So I'm New To Baking

Posted on 07/20/2012 by encircleme
I mean, I've dabbled and made some cookies, cakes and cupcakes here and there, but I'm really a culinary-not pastry-chef. To rectify my lack of baking skills I've been making a cake a week. Last week was a chocolate cake with a southern-style vanilla buttercream. Turns out, I hate southern-style buttercream since it really just tastes like creamed butter. Also, it turns out I suck at applying frosting and piping anything. Really, I'm awful.

Today I got a bit better with the frosting application! I made a white cake with a lemon Swiss Merengue Buttercream with a raspberry buttercream filling! I think my cake is adorable. Too bad I won't know how it tastes until late Saturday/early Sunday.

While I'm here, any tried and true tips for getting a level cake out of the oven? I already use the wilton bake strips you soak in water and wrap around the pans. Or tips on how to slice it level? Do you brush it with sugar syrup after you slice it?

It's not perfect but I'm getting better. Plus the consistency of this buttercream was way easier to work with than the first buttercream.
kamaliitaru 21st-Jul-2012 07:29 am (UTC)
Looks tasty!
encircleme 21st-Jul-2012 07:30 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm really proud of it!
pashte_chan 21st-Jul-2012 07:30 am (UTC)
It is cute! :D
encircleme 21st-Jul-2012 07:32 am (UTC)
Thanks! =D
bloodofareptile 21st-Jul-2012 08:25 am (UTC)
My favorite device for levelling cakes is.... dental floss. Wrap around cake, cross itself, pull - voila!

I don't brush it with syrup unless the cake is either known to be dry or will not be served for a few days.

As for getting them to come out level, my main tip is to make sure you grease the sides well to ensure the batter can separate from the side as it's baking.
encircleme 21st-Jul-2012 08:35 am (UTC)
I grease and flour the pans really well, I'm going to try using parchment as well next time.
frenchroast 21st-Jul-2012 04:53 pm (UTC)
Dental floss is great for cutting cinnamon buns, too. Also, I put a square of parchment in the bottom of the cake pan, you don't have to worry about chunks of it sticking to the pan. I don't bother with fitting it to the whole pan because it's too bothersome, and not really necessary.

Seconding the not bothering with syrup thing. If you are going to do the syrup, then I'd do it after leveling it.
sekerofgodfire 21st-Jul-2012 03:51 pm (UTC)
Another thing you can do to get level cakes out of the oven is to rotate the pan halfway through baking.

One thing I do to slice evenly is to just make sure the knife is straight and hold it perfectly still to carve a small guiding line before slicing.
simplykimberly 21st-Jul-2012 05:16 pm (UTC)
Take a flower nail, and put it in the middle of the batter before baking - pointy side up. It'll even out the temperature in the middle of the pan, and it will rise at nearly the same rate as the edges. When you remove the cake, you'll have to pull the flower nail out from the bottom, and there will be a slight indent there, and a hole, but it won't be noticeable at all when the cake is put together. Seriously, this works like magic! Flat cake!
simplykimberly 21st-Jul-2012 05:20 pm (UTC)
oh look! Someone has written a nice little photo-tutorial for this :) It really does work. Tried and true, for me.
tsuki_no_bara 21st-Jul-2012 05:58 pm (UTC)
i can't help with getting a cake to come out flat on top - my kitchen floor slants which means my oven slants which means everything i bake in it has a good chance of coming out uneven - but your lemon frosted cake there is adorable! it looks yummy, too.
annabelle_blue 21st-Jul-2012 06:24 pm (UTC)
Great cake!

I've used the dental floss trick and it has been okay for me. I just went to a store that carries baking items (any place with Wilton like a JoAnn or what have you) and got a cake leveler for about $3.00. It is a wire device that has grooves for what level you want it. Then just pull it and it levels off the cake.
encircleme 21st-Jul-2012 07:14 pm (UTC)
Oh I like this since every cake I've ever tried to level via serrated knife ends up with a big lean to the left.
sara_k_s 21st-Jul-2012 09:46 pm (UTC)
This. It is practically foolproof. The one trick to it is to start on one side and go about 75% of the way, then slide the leveler out and switch it to the other side for the rest.
merlynspen 22nd-Jul-2012 02:34 pm (UTC)
Second the cake leveler. So easy, and with the grooves you can adjust the wire to any level needed.
xdarkstarx 22nd-Jul-2012 06:50 pm (UTC)
I just started using the homemade version of the Wilton cake strips (cut long strips of a bath towel about the same width as your pan, soak in water, wrap around pan and tuck edges in) and they work like absolute magic! I've heard less than glowing reviews of the Wilton strips, so maybe try making your own?

laurbles 23rd-Jul-2012 01:21 am (UTC)
Wow, this sounds/looks really delicious!
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