Here’s a personal question….when was the last time you baked a cake? Last month? Last year? NEVER?!? (By the way, borrowing your 8-year-old niece’s Easy Bake Oven or buying water and a Pillsbury box doesn’t count.)
Many first time bakers are embarrassed to admit that they don’t know where to start, what to shop for and that creating the sugar concoction from scratch scares the apron off them. But luckily for us, Staten Island Cakes master chef Vinny Buzzetta spills his secrets on how to bake a cake in just 10 simple steps that will melt away any amateur’s fears and make them feel like a pro.
Step #1: Clear Your Mind and Schedule
An amateur baker should definitely expect to put a lot of time into their first cake. Cakes are not as easy as they look and someone can easily run into a problem. However, no one should ever get discouraged. Practice makes perfect, especially in this case!
Step #2: Stick to Basics for Beginners
In my opinion I don’t think an amateur baker should be making a five-tier wedding cake. They should try something small, maybe an eight- or 10-inch round birthday cake. They can simply decorate it with stripes or polka dots and practice basic fondant techniques.
Step #3: Stock Up On These 7 Must-Have Ingredients
Buy large eggs, unsalted butter, granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, baking soda/and or powder, pure vanilla extract, and buttermilk. Those are the main ingredients to make an awesome Vanilla Butter Cake with Vanilla Italian or Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
Step #4: Use These Tools for Perfection
Powdered sugar, rolling pin, fondant smoother, exact-o-knife, a variety of paintbrushes and different shape cutters to apply decorations to your cake.
Step #5: Size Doesn’t Matter
You can bake in almost any size kitchen as long as you’re neat and organized. Whenever you’re baking or decorating cakes you want to have everything planned out and prepped. Organization and cleanliness is key to a beautiful cake!
Step #6: Apply the Rules for Readiness
There are a few ways to see if a cake is done.
- It should be golden brown.
- When you insert a knife or fork into the cake it should come out clean.
- The cake should be slightly pulling away from the sides of the pan (if you jiggle it).
- A perfectly baked cake will spring back to the touch nicely!
Step #7: Baby Your Leftovers
I like to wrap excess cake in plastic wrap and just store it out on the counter. I do not like refrigerating cakes, this tends to dry them out and make them hard.
Step #8: Don’t Cheat With Your Measurements
Whether you’re decorating a cake or making apple strudel, the key to a perfectly baked product is accurate measuring. Baking really is a science and every ingredient has to be precise!”
Step #9: Avoiding Kitchen Catastrophe Tips
Clean up after yourself as soon as you are finished with something. Whenever you’re working with any type of pastry or fondant you should be in an air-conditioned or cool environment. If you have something in the oven or on the stove always keep an eye on it. Always keep fondant wrapped tightly in plastic when you’re not using it so it doesn’t dry out. Always roll your fondant with some powdered sugar, don’t be afraid to use it either! If it’s sticking at all add some more.
Step #10: Vinny’s Secret to Success
The best advice I can give to a first time cake maker is DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED! Beautiful cakes are difficult to make and they take time and practice. The first time probably won’t be as smooth as you think, but there’s always the next time. Don’t give up!
Hope Daniels is a freelance writer based out of the tri-state area. From pets to parenting to pop culture, you can ask her to write about any life topics, just don’t ask her for directions!