Last night I got a bit more spinning done, while I watched Stardust with my sister. I continue to work my way through the merino/silk and to contemplate what to do with it in the end.
Today, my second bead order arrived:
(NTS- check hole size in beads more carefully, these are too small for the wire I currently have. Good thing I’ve got to go back to the store for cake boxes tonight anyway…)
But most of the day has been spent in the kitchen baking. I figured I’d go over the cake process, this entry dealing with the baking procedure, and tomorrow I’ll try and put up something on the decorating.
To start with, this time I’m making a three tiered cake, using the 6″, 8″, and 12″ round pans (for tiers you really need at least 2 inches difference, in order to get any decoration on at all, 4 is better, but I don’t have a 4″ or 14″ so I have to make do with a 2″ difference somewhere). This means I needed 4 batches of cake batter (one batch for the 8″, a little over half for the 6″, and 2+the left over from the 6″ for the 12″).
1. Gather ingredients, preheat oven to 350F and grease and flour pans. To do the last step, use shortening* and wax paper and grease (ie. rub all over inside surfaces of) the pans, making sure to get into the edges and then spoon a little flour into the pan, and coat the inside with the flour (ie. tap the pan and turn it until the whole inside, bottom and sides, are coated with flour), tap out excess into the sink/compost/garbage. This is the best way to make sure that they cake will bake evenly and come out of the pan at the end.
2. Make batter and pour into pans. The recipe I use is super easy and amounts to throw the ingredients ( 2c. flour, 1.5c sugar, 0.5c. shortening*, 1c milk, 3 eggs, 3.5tsp baking powder, 1tsp salt, 1tsp flavour**) into the stand mixer (I heart my KitchenAid) and mix for 3mins on 4 (rougly medium speed) and pour into pan. I usually scrape the sides after a minute.
( Batter in the 8 and 12″ pans)
3. Bake. Baking time will depend on the size of the cake and depth of the pan (BTW- all of my pans are 3″ deep, this means one pan will make a layer cake, rather than having to bake separate layers). For the 6″ I started with 40mins and for the others 60mins and then bake and check in 5min increments until the proverbial toothpick instered in centre comes out clean.
(The 6″ baking – note: the batter only fills the pan 1/2 to 2/3 full, cakes rise… over filling the pan is a messy mistake)
4. Cool. Once the cake is baked, remove it from the pan immediately – otherwise it will continue to bake and get over cooked. Place it on a cooling rack, and let it cool. To remove the cake, gently shake the pan to loose the cake (don’t go jabbing a knife around the side, you’ll scratch the pan, cut the cake, and it doesn’t really help) and then turn the pan over, by placing either the cooling rack or your hand (in oven mitt) over the top of the cake to catch it.
(The 8″ on cooling rack.)
5. Clean the pan. To do this use a paper towel and wipe the hot pan clean. DON’T use soap, DON’T wash the pan. When the pan is hot everything will come out easily (if you’ve greased and floured as above) and by not washing it you will be conditioning the pan so it will require less greasing over time and your cakes will never taste of dishwashing liquid (they also don’t get spotty and rusted and blackened).
(The 8″ once the cake had been removed, the little bits are normal, but I must have missed a patch on the bottom as I don’t usually have chunks like that stick.)
(The 8″ after being cleaned with just a paper towel, the pan is still hot so let it cool before putting it away. Note how clean and shinny, this pan has had rigorous use over the last few years and it still looks virtually new.)
(The 12″ cooling, in the back you can see the dowels I bought for doing the stacking – because I was too lazy to cut my own, which is really really easy… but meant I had to go find the doweling in the store, so I bought the prefab stuff.)
*On the topic of shortening- USE VEGETABLE SHORTENING, not lard (never lard) or butter or margarine. Lard makes the cake taste horrible and be the wrong texture (one of the girls in my cake decorating class made her cakes with lard, it was gross). I can’t tell you exactly what happens to the cake when made with butter/margarine, but if you grease the pan with it you will fry the outside of the cake and it won’t bake evenly, this is also the case with cooking spray. Use shortening, it comes in easy to measure bricks, and it works.
**Flavouring, I use vanilla 99% of the time, and because I usually am making white cake – as in this case- I use clear vanilla in order to avoid it discolouring the cake (the discolouration of the cake is not that bad, so regular black vanilla extract will probably work for most needs. It is, however, noticable in the icing, so I just always use the clear). Other favours can be used also – ones I’ve used include: rum (as in actual rum, I prefer to use dark rum and will usually use a little more of that than of vanilla), lemon (which you can get in bottles like vanilla), and peppermint. Make sure that whatever you use, it will not clash violently with your icing and filling flavours (which is why vanilla is so great, as it goes with pretty much everything).