cupcakes How to Bake Cakes Almost Perfectly
Cakes–Timing ...For most baked goods–but especially cakes–it is best to set the timer for a few minutes less than directed in the recipe—different ovens or even different positions in the oven bake differently. A dark pan bakes more quickly than a light pan. When you find your cake not quite done and want to continue baking, set the timer for three or four minutes and check again.
A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake will come out clean when done. “Clean” means a few crumbs. If there is wet looking batter clinging to the toothpick, it’s not done.
If you don’t want to poke a hole in the center of the cake, check for doneness with your finger. There should be some resiliency to the touch and the cake should spring back. When done, the cake will usually have a golden-brown color to the top though different recipes will brown more or less quickly. When done, the cake will tend to pull away from the edges.
Quick Breads ...Quick breads are basically cakes in a loaf pan. The same tests that you use on cakes can be used with quick breads. Stick the toothpick or skewer right in an open crack in the center of the bread. The area under that crack seems to be the last area in the loaf to set up.
Incidentally, quick breads release from the pan easier if left to cool for few minutes before removing. Because of the larger mass, a loaf does not dry out as quickly as cookies do.
Once the loaves have cooled, wrap them and store them in refrigerator. Quick breads are less crumbly usually best the second day.
Custard Pies ...Custard pies—including pumpkin pies—are a special problem. It takes quite a while for the protein in the eggs to set and make the pie firm. Often, the crust is becoming too brown before the eggs set. If so, cover the crust with strips of aluminum foil to retard further browning.
When a custard pie is done, a knife inserted in the center of the pie will come out clean. If you don’t want a cut mark in the center of your pie, use the jiggle test. Pick the pie up with two hot pads or mitts and gently shake the pie back and forth. If done, all but the center should be firm—there will be a little jiggle in the center. The center will continue to cook and firm up after you remove the pie from the oven.
We hope these guidelines help. With practice and observation, you’ll soon become very proficient at judging when your bread or cookies are baked to perfection. Your baked goods will then be irresistible. Dennis Weaver, Prepared Pantry