We always do homemade birthday cakes at our house. Growing up, we had homemade cakes and I learned how to make them at a young age. I love cake and frosting and it's so fun for me to get to make a special cake for the birthday person! I also like to be treated on my birthday. When Ruth was born, 12 days before my birthday, my mom made my favorite oatmeal spice cake for my birthday that year and brought it over. I like taking the day "off" when it's my birthday. ;)
Now that we have 5 kids of our own (!!), we get to do lots of birthday cakes every year. This week is our 11th wedding anniversary and Joshua and I just made our favorite two-layer chocolate cake for the special day! :)
Now, even though I make cakes, I am no expert. I don't do anything too fancy, and I've had my fair share of cake and frosting disasters. Here are a few things I've learned:
1. Make the cake a day ahead of time. This allows plenty of time for the cake to cool before frosting, and makes the special day much more relaxing when you don't have to get up early to start a cake, or rush around at the last minute getting it finished up! And of course for cheesecakes, they're really top notch at about 24 hours after coming out of the oven.
2. Make the frosting when you're ready to apply it. I have made frosting "ahead" and when I went to spread it, it was stiff and all the light fluffy airy bubbles "stirred down" and the frosting wasn't as good. For best results, I've found it's a good idea to put it on the cake as soon as it's made.
3. Find a good recipe and follow it. This is especially, especially important for the frosting part. Softened butter means softened butter, not half-melted butter or chopped up cold butter.
4. For a perfect frosting, use powdered sugar from the store (and a good recipe). I've tried making homemade powdered sugar for frosting, first in a regular blender (disaster!!) and then in our newly-purchased VitaMix blender. I really thought the powdered sugar from the VitaMix would be fine enough for frosting but still, it made a gritty frosting.
If any of you have made amazingly perfect frosting with homemade powdered sugar, tell me your secret! I can't stand even a hint of grittiness in my frostings...
5. For 2-layer cakes or cake rolls, line the pan(s) with parchment paper or waxed paper to make it easier to remove. I've been using parchment paper (purchased from Costco, of course!) and don't need to grease or flour it.
6. Make an easy 2-layer rectangular cake by using a half sheet pan (13"x18") and cutting the finished cake in half, stacking the halves. Since I don't have many (any) fancy cake pans, this method works great for me.
Any more cake tips? Share with me! :)
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2. Perfectly shaped drop biscuits (Feel Good About Dinner)
3. Using up eggs (Recipes Happen)
4. Peeling garlic quickly (Anne Jisca's Healthy Pursuits)