Lately, I seem to have set a baking pattern for myself: 1 great cake, 3 awful cakes. You can imagine what a high I’m on when a cake goes well. I start going through my recipe books at high speed wondering which cake I’m going to attempt next. And then comes an epic fail. And then another. And another.
A few days ago, one of my closest friends had invited me and our other friends over for dinner, so I decided to take along a cake. Not just any cake. A three-tiered, malt-flavoured, extravagantly decorated with Maltesers cake! (Is your mouth watering yet?)
And so into the oven went the first layer and out it came, looking (and smelling) divine. I was engrossed in a conversation with my mum about how easy baking really can be if you just keep practicing, and was taking the cake out onto a rack to cool when it literally BROKE into three pieces :-(
Not one to be put off so easily, I quickly made some more batter and tried the first layer again. This time, it over-baked. I hadn’t touched the temperature dial. I’d baked it for the exact same time as the first cake yet there it was, crispy as nacho!
Still feeling determined, I made another layer and this time (drumroll please…) it didn’t rise. Same batter. Same ingredients. Yet the cake just shrunk inwards as if it was saying out loud “give up and leave me alone!”
Moral of the story?
Baking is complex. If you already knew this, well done. You’re obviously way ahead of me and I’m just getting my head around this. Everything from the type of oven you have, to the bakeware you use, to the ingredients of the cake play some sort of role. Get one thing wrong and there goes hours of hard work!
On the occasions that I do get a cake right (it happens, I promise!), I’ve found its when I’ve really concentrated on the whole process, read over the recipe a good couple of times and laid out all the ingredients before starting. Also, I’ve been extra careful with timing how long the cake is in the oven for (making sure to adjust when the size of the pan has been changed).
Here is one such example I like to look at to give myself hope when I feel like screaming “oh my gaaad I’m never going to be able to bake a cake properly!!!”