Baking Tips

Accurate Measuring

Always sift Swans Down Cake Flour once first, then spoon into measuring cup for desired amount. Using one large measuring cup can be the least accurate way to measure. Slight variations in amount can impact the outcome of baked products. For precise measuring of flour, we recommend using amount specific (dry) measuring cups (i.e. ¼, ?, ½, or 1 cup). Either scoop sifted flour up with measuring cup and remove excess by scraping straight edged utensil across top or lightly spoon into measuring cup and scrape excess away.

Angel Food Cake

Use only metal or glass mixing bowls when making Angel Food Cake. Plastic or ceramic bowls retain oils which will disturb the rising process. When beating egg whites try not to under beat or over beat, egg whites should be stiff but not dry. To prevent airpockets, after filling your angel food cake pan with batter simply use your spatula to press batter into sides and bottom of pan. Or you can cut through batter with a knife to remove air bubbles.

Assemble Ingredients and ensure their correct temperature

Get all of your ingredients and equipment out on the counter before you begin and make sure they're at the proper temperature. This is especially important for butter and eggs: Soft butter makes for a smooth batter and a lofty cake and room-temperature eggs keep the batter's temperature consistent. To soften butter, leave it out for several hours; it should offer no resistance when you press on it.

Baking Ahead of Time

A baked cake can be stored in the freezer up to six weeks. Wrap cooled, unfrosted layers individually in plastic wrap, then foil; place inside zip-top plastic bag. To Thaw: Remove zip-top plastic bag; leave in foil & plastic wrap. Allow 3-6 hours to thaw. Once cake is almost thawed, remove foil & plastic wrap, place on plate, cover in air tight container; frost once thawed.

Checking Cookie Doneness

Even a minute of baking time can make a great difference to your cookies. Always check for doneness a minute or two before the stated bake time and check often.Non-stick baking sheets with not too dark a finish are generally a good choice.

Choosing Cookie Sheets

If you use non-stick baking sheets, watch carefully or your cookies may brown quickly. Shiny aluminum sheets will tend to produce soft-bottomed crusts with more even browning. Dark carbon-steel sheets will absorb heat and create crisp crusts. To prevent your cookies from burning, choose thick baking sheets

Converting Swans Down Cake Flour to self-rising cake Flour

Sift Swans Down Cake Flour once then measure 1 cup and add ½ tsp. baking powder and ¼ tsp. salt = 1 cup self-rising cake flour. (Double for 2 cups, triple for 3 cups, and so on.)

Cookies

Always cool baking sheets between batches of cookies.

Cooling Cakes

Remove cake from oven. Let cool 10-15 minutes in pan then invert onto wire rack until completely cool.

Creaming

Cream butter, sugar and eggs then beat until the mixture is smooth light, and fluffy. This makes a fine texture in cakes.

Crispy Cookies

By substituting a few tablespoons of corn syrup for the same amount of sugar, using butter instead of shortening or by substituting eggs with milk, water, or cream will result in a crisper cookie.

Cutting Layer Cakes

For best results use a long, sharp, thin knife.

Cutting Pound Cakes

For best results use a long serrated knife and clean your knife after each slice.

Eggs

Always use large eggs unless a recipe calls for otherwise. Check for freshness by cracking eggs individually into another bowl before adding to other ingredients.

Evenly Baked Cookies

Set oven rack so it is in the middle of the oven. Always preheat your oven and be sure the oven temperature is accurate and set correctly by using an oven thermometer.

Expired Flour

Flour has a limited shelf life and the natural oils in the flour can turn rancid past its shelf life. All ingredients need to be fresh to ensure proper baking & flavorful taste.

Follow the Recipe

Always use the ingredients a recipe calls for. Don't substitute or alter. Remember, recipes are developed and tested with certain definite ingredients and instructions. Doing so may change the character of your baked good and you will fail to get the success you hoped for.

Frosting Cakes

Before frosting any cake, you should let it cool completely for at least 4 hours. Otherwise, your frosting may turn runny. The only exception is if the recipe explicitly directs you to do so.

Glass Pans

Unless your recipe specifically calls for glass, lower your oven temperature by 25°. Glass heats more quickly and retains its heat longer.

Golden, Delicate, Coffee Cakes

You'll have a golden, delicate and tender crust if you bake your coffee cake in a shiny metal pan. Such pans reflect the heat in the necessary way to produce such delectable results.

Ingredients

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

Making Do With One Cookie Sheet

In you only have one cookie sheet, line it with foil before baking the cookies. After baking, slide the foil off the pan and set the cookies to cool on a rack. Rinse your pan under cold running water and pat dry. Re-foil and lay your next batch of cookies on the sheet.

Measuring Ingredients

Measure each ingredient accurately. Use standard measuring cups and spoons and level measurements of ingredients in all recipes. Even very small inaccuracies may change the balance or proportion.

Metal Pans

Shiny metal pans reflect heat and give cakes a golden, tender crust. Shiny aluminum baking sheets tend to make soft bottom cookies while dark sheets may brown faster, creating a crisp crust.

Mixing

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.

No Mess Frosting

To keep your cake plate neat while you apply frosting, place four pieces of waxed paper under the edges of the bottom layer. After you frost, carefully slide the waxed paper out and away.

Oven

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

Oven 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.

Over Mixing

Prolonged mixing may cause loss of air or leavening gas and make cakes more compact and heavy with tunnels.

Packaging Cookies For Freezing

Line an airtight container with plastic wrap then layer cookies in the container between sheets of waxed paper. Place another sheet of waxed paper on top so cookies will avoid contact with ice crystals. Seal the container with a tight-fitting lid.

Pans

Always use the right size pan. If it's too small, the cake will spill over the sides when it rises and if it's too big, it won't rise properly. If you substitute pans, make sure the volume measure stays the same.

Placing Pans in Oven

Place pans as close to the center of the oven as possible, leaving room for heat circulation between pans.

Placing Racks in Oven

Avoid burning your cake by setting a rack in the middle of the oven for cake layers or in the lower third for a tube cake so that the top of the pan is not too close to the top of the oven.

Preheating Oven

Always preheat your oven to the correct temperature. Before preparing the batter, your oven should be at the correct temperature. A batter will not react properly to heat if it sits at room temperature for 10 minutes waiting for the oven to heat. Nor will it rise properly if the oven continues to warm up after the pan has been placed in it. Heat oven beforehand to ensure a steady heat at the right temperature.

Preparing Cookie Sheets

Don't grease sheets unless recipe calls for you to do so, extra fat can cause cookies to bake unevenly. Instead line baking sheet with parchment paper. To keep parchment paper flat on pan, put a small dab of dough on each corner of baking sheet.

Preparing Pans

Grease, or don't grease, as the recipe tells you. Butter is generally preferred, it gives a richer flavor. Coat with flour rotating the pan until all surfaces are covered, discard excess flour. Your recipe may also call for lining the bottom of the pan with waxed paper. Also available is non-stick cooking sprays with and without butter/flour to help prevent sticking.

Preserving Fresh Fruit

Dip fresh fruit in diluted lemon juice to keep it looking fresh longer.

Prevent Cakes From Sticking

For extra insurance against sticking fit bottom of pan with a piece of waxed or parchment paper.

Read Through the Recipe

This sounds obvious but cakes in particular have specific requirements, such as the temperature of ingredients that cannot be altered. You don't want to realize too late that the butter you just mixed with sugar was supposed to be softened.

Results

Always measure accurately and bake according to directions. Remember, baking a cake is an exact process and precision is rewarded with perfect results.

Room Temperature

For better results refrigerated ingredients such as eggs and butter should be brought to room temperature before baking.

Separating Eggs

It is easier to separate eggs if they are cold. Egg whites will beat to a greater volume at room temperature.

Sifting

Sifting cake flour is one of the most important secrets to perfect baking. Sifting removes lumps and aerates flour so it incorporates easily into batters. Sift the flour and spoon into measuring cup, then level off making sure not to pack the flour. Always sift Swans Down Cake Flour unless the recipe specifically calls for unsifted.

Storing Batter

Batter does not store well. For best results, you should bake your cake immediately after you mix the batter.

Storing Cake Flour

Flour has a limited shelf life and should be kept cool, dry and airtight. Store airtight to prevent it from absorbing moisture and odors and from attracting insects and rodents. Do not store near soap powder, onions or other foods and products with strong odors. If stored in freezer; double wrap and package in an airtight, moisture-proof container and label with expiration date. If stored in refrigerator; store airtight so it will not absorb any odors in refrigerator. Be sure to bring flour to room temperature prior to mixing with other ingredients.

Storing Cookie Dough

Portion cookie dough into a 10 inch long by 2 ½ inch round log, wrap securely in parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place wrapped cookie dough log into a re-sealable freezer bag for a double wrap to ensure quality, label with date and recipe name for up to one month. To bake: remove from freezer and let thaw for a few minutes while oven is pre-heating. Slice according to size preferred; dough can be partially frozen and may just take a minute or two longer to bake.

Storing Cookies

You can store cookies in an airtight container for a maximum of three to four months in the freezer. Store your crisp cookies in a container separate from your soft cookies because they need different environments to stay fresh. You should store your crisp cookies between sheets of waxed paper in a loosely covered container. Whereas, soft cookies should be stored in an airtight container so they stay moist and chewy.

Storing Egg Whites

Egg whites can be stored in your refrigerator for up to one week or frozen for up to three months.

Storing Frosted Cake

Wrap in plastic wrap, then foil, and place inside of re-sealable plastic bag. To thaw, unwrap & place in refrigerator overnight in airtight container to avoid absorbing any odors.

Storing Leftover Cake

Cut into individual pieces, wrap well in heavy foil and freeze for up to six weeks.

Storing Unfrosted Cake

Wrap cooled layers individually in plastic wrap, then foil; place inside zip-top plastic bag. To thaw, remove zip-top plastic bag; leave in foil and plastic wrap. Allow 3-6 hours to thaw. Once cake is almost thawed, remove foil and plastic and place on a plate and cover in an airtight container; frost once thawed.

Testing for Doneness

Cake starts to pull away from sides of pan. Top springs back when lightly touched. A long tester (strand of spaghetti works great) inserted into middle of cake comes out clean and dry.

Under Mixing

Not enough mixing gives improper blending of ingredients and causes uneven grain, and sometimes a streak at bottom of cake.

Uniform Baking

Spread your batter evenly for uniform baking, thickness and texture.

Use the Right Size Pan

If the pan is too small, the cake will spill over the sides when it rises. If it is too big, it won't rise properly. If you substitute pans, make sure the volume measure stays the same.

Using Swans Down Cake Flour in place of all-purpose flour

For each cup of all purpose flour in a recipe; sift Swans Down Cake Flour once then measure 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (Double for 2 cups, triple for 3 cups, and so on.)

Baking tips from bakers like you:
  • Reduce your clean up time by lining pans with aluminum foil.
  • Always use large eggs unless a recipe calls for otherwise.  Check for freshness by cracking eggs individually into another bowl before adding to other ingredients.
  • If you don't have a  metal cake tester try using a strand of uncooked spaghetti.