Tips & Tricks of the Trade
Have a good baking or decorating tip you want to share? Let me know and I'll try to post it here.
Tip to make cake crumb coating your cakes easy- Bake and cool cake. Once completely cool, go ahead level and tort the cake. Wrap each layer separately in plastic wrap, place on cake board. Place wrapped cakes in a zip type bag and put in freezer until needed. When ready to frost, partially thaw, then ice the crumb coat while cake is still firm. Makes the crumb coat process much easier.
Want a really moist cake or cupcakes? I've found that if you allow your cake/cupcakes to cool for 10 minutes and then immediately wrap in plastic wrap, place in a zip bag and freeze- once thawed, you will have a delightfully moist cake. The science behind this technique is as your cake cools, the moisture evaporates. By wrapping it while still warm, you lock the moisture in and freezing creates ice crystals that provide moisture as the cake thaws.
To keep cakes from sticking to the pan you need to grease the pan well with shortening or a spray, such as Wilton's Cake Release TM, Bakers Joy TM or PAM's TM new Baking Spray. Lining the bottom of the pan with parchment helps too. But I dislike cutting the parchment circles so I save my butter wrappers and use them. They are already greased and are made of parchment. It is a real time saver. I store them in a zip storage bag in the refrigerator until I need one.
When working with royal icing it is important that bowls, utensils, tips and tools are grease free. I use warm water, Dawn TM dish detergent and 1/4 - 1/2 cup white vinegar and let them soak for 15-30 minutes. Rinse and let dry. Grease free tools will make for outstanding royal icing.
Royal icing sometimes needs to be thinned. I've found using a small spray bottle is the easiest way to thin royal icing. It is easy to add too much water and then powdered sugar needs to be added to stiffen it back up. The spray bottle allows you to add just a little moisture at a time depending on the consistency you need for your specific project.
When baking, I always measure and sift all of my dry ingredients. If I choose to use a cake mix, I find that to create a great cake it is important to sift the cake mix as well. Cake mixes sit on the grocery shelf for some time and the ingredients can settle and clump. Sifting takes care of that.