Baking Cakes

There are basically two categories of cakes:

Shortening-type cakes contain shortening, margarine, or butter along with flour, eggs, a liquid, and a leavening agent, such as baking powder or soda. Shortening cakes are the basic white, yellow, chocolate, and pound cakes. A good shortening-type cake has:

Foam-type cakes depend on the air beaten into egg whites for lightness. Examples of foam cakes are angel food, sponge, and chiffon.

There is another kind of cake, called a torte. A European torte is a rich cake make without flour. It contains bread crumbs and/or ground nuts instead of the flour along with eggs, sugar, and flavorings; fruit fillings or cream generally are spread between two to six layers of the torte. A torte can also refer to a tradional multi-layered cake.

Cutting Cakes

Storing Cakes
Before storing, be sure cake is completely cool; they will become sticky if covered while warm. It takes approximately 2 hours for a cake to cool completely.

Cakes should be stored in a container with a tight cover, but if a regular cake keeper is not available, invert a large bowl over the cake to keep it fresh and moist for several days. Cakes can be stored in the refrigerator, too, and likewise covered well. All cakes containing dairy products, including cream cheese, in the filling or frosting must be refrigerated.

For frosted cakes, the storage method depends on the type of frosting on the cake.

Freezing Cakes
Cakes can be frozen either frosted or unfrosted.

A good freezer packaging method:

Thawing Cakes
The best method to thaw a cake depends on whether the cake is:

What can you do with leftover egg whites?

Frosting and Glazes
The following characteristics make up a good frosting:

Cakes baked in fluted or plain tube pans, such as angel food, chiffon, or pound cakes, are often glazed. A glaze should be thin enough to pour or drizzle but not so thin that it runs off the cake.

Special Hints for Frosting

How to Frost a Two Layer Cake

  1. Brush loose crumbs from the sides of cooled cake layers.
  2. Place one cake layer rounded side down on a serving plate. To keep the serving plate clean, arrange four strips of waxed paper under the edge of the cake layer.
  3. Evenly spread approximately 1/3 cup frosting to within 1/2-inch of edge.
  4. Place second cake layer, rounded side up, on the frosted layer.
  5. Spread sides of cake with a very thin layer of frosting to seal in crumbs. Use approximately 2/3 of remaining frosting to spread a thick layer over the sides; use upward strokes. Make a rim approximately 1/4-inch high around the top.
  6. Spread remaining frosting over the top of the cake, just to the built up rim.
  7. Carefully remove waxed paper strips.

How to Glaze a Cake

  1. Brush loose crumbs from the sides of the cooled cake.
  2. Place the cake rounded-side down on a serving plate.
  3. Pour or spoon a small amount of glaze on top of the cake.
  4. Spread glaze, allowing some to drizzle unevenly down the sides of the cake.
  5. Repeat the above steps until all glaze is used.

Alternatives to Frosting and Glazing

Cakes do not have to be frosted or glazed. There are other easy cake decorations that can be used instead.

For a printer-friendly version of the Trouble-Shooting Cakes chart, click on the icon to download.
Note: Must have Acrobat Reader.

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