How Do I Start Baking?

Decorating By makeherabaker Updated 19 Dec 2014 , 7:57pm by MBalaska

makeherabaker Posted 1 Dec 2014 , 11:53pm
post #1 of 32

Stupid question.

 

I have made a few cakes and cupcakes.

 

The Boston cream pie at the edges was overbaked but my 10 inch Christmas rum fruit cake which I tried out a few weeks ago will be a hit, it was moist, baked well and did not sink. I had some of the people eating it test it. As for the cupcakes I've made they're okay but too sweet and could do with being more fluffy. Every thing I make is from scratch but from a recipe.

 

I guess I will have to get the cake itself right before thinking about decorating.

 

Baking classes are out of my budget.

 

 

I've tried some YT recipes but never for sweet things.

 

How do I start making cakes worth eating and improving recipes?

 

I'm in England

31 replies
costumeczar Posted 2 Dec 2014 , 12:12am
post #2 of 32

Get a copy of The Cake Bible...it has metric conversions and the recipes in it all have explanations of why they work. Once you understand why a recipe comes out the way that it does, and why you have to do certain things to certain ingredients, you'll be able to adjust your recipes to make them less dense, less sweet, etc.

 

You can also go to the Rose Levy Berenbaum website (she wrote the cake Bible) and go on their baking forums. There's a lot of good advice and tips being passed around there. http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/

makeherabaker Posted 2 Dec 2014 , 12:44am
post #3 of 32

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar 
 

Get a copy of The Cake Bible...it has metric conversions and the recipes in it all have explanations of why they work. Once you understand why a recipe comes out the way that it does, and why you have to do certain things to certain ingredients, you'll be able to adjust your recipes to make them less dense, less sweet, etc.

 

You can also go to the Rose Levy Berenbaum website (she wrote the cake Bible) and go on their baking forums. There's a lot of good advice and tips being passed around there. http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/

 

Thanks. I have read that her recipes do not work here because of the flour

enga Posted 2 Dec 2014 , 1:14am
post #4 of 32

When I first started baking The Better Homes and Gardens new cook book was my best friend. Their cake recipes are pretty easy to follow and the come out great every time. The first cake I made was the pineapple upside down cake, simply divine. I have so many cake books but I always find myself returning to it for classic favorites.

 

Also look for The Better Homes and Gardens new baking book. Hope this helps, Happy Baking!

enga Posted 2 Dec 2014 , 1:29am
post #5 of 32

P.S. The older the version the better, found one from the 50's at a yard sale :)

costumeczar Posted 2 Dec 2014 , 11:18am
post #6 of 32

A

Original message sent by makeherabaker

Thanks. I have read that her recipes do not work here because of the flour

Ah, interesting...that's entirely possible. Ask on her forum boards, I'd be willing to bet that there are bakers on there from Europe who would be able to answer questions for you. Flours usually differ based on protein content, so you can adjust that by using more or less flour in the recipe, but there might be something else you need to adjust too.

kazita Posted 2 Dec 2014 , 12:28pm
post #7 of 32

AWww.cupcakeproject.com ....go on there and look for there ultimate vanilla cupcakes. .ive made them several times. .always turn out great

makeherabaker Posted 2 Dec 2014 , 6:21pm
post #8 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by enga 
 

When I first started baking The Better Homes and Gardens new cook book was my best friend. Their cake recipes are pretty easy to follow and the come out great every time. The first cake I made was the pineapple upside down cake, simply divine. I have so many cake books but I always find myself returning to it for classic favorites.

 

Also look for The Better Homes and Gardens new baking book. Hope this helps, Happy Baking!

 

Is this the correct book?

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar 


Ah, interesting...that's entirely possible. Ask on her forum boards, I'd be willing to bet that there are bakers on there from Europe who would be able to answer questions for you. Flours usually differ based on protein content, so you can adjust that by using more or less flour in the recipe, but there might be something else you need to adjust too.

I will do. There is apparently a UK version which I'm yet to find

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kazita 

Www.cupcakeproject.com ....go on there and look for there ultimate vanilla cupcakes. .ive made them several times. .always turn out great

I just made them, very nice but sinking perhaps I should cook them at temperature stated even though my oven is very hot, after the cooking time they were this color [not my image]but not completely cooked through. The sinking is not a great issue because I will be hollowing them but it would be nice if they didn't sink. Additionally, a lot of cake is lost to the wrappers

 

sannalee Posted 2 Dec 2014 , 9:17pm
post #9 of 32

If you dont have one invest in an oven thermometer to see if your oven runs hot or cold and adjust accordingly. Every oven has its little quirks so learning them will help give better results for example mine has a hot spot at the back on the left hand side and runs  several degrees cold, so i adjust my baking temp and flip my cupcakes in the last 5 minutes, knowing your oven will give better results.  Humidity can also affect baking results.

 Start with a reliable source for recipes and Research research practice practice.

petitecat Posted 2 Dec 2014 , 9:55pm
post #10 of 32

A[@]makeherabaker[/@ ]Bake cakes, lots of cakes, and decorate them to practice! They both take a while to learn and get the hang. Make cakes for yourself, your family, anyone really. Plenty of recipes here in the recipes section, quite often with feedback from those who have tried it. Good luck, you'll get there!

Narie Posted 2 Dec 2014 , 11:50pm
post #11 of 32

All the advice I've read here is very good.  One further suggestion- recipes from companies selling flour, sugar, cocoa etc, are usually good.  They have been thoroughly tested in the company's food labs.  They really want you to buy their product so their recipes are not going to be stinkers.  Example- Libby's Pumpkin Pie recipe, Nestles' Tollhouse Cookies, Hershey's Black Magic Cake. These are just a couple of examples.  They may not be exactly what you want, but they are good, dependable recipes.

makeherabaker Posted 3 Dec 2014 , 12:30am
post #12 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by sannalee 
 

If you dont have one invest in an oven thermometer to see if your oven runs hot or cold and adjust accordingly. Every oven has its little quirks so learning them will help give better results for example mine has a hot spot at the back on the left hand side and runs  several degrees cold, so i adjust my baking temp and flip my cupcakes in the last 5 minutes, knowing your oven will give better results.  Humidity can also affect baking results.

 Start with a reliable source for recipes and Research research practice practice.

I'll see if I can find an oven thermometer there isn't a baking supplies store nearby. I have been looking through reputable websites.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by petitecat 

@makeherabakerBake cakes, lots of cakes, and decorate them to practice! They both take a while to learn and get the hang. Make cakes for yourself, your family, anyone really. Plenty of recipes here in the recipes section, quite often with feedback from those who have tried it. Good luck, you'll get there!

 

:shock: i can only really afford to bake one cake a week and I think my family would tire of cake and be the only one accepting of my practice cakes but I'll think of something. I can't locate vegetable shortening here in the UK...online anyway since it's past midnight, for fondant recipes. I would like to use as few artificial ingredients as possible.

 

Looking at the recipes  on site I can't find ones that do not use a box mix. I would like to spend a weekend doing an entire cake particularly as the holidays are coming and I will have the time.  Can almost any cake be covered with ganache or buttercream?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Narie 
 

All the advice I've read here is very good.  One further suggestion- recipes from companies selling flour, sugar, cocoa etc, are usually good.  They have been thoroughly tested in the company's food labs.  They really want you to buy their product so their recipes are not going to be stinkers.  Example- Libby's Pumpkin Pie recipe, Nestles' Tollhouse Cookies, Hershey's Black Magic Cake. These are just a couple of examples.  They may not be exactly what you want, but they are good, dependable recipes.

I will look at some companies for recipes

enga Posted 3 Dec 2014 , 1:48am
post #13 of 32

Yes Makeherabaker, that's the latest one. I have the copy below but I know your going to love that one too. Check out some of the reviews and good luck with your journey in baking. Between practicing and feedback from good folks here, you will be a great baker in no time :wink:

 

http://www.vintagecookbook.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Better-Homes-and-Gardens-New-Baking-Book.jpg

lellylemondrop Posted 3 Dec 2014 , 7:34pm
post #14 of 32

AHi, vegetable shortening in UK is Trex. It's the same as Crisco which is used in US.

kazita Posted 3 Dec 2014 , 9:53pm
post #15 of 32

ASorry but I absolutely hate Crisco, I only use high ratio shortening. ..which I get from a speciality cake store...but if you're in the UK you probably have no other choice but to use Trex....anyway Happy Baking! !:grin:

makeherabaker Posted 3 Dec 2014 , 10:15pm
post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by enga 
 

Yes Makeherabaker, that's the latest one. I have the copy below but I know your going to love that one too. Check out some of the reviews and good luck with your journey in baking. Between practicing and feedback from good folks here, you will be a great baker in no time :wink:

 

http://www.vintagecookbook.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Better-Homes-and-Gardens-New-Baking-Book.jpg

 

I can grab a used copy on Amaxon for $7!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lellylemondrop 

Hi, vegetable shortening in UK is Trex. It's the same as Crisco which is used in US.

Thanks. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kazita 

Sorry but I absolutely hate Crisco, I only use high ratio shortening. ..which I get from a speciality cake store...but if you're in the UK you probably have no other choice but to use Trex....anyway Happy Baking! !icon_biggrin.gif

 

I've never tried it. I don't like fondant myself but some sort of coating looks a bit more impressive. I will also be able to follow a recipe from this site more closely. Thanks I'm excited to get started

 

 

 

Is marshmallow fondant any good?

enga Posted 3 Dec 2014 , 10:55pm
post #17 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by enga View Post
 

Yes Makeherabaker, that's the latest one. I have the copy below but I know your going to love that one too. Check out some of the reviews and good luck with your journey in baking. Between practicing and feedback from good folks here, you will be a great baker in no time :wink:

 

http://www.vintagecookbook.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Better-Homes-and-Gardens-New-Baking-Book.jpg

 

I can grab a used copy on Amaxon for $7!

 

That's great!

 

 

 

I found this from Woodland Bakery Blog  (one of my favs) it might help.

 

http://www.woodlandbakeryblog.com/substitutions-i-dont-have-that-in-my-country/

kazita Posted 4 Dec 2014 , 12:16am
post #18 of 32

A

Original message sent by makeherabaker

I can grab a used copy on Amaxon for $7! Thanks. 

I've never tried it. I don't like fondant myself but some sort of coating looks a bit more impressive. I will also be able to follow a recipe from this site more closely. Thanks I'm excited to get started

Is marshmallow fondant any good?

Ive never had it myself but have read and been told its very yummy! !

MBalaska Posted 4 Dec 2014 , 3:21am
post #19 of 32

Quote:

Originally Posted by makeherabaker 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kazita 

Www.cupcakeproject.com ....go on there and look for there ultimate vanilla cupcakes. .ive made them several times. .always turn out great

I just made them, very nice but sinking perhaps I should cook them at temperature stated even though my oven is very hot, after the cooking time they were this color [not my image]but not completely cooked through. The sinking is not a great issue because I will be hollowing them but it would be nice if they didn't sink. Additionally, a lot of cake is lost to the wrappers

 

 

@makeherabaker I also tried that recipe yesterday, as it looked interesting.  My cupcakes were flat also.  Luckily I did not go over the half full in each cupcake paper liner, as they would have overflowed onto the pan.  I filled 18 cuppies and tossed the last bit of batter.  The recipe said to check them at 14 minutes, however mine took about 20 minutes.

they were soft, tender, and very tasty.  Mine did not stick to the paper liners.  I gave them a dash of simpy syrup and froze them.  I'll find out later how they are after being frozen.

 

I'd make them again with a bit less milk in the batter.

makeherabaker Posted 17 Dec 2014 , 9:03pm
post #20 of 32

Quote:

Originally Posted by MBalaska 
 

 

@makeherabaker I also tried that recipe yesterday, as it looked interesting.  My cupcakes were flat also.  Luckily I did not go over the half full in each cupcake paper liner, as they would have overflowed onto the pan.  I filled 18 cuppies and tossed the last bit of batter.  The recipe said to check them at 14 minutes, however mine took about 20 minutes.

they were soft, tender, and very tasty.  Mine did not stick to the paper liners.  I gave them a dash of simpy syrup and froze them.  I'll find out later how they are after being frozen.

 

I'd make them again with a bit less milk in the batter.

How were they? I'm going to make them next week despite being unsuccessful they were my most successful to date. I don't have another option.

makeherabaker Posted 17 Dec 2014 , 9:06pm
post #21 of 32

Is there a starter baker kit?

 

How do I smooth fondant without fondant smoothers? Are there any tools you wouldn't be without in your kitchen other than recipes? Much like a first baby I don't want to buy things I will never use.

 

Is a cake leveler needed? I can't seem to find on anywhere other than Amazon

 

 

Do you think it will be stupid to bake a full cake and top it with fondant over a weekend for practice? Can anybody recommend a cake recipe for such a thing?

 

Please

 

I think I will only be making marshmallow fondant

 

Not meaning to ask all these questions

MBalaska Posted 18 Dec 2014 , 1:08am
post #22 of 32

Quote:

Originally Posted by makeherabaker 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MBalaska 
 

 

@makeherabaker I also tried that recipe yesterday, as it looked interesting.  .........

How were they? I'm going to make them next week despite being unsuccessful they were my most successful to date. I don't have another option.

 

@makeherabaker  Last night I took the frozen cuppies out and thawed them.  They were unfrosted, and I'd put a dash of simple syrup on the tops before freezing.  They were very nice tasting.  The texture was super moist without being crumbly or having a weak texture.  I think that they were better after being frozen.  I also think that I was wrong to consider putting less milk in the recipe, as they were wonderful even without icing.  I ate several.......very nice vanilla cupcakes.

makeherabaker Posted 18 Dec 2014 , 8:56am
post #23 of 32

Quote:

Originally Posted by MBalaska 
 

 

@makeherabaker  Last night I took the frozen cuppies out and thawed them.  They were unfrosted, and I'd put a dash of simple syrup on the tops before freezing.  They were very nice tasting.  The texture was super moist without being crumbly or having a weak texture.  I think that they were better after being frozen.  I also think that I was wrong to consider putting less milk in the recipe, as they were wonderful even without icing.  I ate several.......very nice vanilla cupcakes.

This is great to hear that the structure was not affected by being frozen as I will be filling with creme patisserie and ganaching them upon thawing. I had already reduced the sugar down to .86 of a cup and I will make all of my cakes this weekend without fear of everything going terribly wrong.

 

 

Does anybody have an answer to these questions please?

 

How do I smooth fondant without fondant smoothers? Are there any tools you wouldn't be without in your kitchen other than recipes? Much like a first baby I don't want to buy things I will never use.

 

Is a cake leveler needed? I can't seem to find on anywhere other than Amazon

 

 

Do you think it will be stupid to bake a full cake and top it with fondant over a weekend for practice? Can anybody recommend a cake recipe for such a thing?

 

 I will only be making marshmallow fondant

 

petitecat Posted 18 Dec 2014 , 9:13am
post #24 of 32

Quote:

Originally Posted by makeherabaker 

 

How do I smooth fondant without fondant smoothers? Are there any tools you wouldn't be without in your kitchen other than recipes? Much like a first baby I don't want to buy things I will never use.

 

Is a cake leveler needed? I can't seem to find on anywhere other than Amazon

 

 

Do you think it will be stupid to bake a full cake and top it with fondant over a weekend for practice? Can anybody recommend a cake recipe for such a thing?

 

 I will only be making marshmallow fondant

 

 

Smoothing fondant- I smooth fondant often with fondant itself. Roll fondant into a ball, preferably the same coloured fondant as the cake, and gently but firmly use to smooth the cake. 

 

There are a million tools that I couldn't live with-

My right angled ruler for smoothing the sides of cakes

My cheap lazy susan from Ikea, helps me ice cakes while turning the cake around

My gripping mats- stops cakes moving about on the lazy susan while I ice them

 

I could name loads of others, but those I couldn't really do without these days.

 

Never stupid to bake cakes for practice, but if you want to practice often, and don't want to eat too much cake, then buy some cake dummies. I recommend the hershey chocolate cake recipe, I think it's on this site or just google it. It's so easy, inexpensive and delish.

 

Marshmallow fondant- oh yum.

 

HTH :smile:

petitecat Posted 18 Dec 2014 , 9:17am
post #25 of 32

Cake leveler- if you're not selling cakes then I would say you don't need it. It takes practice to level cakes with a knife. If you can find a cheap one like this http://www.lakeland.co.uk/12824/Cake-Leveller, then I'd get it because it does make life so much easier without spending too much.

 

If you opt to level cakes with a knife and you don't get the cut very even, I use the toothpick technique to 'match' the cakes. So, cut the cake but leave it where it is (don't move it around). Snap a toothpick in half (or use whole ones) and place a toothpick on the side of one cake, then place the other toothpick directly underneath that toothpick on the other cake. If you google 'torting cakes with toothpick' you'll get images of what I'm trying to say. I'm not very good with instructions!

makeherabaker Posted 18 Dec 2014 , 2:10pm
post #26 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by petitecat 
 

 

Smoothing fondant- I smooth fondant often with fondant itself. Roll fondant into a ball, preferably the same coloured fondant as the cake, and gently but firmly use to smooth the cake. 

 

There are a million tools that I couldn't live with-

My right angled ruler for smoothing the sides of cakes

My cheap lazy susan from Ikea, helps me ice cakes while turning the cake around

My gripping mats- stops cakes moving about on the lazy susan while I ice them

 

I could name loads of others, but those I couldn't really do without these days.

 

Never stupid to bake cakes for practice, but if you want to practice often, and don't want to eat too much cake, then buy some cake dummies. I recommend the hershey chocolate cake recipe, I think it's on this site or just google it. It's so easy, inexpensive and delish.

 

Marshmallow fondant- oh yum.

 

HTH :smile:

I wouldn't have thought of that fondant tip. It makes sense.

 

Right angled ruler? Like a tri square?

 

I have been eyeing the Ikea Lazy Susan especially as the others I've seen are 3 times the price.

Please could you share a link to 'gripping mats' as all I found were the ones you put under outdoor rugs.

Quote:

Originally Posted by petitecat 
 

Cake leveler- if you're not selling cakes then I would say you don't need it. It takes practice to level cakes with a knife. If you can find a cheap one like this http://www.lakeland.co.uk/12824/Cake-Leveller, then I'd get it because it does make life so much easier without spending too much.

 

If you opt to level cakes with a knife and you don't get the cut very even, I use the toothpick technique to 'match' the cakes. So, cut the cake but leave it where it is (don't move it around). Snap a toothpick in half (or use whole ones) and place a toothpick on the side of one cake, then place the other toothpick directly underneath that toothpick on the other cake. If you google 'torting cakes with toothpick' you'll get images of what I'm trying to say. I'm not very good with instructions!

Also another great tip! I'd like to assume that having the cake on a Susan will make it easier to torte..which is a new word for me

petitecat Posted 18 Dec 2014 , 3:17pm
post #27 of 32

Yup, like a tri square. I have that too.

 

Get the lazy susan- best £5 I spent on cake equipment! It makes a world of difference in terms of time and ease when icing cakes. 

 

I didn't get my gripping mats online. If you are based in the UK, I just found them in the pound shop- Poundland I think it was. It's in the kitchen section along with the plastic bowls etc. Lakeland sell them too- they're called Slip-a-Grip 

 

http://www.lakeland.co.uk/8297/Slip-a-Grip?gclid=CjwKEAiAk8qkBRDOqYediILQ5BMSJAB40A5U5fRPell397PMMUkqyUIdH6UNwzja33qfhMdCzFDRrBoCDQnw_wcB&src=gfeed&s_kwcid=AL!49!3!54933124589!!!g!42887449464!&ef_id=VI74mQAAAICb4ckw:20141218151409:s

 

Before I got any gripping mats, I just dabbed the lazy susan with a bit of royal icing, placed the cake on it (the cake is on a cake board of course), then proceeded to ice the cake. Put just enough royal icing to stop the cake moving about. You could do this while you try and find some gripping mats.

zirarzirar Posted 18 Dec 2014 , 5:25pm
post #28 of 32

I agree with COSTUMECZAR's comment about that

Pastrybaglady Posted 18 Dec 2014 , 5:46pm
post #29 of 32

Not sure where you're from but silicone grippy mats are everywhere in the states.  They can be found at the dollar store sold in convenient squares or in bigger rolls at stores like Target or if you want to go even bigger you could buy a yoga mat!  They are great for holding the cake board on the lazy susan as well as transporting the cake in the car. I also use one to hold my mixer still when it's high speed beating.  I like to level with a nice long serrated knife.  If you don't get a good leveler they do more harm than good.

makeherabaker Posted 18 Dec 2014 , 6:40pm
post #30 of 32

Quote:

Originally Posted by petitecat 
 

Yup, like a tri square. I have that too.

 

Get the lazy susan- best £5 I spent on cake equipment! It makes a world of difference in terms of time and ease when icing cakes. 

 

I didn't get my gripping mats online. If you are based in the UK, I just found them in the pound shop- Poundland I think it was. It's in the kitchen section along with the plastic bowls etc. Lakeland sell them too- they're called Slip-a-Grip 

 

http://www.lakeland.co.uk/8297/Slip-a-Grip?gclid=CjwKEAiAk8qkBRDOqYediILQ5BMSJAB40A5U5fRPell397PMMUkqyUIdH6UNwzja33qfhMdCzFDRrBoCDQnw_wcB&src=gfeed&s_kwcid=AL!49!3!54933124589!!!g!42887449464!&ef_id=VI74mQAAAICb4ckw:20141218151409:s

 

Before I got any gripping mats, I just dabbed the lazy susan with a bit of royal icing, placed the cake on it (the cake is on a cake board of course), then proceeded to ice the cake. Put just enough royal icing to stop the cake moving about. You could do this while you try and find some gripping mats.

Thank you. I will definitely get the lazy Susan then and head to Poundland

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Pastrybaglady 
 

Not sure where you're from but silicone grippy mats are everywhere in the states.  They can be found at the dollar store sold in convenient squares or in bigger rolls at stores like Target or if you want to go even bigger you could buy a yoga mat!  They are great for holding the cake board on the lazy susan as well as transporting the cake in the car. I also use one to hold my mixer still when it's high speed beating.  I like to level with a nice long serrated knife.  If you don't get a good leveler they do more harm than good.

Thanks

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