I Thought I'd Post A Tutorial On Making Good Scratch Cake...

Decorating By LaSombra Updated 13 Jun 2008 , 11:50pm by MichelleM77

LaSombra Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 2:44am
post #1 of 89

I've noticed that there are alot of posts around here about scratch cake and how some people never get a good scratch cake. I don't know if this will help but I thought I'd post a little tutorial on making a scratch cake the right way, step-by-step. I posted this on another, non-caker message board once and so I thought I'd paste it here as well to help those who are interested. If you have any questions or something to add to this, feel free to ask/reply. Thanks for reading icon_smile.gif

Making a scratch cake:

The recipe is not necessarily what makes a cake better. It's the techniques and quality ingredients.

If you get the hang of making scratch cakes, it really doesn't take much longer than making a box cake, especially if you prep your dry ingredients ahead of time. I like to bag up my dry ingredients in a zip-lock bag so when I need to make a cake, they're all measured out already like a mix icon_smile.gif

Ingredients:

Flour:
Use the right kind of flour for the job. If you're making cookies, AP (all purpose) flour is fine but if you are making a cake, get cake (bleached) or pastry flour.

1 Cup AP flour = 1cup + 2 Tbs cake flour

Sugar:
While it's not that big a deal, I've discovered that bakers' sugar is really nice for cake. It's finer grained and produces a finer texture for the cake. Just remember that since it's a finer texture, you'll have to take off a couple Tbs per cup when measuring because it's more compact.

Butter:

Butter is the way to go. It has so much more flavor than shortening and people will taste the difference, even if they don't know what it is.

Vanilla:
Use real vanilla. Same as the butter, people will notice it's better with the real thing.



Preparing

Get all your ingredients out ahead and group them together. It'll make it all go smoother.

Mixing

Just about all cakes are mixed by the same 4-step process: 1. Sift the dry ingredients, 2. Cream the butter/sugar, 3. Add the eggs, 4. Add the liquid/dry ingredients. You have to be a little careful in how you do it to make a perfect cake though.

1. Sift dry ingredients:

The main thing you have to remember when doing this is to make sure that you get the baking powder, soda or other leavening mixed in well throughout the flour. That way, you won't have unevenly baked cake.

If you have a flour sifter, that's the best but you should still stir up the mixture in a bowl to make sure it didn't all settle in the same spot in there. If you don't have a flour sifter, just make sure you get any lumps out of the flour

2. Cream together the sugar/butter:

This is a step that you definitely don't have in a cake mix, which calls for oil, not butter. Butter is so much better-tasting than oil! What is creaming? It is when you mix the butter and sugar together until it's nice and creamy

You will want to make sure the butter is softened but not melted.

It is important to cream the mixture a good, long time. This step is what gives cake its fine texture. It beats tiny air molecules into the butter which expand in the oven and help the cake rise. If you don't cream it enough, your cake may become heavy or uneven. *It's also important to not cream it on high speed because that will make bigger air pockets, which is undesirable.

3. Add the eggs:

You just want to make sure to add the eggs one at a time and make sure they're well-mixed after each one. I always break each egg into a separate small bowl first just in case I get a bad egg...I've seen some weird eggs and wouldn't want them in a cake

4. Add the liquid/dry ingredients:

The most important thing to remember at this point is to not over mix the cake! It will toughen your cake, which you definitely don't want.

Your liquid could be milk, water, blended strawberries or bananas, etc...

Always start by adding 1/4 of the dry ingredients and mix on low until they're just barely mixed in. Then add 1/3 of the liquid until barely mixed in. Keep alternating until the liquids/dry are mixed in...barely. Take a rubber spatula and scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl and then mix that in too. As long as the batter is smooth, you don't have to mix any more!

Pour the batter into your pans. If you're doing a layer cake, make sure you get the same amount in both pans. Hit the bottom of the pans on the countertop a couple times and put them into the oven.

Baking:


Make sure the pans as close to the very middle of the oven as possible without touching. There should be at least an inch or two between the two pans. If your oven is hotter in the back, carefully turn the cakes after about 20 minutes (It usually takes 25-40 minutes, depending on what size/type).

How to know when your cake is done baking:


There are a few indications. A cake tester is nice but a wooden toothpick is better. Stick it into the middle of the cake and if it comes out clean, it's done. Also, if the cake is starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, it's done.

If you go to check your cake's doneness and it's still wobbly in the middle and you don't even need to stick a cake tester in, add about 10 more minutes. If the tester indicates that it's not done, just add about 5 or less, depending on how much batter stuck to your toothpick. Keep a close eye on your cake at the end because over baking will make it dry.

Cooling:


Make sure you cool your cake in a cool place (not on top of the oven icon_redface.gif )

Don't take out the cake until the bottom of the pan is mostly cool...it should take around 10-15 minutes but could take longer. You should be able to touch the bottom of the cake pan without it scorching you but you want to take it out before it gets cold or it'll stick then too.

Put a cooling rack over the cake pan and flip the pan and the rack at the same time. Carefully and slowly lift the pan off the cake. Put another cooling rack over the bottom of the cake and flip it all over again so the flat side is down.

88 replies
idoweddingcookies Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 7:39am
post #2 of 89

Thank you so much for posting this - It's great thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

FromScratch Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 12:57pm
post #3 of 89

Very good info!! It's hard when you first start into scratch baking.. all of these steps you never had to worry about before.. hopefully someone will give it a go and have success.. it's such a good feeling. icon_biggrin.gif

Biya Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 12:57pm
post #4 of 89

Wow I just posted a request for this! I should have read the forums first. Thanks so much going to try a scratch cake today.

mommarivera Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 1:11pm
post #5 of 89

I will have to give this a try!! Thanks

Jessmar Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 1:12pm
post #6 of 89

This is great! Thank you so much for sharing.

Steady2Hands Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 1:15pm
post #7 of 89

Thank you ~ Thank you ~ Thank you!!
I can see my goal of making my cakes 100% from scratch becoming a reality. icon_wink.gif

klesyd Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 1:15pm
post #8 of 89

thanks. I've never made a cake from scratch before since I started decorating. I always use Pillsbury boxes. I'll have to try this one.

Gretta Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 1:23pm
post #9 of 89

I just wanted to add the importance of following the directions of adding the liquids and the dry ingredients. There is a chemical reaction (i.e. leavening agent interacting with liquid to form a gas that helps the cake rise) that takes place when more of the dry ingredient molecules get "surrounded" by the liquid. If you dump all the dry in first or vice versa, you lose that benefit. Thanks for posting these clearly written directions!

CakesByLJ Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 1:23pm
post #10 of 89

This is great....... thanks for sharing... now, where is the perfect recipe to go with it ?? <g>

mamabaer Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 1:28pm
post #11 of 89

Thanks for posting this! I have always wanted to try a scratch cake!

jmt1714 Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 1:28pm
post #12 of 89

comment re: use of cake flour. sometimes yes, and sometimes no. some of my recipes use AP flour, and some use cake flour. I think it is worth experimenting to see which you like best.

Katskakes Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 1:49pm
post #13 of 89

Thank you for sharing this with us.

peacockplace Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 2:04pm
post #14 of 89

Very well written. Thanks a bunch for your great instructions!

LaSombra Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 3:51pm
post #15 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmt1714

comment re: use of cake flour. sometimes yes, and sometimes no. some of my recipes use AP flour, and some use cake flour. I think it is worth experimenting to see which you like best.




I have converted to using all cake/pastry flour myself. I have been measuring my flour by weight exclusively lately and so just convert the recipe. You can do the same by volume. I put the conversion up there under the ingredients heading, under flour.

FromScratch Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 4:20pm
post #16 of 89

I agree.. I use cake/pastry flour for making cakes (and pastries LOL). It makes for a nice crumb.

LaSombra Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 7:56pm
post #17 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkalman

I agree.. I use cake/pastry flour for making cakes (and pastries LOL). It makes for a nice crumb.




I use AP flour for my cookies...with the exception of my Snickerdoodles or sugar cookies...love those to be soft icon_biggrin.gif It's a must have for pie crust thumbs_up.gif

oh, and for my scones, I use pastry flour! They come out so much softer than those you get in the store.

bonniesido Posted 25 Jun 2007 , 9:25pm
post #18 of 89

Great tutorial! Thanks so much for posting!!

apclassicwed Posted 26 Jun 2007 , 1:33am
post #19 of 89

Thanks for the refresher tutorial--I'm a scratch baker and I really appreciate the time you took to post such clear, concise directions. I picked up a couple pointers (especially about overmixing the flour step)

Ironbaker Posted 26 Jun 2007 , 4:52am
post #20 of 89

Good tutorial, it is in the mixing and baking.

Also, I like Rose Levy Berenbaum's way of mixing. She starts with mixing the dry ingredients in the bowl, then adding the butter until it's crumbly, then adding in the liquids/eggs in two parts. The Cake Bible is just a good tool to have that explains the science behind baking.

LaSombra Posted 26 Jun 2007 , 5:41am
post #21 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironbaker

Good tutorial, it is in the mixing and baking.

Also, I like Rose Levy Berenbaum's way of mixing. She starts with mixing the dry ingredients in the bowl, then adding the butter until it's crumbly, then adding in the liquids/eggs in two parts. The Cake Bible is just a good tool to have that explains the science behind baking.




That's an interesting way to do cake...the biscuit method. That's how I make scones and biscotti and they turn out nice. Would be interesting to try and do a cake that way.

FromScratch Posted 26 Jun 2007 , 2:10pm
post #22 of 89

That is an interesting way to do it.. that way the most of the gluten gets coated with the fats and it makes it harder to overmix it.. hmmmm.. I might have to give that a try. Thanks!! icon_biggrin.gif

Ironbaker Posted 27 Jun 2007 , 2:34am
post #23 of 89

You're welcome! That was the first I've seen recipes mixed like that and I do like it.

You put your eggs/whites, flavors and other liquid in a bowl and slightly whisk. Pour all but 1/2c of it into the flour/butter mix and beat for about 1 1/2 min. Pour in the rest and beat for 30 seconds, scrape the bowl and beat for another 20 seconds.

It seems to go quicker too....or it's my imagination. icon_lol.gif But I usually get all the liquids together first so I don't have to stop later and prepare them.

LaSombra Posted 27 Jun 2007 , 3:11am
post #24 of 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironbaker

You're welcome! That was the first I've seen recipes mixed like that and I do like it.

You put your eggs/whites, flavors and other liquid in a bowl and slightly whisk. Pour all but 1/2c of it into the flour/butter mix and beat for about 1 1/2 min. Pour in the rest and beat for 30 seconds, scrape the bowl and beat for another 20 seconds.

It seems to go quicker too....or it's my imagination. icon_lol.gif But I usually get all the liquids together first so I don't have to stop later and prepare them.



That's really interesting though. I bet it makes for a nice, light cake icon_biggrin.gif

cakes-r-us Posted 27 Jun 2007 , 3:11am
post #25 of 89

When mixing ( I have a kitchenaid) you mix on medium is that between 4-6? Do you mix 2 minutes minimum when doing scratch cake, or just until incorporated? If the recipe doesn't say how long to mix, what is the rule, just wondering. I usually mix 2 minutes. I think that is the problem when I do a carrot cake, it always sink, is this one of the cakes that should only be mixed until ingredients incorporated. I've spent lots of money trying to make a carrot cake from scratch that don't sink. Maybe i'm overmixing. Does anyone have a caramel cake recipe? Very helpful tutorial by the way.

Ironbaker Posted 27 Jun 2007 , 3:42am
post #26 of 89

If done right, they do come out light and moist! It took me awhile. icon_lol.gif

Cakes-r-us, I actually tested that out this past weekend. I mentioned 1 1/2 minutes earlier in my above post (because all her recipes call for that) but I usually don't go that long. Well, I did this past weekend and my cakes sunk. I assumed I overbeat them. I had it on 6. So I will use a 2-4 for the same amount of time or a 6 for less time.

So I'd say if you do 2 minutes, don't have it on 6. icon_smile.gif

cakes-r-us Posted 27 Jun 2007 , 3:47am
post #27 of 89

Thanks a whole lot for the response Ironbaker, I will decrease my speed, and see if that helps. So frustrating ending up with sunken cakes.

kansaslaura Posted 27 Jun 2007 , 4:04am
post #28 of 89

Awesome instructions! I have preached technique for a long time. I have a very popular chocolate chip cookie recipe I use all the time. People rave about them being the best cookie they've ever had.

My secret is the best possible ingredients and I'm absolutley religious about mixing technique. I'm saving those instructions, I may just convert back to all scratch baking!

Thanks thumbs_up.gif

lilytexas Posted 27 Jun 2007 , 4:05am
post #29 of 89

thank you, for posting

wendy1273 Posted 27 Jun 2007 , 5:30am
post #30 of 89

Thank you for taking the time to do this for us.


God bless

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