Baking a cake may seem intimidating to most people but it really is not. All you need is a little creativity, patience and skill to master the task. It will prove not only to be fun but very therapeutic.
Having the right kitchen tools can make the experience more enjoyable. The proper mixer is a worthwhile investment as it will make the baking experience much easier. The advantages to owning this type of kitchen equipment are worth the higher price. Mixing batters by hand or by using a hand held mixer may not always get the batter to the desired consistency. Good quality cake pans are equally important as they help to ensure that the heat is distributed evenly throughout the cake. A lesser quality cake pan may not achieve the desired result. Cloth foil wraps are needed to wrap around the cake pan. They typically cost twenty dollars for a pair and are an important part of the baking process. The cloth foil wraps will keep the cake from rising unevenly while baking in the pan. As for the hand utensils, common measuring cups, measuring spoons, rubber spatulas and mixing bowls found in any household kitchen are acceptable. A roll of parchment paper will be needed to line the cake pans. Cooling racks are also needed to place the hot cake pans on a counter top to cool after baking.
The most common ingredients needed to bake a cake are typical items found in almost any household. They consist of cake flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, eggs, milk and vanilla extract. There are substitutes for some of these ingredients if the original ingredients are not readily available. Another reason for using substitutes is one’s desire to bake a cake that is lower in calories, sugar or fat for a healthy alternative. Some common substitute ingredients would be whole wheat flour blend or gluten free flour, artificial sweeteners or apple sauce and non-dairy or low fat milk.
Understanding the personal diet restrictions of the people whom intend to eat the cake is a very important step in the cake baking process. Sometimes it is necessary to substitute the ingredients to accommodate the diet restrictions of people with diabetes, gluten allergies or lactose intolerance. Diabetics cannot enjoy a cake using normal ingredients such as cake flour and granulated sugar. Substituting a wheat flour blend and artificial sweetener ensures that a diabetic will not have any health consequences as a result of eating the cake. Also it will benefit a diabetic if non-dairy milk is used. Most people are not aware that dairy based milk can elevate a person’s blood sugar level. A person with a gluten intolerance cannot eat regular cake. There are more substitutions required for gluten intolerant person than a diabetic. Required ingredients could include: white rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, gluten free baking powder, gluten free vanilla, and xanthan gum. Some of the ingredients may need to be purchased at a health food store.
To enjoy a slice of cake but avoid uncomfortable symptoms of lactose intolerance regular milk and butter would not be the ingredients to use. Changes that could be made to a recipe would be using rice flour, dairy or soy free shortening, almond or rice milk, and dairy free margarine. All of these substitutes can make a difference to the person enjoying the cake that was baked. There are a variety of tools to decorate and personalize your cake, from cake coverings such as fondant to specialized decorating elements, including gum paste and molding chocolate. Many of these require sophisticated skills, but many others such as, edible glitter and sprinkles can be applied successfully by any baker with an eye for color. There are other simple products that can be used in conjunction with edible glitter and sprinkles to achieve professional looking results.
Pre-made royal icing or gum paste flowers, for example, can be added to the cake with just a touch of butter cream. Royal icing flowers usually come in different colors, but gum paste flowers may need to be painted. There are different edible paints for cake decorating and most are simple to apply. Edible spray paint is very simple and will give the cake a professional touch that can be achieved by most. Using edible paints and luster dust on gum paste flowers can create a beautiful piece for the cake. Also, choosing the appropriate colors for the frosting can customize the cake for any occasion. This can be achieved with gel paste which comes in a rainbow of colors. There are so many ways one could decorate a cake and make it look as if they bought it from a store.
In conclusion, when baking a cake the idea is to have fun and enjoy the whole experience including eating the delicious treat that you’ve created. Having the proper kitchen tools and utensils will ensure that the cake itself is mixed and baked properly. Since most of the ingredients are common to most households, the opportunity to make a delicious dessert is almost at your fingertips. Knowing the personal requirements of the people that you are baking for is important because it will dictate the ingredients needed to please the crowd. Don’t be intimidated, have fun, get a little creative and go for it!