Baking Tips

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Six Steps to Success

A reliable tested recipe

When investing time and money into baking you should always use a recipe that is tested and reliable. Never change the original directions and use only the ingredients listed on the recipe. Often the failure of a baked item is due to improper substitutions or altered directions.

All Swans down recipes are tested and we guarantee they will be to your satisfaction.

Accurate measuring

Accurate measuring is very important. Measure each ingredient exactly. Use standard measuring cups and spoons and level measurements of ingredients for all recipes. Even very small inaccuracies may change the balance or proportion.

For accurate measuring of liquids, be sure that the measuring cup is set on a level surface . Under measuring of liquid makes a too stiff batter and results in humped cakes that are dry and "bready". Too much liquid may cause heavy streaks in the bottom of the cake, or sogginess.

To measure dry ingredients, fill standard measuring cup or spoon then level off with spatula or straight edge of a knife.

Careful preparation

Always preheat oven before you start and make sure oven is heated to correct temperature before using.

Prepare pans before mixing the cake. Grease, or don't grease, as the recipe tells you. Butter is generally preferred because it gives a good flavor. Also available is non-stick cooking sprays, with and without butter, that contain flour to help prevent sticking.

5 basic cake mixing steps
Cream butter or shortening
Add sugar, cream well
Add flour and liquid alternately. Beat mixture until smooth after each addition.
Add eggs to batter, beat mixture thoroughly.
Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. If the corners of the pan are not filled, the cake may burn at these edges and will be uneven in shape.
Mixing - Beating and Folding
The beating motion is made briskly and lifts the batter over and over with a spoon or electric mixer - thus continually bringing up the batter to the surface. This is the best way to incorporate air into the mixture.
Folding is the motion made by gently cutting up and down through the mixture and curving up and over. This encloses the air and prevents the escape of that already beaten into the mixture.
Do not over mix. Too prolonged mixing may cause loss of air or leavening gas and make cake more compact and heavy with tunnels. Under mixing gives improper blending of ingredients and causes uneven grain, and sometimes a streak at bottom of cake.

Fine ingredients

Choose fine ingredients if you want fine baking. Be sure all your ingredients are strictly fresh and of the best quality.

Use ingredients that the recipes call for. Don't substitute. Remember that recipes are developed and tested with certain definite ingredients. If you change the ingredients you may also change the character of your baked good and fail to get the success you hoped for.
Flour
Use Swans Down Cake Flour for quality baking. Swans Down has a delicate gluten.
All flours contain gluten. Swans Down is made from soft red winter wheat. This wheat, unlike hard wheat, contains only a small amount of very tender, pliable gluten. A gluten so delicate that it responds perfectly to quick cake leavens. It is this fine gluten which permits the perfect rising and makes extra lightness and delicate texture in baking.
Swans Down is milled for extra fineness and uniformity. After the choicest part of the wheat kernels have been selected for Swans Down, they are ground and reground, sifted and re- sifted - over and over again, through fine silken sieves -until it is 27 times as fine as ordinary flour. It take 100 pounds of soft winter wheat to make 26 pounds of Swans Down. This unbeatable fineness combined with the tender gluten of the flour is what gives Swans Down cakes that fine, even, grain.
Always use exact amount of flour called for in a recipe. Flour tends to pack while standing, so always sift once before measuring. Then lift sifted flour lightly with spoon into standard measuring cup and level off with straight edge on a knife.
Baking Powder
The usual proportion is 1 teaspoon baking powder to one cup of sifted flour but always use the exact amount of baking powder called for in your recipe. This amount specified gives the best results in texture, grain and lightness.
As soon as you add liquid to the baking powder action begins. This starts the leavening properly. But only part of the gas is released in the mixing bowl. The second action starts when it feels the heat of the oven. Then it continues the leavening steadily - evenly - all through the baking, gently lifting the cake and holding it high and light.
Shortening/Butter
For the finest flavor, use butter. If substituting unsalted, add more salt (about double the amount the recipe calls for).
When creaming butter warm bowl first (not hot). Do not melt butter, as this makes coarse-grained cakes. For best results in creaming butter, let it remain at room temperature for several hours before using.
To measure butter, press firmly into standard measuring spoon or cup and pack tightly. Level off top. With stick butter, 1 pound (4 sticks) equals 2 cups; ¼ pound (1 stick) equals ½ cup.
Not enough butter makes tough, course-grained cakes. While too much makes cake greasy and crumbly, and may cause cake to fall.
Sugars
Too much sugar makes coarse crumbly cakes, with a crust that is cracked, and gummy. It may also cause cake to fall.
Cake without enough sugar is undersized, dry, tough and heavy, with a smooth hard crust that does not brown easily.
Sugar helps to make cake light and tender. When creamed with the shortening/butter it gives fine texture.
Granulated Sugar
Use fine sugar for cakes. Use the exact amount called for in the recipe. If sugar is lumpy, sift before measuring.
Brown Sugar
In measuring brown sugar, pack it firmly into the cup so firmly that it holds it shape when turned out.
Brown sugar in cakes is likely to make a heavier crust and slightly coarser texture than fine granulated sugar.
Powdered Sugar
Contains less moisture than granulated sugar and make cakes with a closer grain and more compact texture. Powdered sugar is not often used for cakes.
Eggs
When using eggs, for any type of cooking, it is always wise to crack the egg into a separate dish before adding to your other ingredients.
Egg whites help to make cake light and feathery. That's because a lot of air can be enclosed in them when beating. For best results in beating eggs, remove them from refrigerator several hours before using.
Egg yolks help make a cake fine grained. They contain a large amount of fat. Too many egg yolks, or unbeaten egg yolks may make a cake heavy and soggy, or cause a compact streak to form at the bottom.
Liquids
Various liquids may be used satisfactorily in cake making - sweet or sour milk and cream, buttermilk, water, or fruit. Evaporated and condensed milk and milk powders are all used, but fresh milk is the standard liquid for delicate cakes.

Proper baking

It pays to follow the baking directions given in each recipe carefully. Adjust oven temperature as specified and bake the length of time called for.

Most cakes should be baked as close to the center of the oven as possible, leaving room for air circulation between pans.

The oven should be heated early enough to give you a steady heat - at the right temperature.

Test your oven regularly for accuracy. A portable oven thermometer is great. It tells you the exact temperature of the oven and makes it possible to adjust the heat accurately.

How to know when your cake is done
Cake should have risen to its full height and have a delicate brown crust.
Cake should have shrunk slightly away from the sides of the pan.
Surface of the cake, when presses lightly with finger, should spring back and leave no imprint.
When cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean and dry.

The crowning touch

There's an artistry in the frosting of a lovely cake. It adds charm and flavor. But before you add the frosting you must follow this simple rules. Remove cake from oven. Let cool 5 minutes in pan then invert onto wire rack until completely cool and brush away loose crumbs.

Butter Frostings are just one of many different frosting that you can use. They are uncooked and easy to make. These frostings are made by creaming butter, sifted confectioners sugar and some liquid such as milk, cream or fruit juice to make a soft creamy consistency that will spread easily.

Visit our Recipe section for many delicious cake and frosting recipes.

Happy Baking!!