Cakes can be termed one of the happiest foods. A lot of people go to parties to enjoy a slice of cake. There are people who even go the extra mile to purchase a large cake so they can have it for breakfast every day. When you hear of the variety of cakes such as red velvet, strawberry cake, angel food, and so many others, you may begin to think the types of cakes we have are innumerable. Cakeologists tend to disagree with this. In fact, they claim the varieties of cake you see out there are all grouped into distinct types which you would see below-
1. Foam Cakes
Foam cakes are very light cakes that get their lift from eggs and egg whites. Their lack of flour makes them very fluffy. To make this type of cake requires a lot of dedication and precision on the baker’s end. The baker beats the eggs and egg whites so air is trapped in them, and then folds them into a better. During the baking process, the air in the batter becomes steam that gives rise to the cake. Below are some types of foam cakes –
Foam cakes baked using egg white alone are the fluffiest of cakes you would ever find. They are very airy and contain low-fat content which makes them somewhat healthy. An example of this cake is angel food. They are usually baked in a tall pan because the egg white causes the cake to rise. You can’t heavily frost this type of cake because they are extremely delicate. If you insist on adding extra flavor, you can simply go for whipped cream or a simple glaze.
Egg-white with yolk
These are mostly sponge cakes with we enjoy because they are springy and very rich. Egg yolk contains most of the nutrients found in eggs, so they’re more nutritious. They are ideal for jelly roll cakes and are usually baked in large and shallow baking pans, unlike the egg-white only cakes. You can decide to layer your sponge cakes and use light frosting or fillings.
Egg and oil
This type of cake is baked with oil, but still needs a large number of eggs to make it rise. The most popular example of cakes baked with egg and is chiffon cake. The eggs contribute to the texture of the cake (makes it soft and light) while the oil plays a great role in the cake’s flavor. Most bakers use light frosting on this type of cake. Although it is easy-going on the taste buds, it has a low-fat content.
Most flourless cakes are usually considered as foam cakes because they rely on eggs to get their lift. Although, a few flavors such as flourless chocolate cakes are made from chocolate are very rich in chocolate and cream and don’t feel like foam cakes when eaten.
While cheesecakes don’t completely fall in the cake category, they are equally delicious. Cheesecake is baked custard. It is usually flat and can be served in well-shaped slices. The base is made from crushed cookies and is then topped with eggs, sugar, and soft cheese.
3. Pound Cakes
You would easily recognize a pound cake by its loaf shape. It originated in Europe and its name comes from a French phrase quatre quarts which mean four quarters. This is because the 4 major ingredients used to bake the cake (flour, butter, sugar, eggs) are used in equal amounts.
Pound cake doesn’t rise as the other types of cake because it is nutrient-dense. Although the eggs lift it a bit, it doesn’t rise a lot. This nutritious cake isn’t usually layered after completion, and when bakers decide to add some frosting, they only use a thin layer of ganache or confectioner’s sugar glaze. They don’t use cream frosting for pound cakes.
4. Shortened or Butter Cakes
Shortened or butter cakes are widely known for their high solid fat content which is usually butter or oil. When completed, they usually have a very soft texture and there are several types of butter cakes. One of the most popular is the American-style butter cake.
American-style butter cakes
These types of cakes have been popular since the 1800s and are usually made by leavening with baking powder, baking soda, or both. It has been used to celebrate birthdays, weddings and other great occasions. Carrot cake, banana cake, and some velvet cakes are examples of American-style butter cakes that are shortened with oil.
How to Make a Cake
Now that we’ve seen the major types of cakes we have, we would be showing you how to make a cake in the comfort of your home. Make sure that you follow the instructions carefully and do proper research if you have doubts about anything.
1. Choose a recipe
Before you can begin the preparation of your delicious cake, you have to choose the recipe for the type of cake you want to bake. There are hundreds of recipes to choose from, but you can easily start from a yellow cake with chocolate frosting or a vanilla cake recipe. If you want something shower, you can try the red velvet cake recipe or the devil’s food cake. A German chocolate cake recipe is perfect for those who don’t like their cake with frosting. The method will be showing you is general and can be used for various types of cakes except for pound cakes, sponge cake, and angel food cake.
2. Pick the right baking pan
You can’t use any baking pan to prepare any type of cake you want. Just like you would need a tall pan for foam cakes made with egg white alone, other types of cake also require baking and that would make them come out great.
Based on material properties, there are some pans you can use to make most cakes. Single-wall aluminum pans are great baking pans for most cakes with or without the non-stick coating. Other baking pans you can try out include –
- Dark or shiny pans: These pans give a good finishing to the cake. If you’re using dark pans, you should reduce the oven temperature by 25°F and check if your cake is done 3 to 5 minutes earlier to prevent your cake from getting too brown. Shiny pans give your cake a golden appearance.
- Shapes and sizes: Some cakes require 8 ½ or 9 ½ inches round pans. Cakes baked in these types of pans should be left longer in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes. You can either use square or round pans depending on what is mentioned in the recipe.
3. Wait for the ingredients to reach room temperature
You may be in a hurry to get your cake down right away. But it will become a problem when you begin to mix ingredients at uneven temperatures. Many recipes require their ingredients (especially eggs and butter) to stand at room temperature for a specific time. This is because butter and eggs blend well with other ingredients at room temperature, and it results in a greater cake volume. To prevent contamination and ensure the safety of your cake, you shouldn’t leave your ingredients longer than specified in the recipe.
4. Prepare the baking pans
With the exception of chiffon cakes and angel food, most recipes require you to prepare your baking pan before you put in your batter. You don’t your cake to stick to the sides of the pan when it’s done. Depending on what your recipe says, here is what you should do:
- If your recipe calls for greasing and flouring the pan, use a pastry brush (if you have one) or paper towel to spread butter on the bottom, corners, and 1 inch up the sides of the pan from the bottom. Then, sprinkle a little flour into the pan so it covers the greasing. Remove excess butter by turning the pan and dusting it into a basin or sink.
- If the recipe says you should line the pan with waxed or parchment paper, you should place the pan on the paper and use a pen or pencil to trace the line around the bottom of the pan. Cut the paper and place it in the pan. Then, grease and flour the lined pan as described above.
5. Preheat your oven.
When you skip this step when baking cakes, you would notice cracks and tunnels formed on your cake when it is done. You should preheat your oven for about 10 minutes and ensure it reaches the appropriate temperature using your oven thermometer. When using dark pans, remember to reduce the temperature by 25°F. Preheating your oven should also be done when you have all your ingredients ready and you’re about to begin the stirring process. If you begin to heat your oven too early, it may get too hot and you might have to turn it off. After your first one or two attempts at baking, you would know the best time to turn on your oven.
6. Stir dry ingredients
Many people make the mistake of putting all their ingredients in one bowl and just turning everything, assuring themselves that it is all going into the baking pan and the cake would come out great irrespective of how the ingredients are prepared. This is not true.
Dry ingredients which usually include salt, flour, baking powder, and/or baking soda should not be added individually to the batter and then stirred. Instead of doing this, the dry ingredients should be mixed in a separate bowl beforehand. This makes it easier to know what ingredient is lacking and what you would have to add, so you can get a great-tasting cake.
7. Mix the butter and sugar
The final texture of the cake you bake depends on what you do with the butter and sugar during the preparation stages. If you want a cake with a light texture, mix the butter and sugar in appropriate amounts as indicated in the recipe. Here’s how to determine if your butter and sugar are perfectly combined –
- Use an electric mixer set on medium to high speed to beat the butter for 30 seconds. Many people do use their hands to beat the butter but this is a very tedious process. Getting an electric mixer makes everything ready on time.
- Add sugar little by little: Putting at least about ¼ cup of sugar in your shortening or butter while mixing the butter is very important as it allows more air into your mixture.
- In about 3 to 5 minutes, your sugar-butter mixture should be ready after you’ve carried out medium speed mixing of the two. As the butter and sugar are mixed, tiny bubbles will be created, thus giving your cake light and fluffy texture. Occasionally, you should scrape the sides of your bowl to get everything to mix on an equal level.
8. Add eggs one at a time
Once you’ve got your batter ready, you can begin to add the eggs. Get a small custard cup or bowl and break your egg into it. This way, you’ll be able to remove any shell that may fall into the bowl. Afterward, pour the egg into the butter-sugar mixture and stir. Repeat the process for each egg till you’re done, and ensure you beat the eggs properly into the mixture.
9. Alternate between the dry and wet ingredients
You must have three separate mixtures at this point – dry ingredient mixture, butter-sugar-egg mixture, and liquid (milk or any other liquid ingredient as included in the recipe). When you have these, start with the flour mixture and alternate between the liquid and dry mixtures until everything is completely added to the butter-sugar mixture. Ensure you start and end with flour because gluten forms when liquid is mixed with flour and you definitely don’t want too much gluten in your cake. Mix the ingredients at low speed carefully till it is ready.
Your batter is ready now that everything has blended properly and is smooth enough. Pour it into your baking pans and use a metal spatula to spread the batter evenly to the edge of the pan. Place your pan in the oven and bake.
11. Check the cake
You don’t want to pull out a dry cake from your oven. So, you have to remove your cake at an appropriate time. Start checking your cake for doneness after the minimum baking time on the recipe. If it’s a creamed cake, stick a toothpick in the middle and see how it comes out. If it’s clean, it means your cake is ready.
12. Cool the cake
When the cake is done, bring it out of your oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan. Then remove it by using a knife to carefully loosen the cake from the sides. Place a wire rack over the top of your cake and flip the pan. Be careful not to damage the edges of your cake. If you used parchment paper to line the pan, carefully peel it off the cake.
Leave the cake outside for at least one hour for it so solidify. This way, it would not crumble when you’re frosting it or melt the frost.
13. Assemble the cake
Your cake is probably in different layers. To put it together without crumbs forming in the frost, brush the cake layers before assembling. Spread about ½ cup of frosting over the first layer then place the second layer on top. Continue until the layers are complete.
14. Spread your frosting
Add the first layer of thin frosting to keep the crumbs out of the frost. This layer doesn’t need to look perfect. Leave this first layer for about 30 minutes for the frosting to stand. Use a spatula or knife to spread the remaining frost around the cake and decorate it. It is ready to be served two hours after frosting or you can store it in the refrigerator.