Cake Baking FAQ's
We've grouped together some of the most commonly asked...
We've grouped together some of the commonly asked cake baking questions in to one article to help you get the perfect sponge! Baking takes a lot of practise especially when trying new recipes, using substitutions and perfecting your cake - even our bakers can make mistakes so don't worry if something doesn't work the first time round.
1) Do I have to use unsalted butter or can I use regular salted butter instead?
For buttercream we use a 50/50 split as the salt helps to bring out the flavour but too much salt and it can be overpowering.
2) What is the difference between plain flour and self-raising flour?
Self-raising flour has raising agents in. Perfect for making a Sponge!
3) How can I stop my cakes sticking to the tin?
We recommend lightly greasing the tins & using silicone paper
4) How can I tell if my cake is ready to come out the oven?
Lightly press the surface to see if it springs back and/or insert a probe and if it comes out clean the sponge cake is ready.
5) Why does my cake keep cracking on the top?
When the oven is too hot it can lead to cracking, as the cake has baked too quickly.
6) Can I make my own buttermilk?
Buttermilk is a slightly sour milk and is usually much lower in fat than regular milk and cream. Yes you can make your own buttermilk:
Use Milk. Pour the milk into a liquid measuring cup.
For every 200ml of milk, stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar (apple cider vinegar works well)
Ready to Use! The acid will curdle the milk slightly
7) Why is the middle of my cake caving in the middle?
Here are some of the most common reasons cakes fall in the middle:
Incorrect oven temperature
Under baking the cake
Expired baking powder
Too much baking powder or baking soda
Incorrect measurement of ingredients
Opening the oven door too early
Closing the oven door too sharply
Overbeating the batter in the last stage
Mixing the ingredients in the wrong order
Cooling the cake too quickly
Batter sitting too long before baking
8) Why won’t my icing set properly?
Try Another Butter
The suspect here may just be the butter you're using ... or not using. If you're using margarine to shave off a few calories or grams of fat, your buttercream will likely disintegrate into a sloppy mess. Margarine generally contains a higher ratio of water than butter, so there's a lot less fat to give buttercream the structure it needs. The same goes for vegan butter alternatives. Even the regular butter you're using might need swapping.
Let Your Cakes Cool
Sometimes you'll get sloppy buttercream simply because you haven't let your cakes cool down enough before frosting them. The heat inside the cakes rises up and starts to melt your buttercream, so don't rush to frost them when they come out of the oven. Give them a chance to cool completely.
Add More Sugar
You might just need more confectioner's sugar (or powdered or icing sugar) in your buttercream. Not adding enough can lead to sloppy or wet-looking buttercream. Sift a little more sugar in, and make sure to taste-test as you go. Remember that you'll want to taste equal amounts of butter and sugar in your buttercream.
9) Can I freeze my cakes?
Yes, Sponge cakes are brilliant for freezing!
10) Why hasn't my cake risen?
This can be due to a number of factors such as:
Forgot the raising agent
Ingredients not fully combined
Didn’t beat the eggs enough
Over beaten the mix, too much air has been knocked out of the mix
11) Do I need to refrigerate my cake?
Sponge should be eaten at room temperature and keeping them in the fridge is a common mistake – a refrigerated sponge makes the sponge taste dry & the butter icing hard and unappealing. Some sponge cakes that have cream cheese frosting or fresh cream do need to be kept in the fridge but those that use buttercream like ours do not need to be refrigerated.
12) What is Xanthan Gum and what does it do?
The gluten found in wheat flour plays an important role in the texture of our familiar baked goods. A fine white powder, xanthan is a bio-gum produced by the fermentation of sugars with a friendly bacteria called Xanthomonas Campestris. When absent, as in gluten-free flour, baking results sometimes don’t live up to our expectations. Xanthan gum, when added in small amounts to gluten-free flours, can bind and add stability in gluten-free baking.
We hope our answers and tips help! Let us know how you get on with your cake baking! :)