As we often hear on the Great British Bake Off (and from our Food Editor), baking is more of a science than an art - and one false move, and you could end up with a cake that sinks in the middle, is raw AND burnt or similar...
But there are some common baking mistakes that everyone makes without even realising, and it could be compromising your bakes. Once you know what to watch out for, your baking will step up a notch and you'll be able to bake with confidence every time. Don't believe us? Here are 7 things you could do differently to make your baking foolproof.
Inspired? Take a look at all our cake recipes.
1. Not taking ingredients out of the fridge before you start
It's important to let eggs and butter come to room temperature before you start baking a cake to get a smoother mixture that traps more air in it, for better results all round. A lot of people skip this step, and it shows! This isn't optional, it's worth remembering.
2. Using any old tin
The recipe states a specific tin size that don't have, but you plough on regardless. It will probably be ok, right? Stop right there! Use the right tin, pick a different recipe for the tin you have, or accept that you'll have to adjust the recipe or cooking time yourself, with no guarantees that it will turn out properly...
(Pssst! Our Black Forest torte recipe is gluten free and dairy free so everyone can enjoy it!).
3. Forgetting to preheat the oven
You've greased and lined your tin, made your cake mixture but just as you go to open the oven door, you realise you've forgotten to preheat the oven! It's a mistake to leave your cake mixture sitting around, so make sure turning on the oven is the first thing you do when you start baking.
4. Not creaming eggs and sugar enough
Use an electric whisk on its slowest speed to start, then pick up the speed to get a pale mixture that's light and fluffy. Don't skimp here, as it's very important to get air into the mixture. You can use a wooden spoon, but it will take longer - and make sure the butter is softened before you start (see 1).
5. Tapping the bowl with a spoon
You've finished carefully folding your mixture together and with a feeling of satisfaction, you tap the metal spoon on the side of the bowl to get the last of the mixture off it. Unfortunately, this is a surefire way to knock air out of the mixture and undo all your good work.
6. Opening the oven too early
You're doing your best impression of a Bake Off contestant and crouching by the oven to see how your cake is looking... Resist the urge to open the oven door to take a look. You will regret it when your cake sinks in the middle.
7. Overwhipping cream
One minute it's light and soft, the next it's grainy and curdled. This means you've overwhipped the cream - it can happen in a split second! Save it by adding a few tablespoons of fresh cream and whisking it in by hand.
Have you got baking tips? Share them on woman&home's Facebook page or tweet us using @womanandhome #inthetestkitchen.
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