked good? What kind of tips did someone else teach you? Any favorite baked goods? Do you like to give or receive them as gifts? Please answer below with your comments and thanks for reading.

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