cake baking tips Archives

One of the most well thought of mixers that you can buy today is the kitchenaid mixer. They are by far the most popular mixer on the market today for good reason. With a reasonable price point, and high standards for design and quality, the kitchenaid professional 600 stand mixer is the perfect choice for many people. The kitchenaid artisan mixer is also highly regarded as well.

There are a couple of differences between these two models which I will now discuss. First, the artisan mixer has a five quart steel bowl while the 600 series uses a six quart size bowl. Either of these will be okay for most people who use them because the size differential is not very noticeable.

The other main difference is that the size of the motors on the two mixers is quite different. The kitchenaid professional 600 stand mixer has a large 575 watt powerful motor. The kitchenaid artisan mixer however has a 325 watt motor. While it remains a very capable motor, a lot of people may prefer the extra power that the 600 series uses. Great sales can be found on both mixers, and the price difference can be small if a good sale price is discovered.

Either of these two exceptional models may be purchased in a large range of colors. Some of the colors available include silver, white, red, pink, black, blue, grey, green, and many others. With so many to choose from, there is always going to be one to fit your kitchen theme and style.

These mixers are built to last a lifetime. When mixing up foods, they do not move around at all because they have enough weight. Both motors have ten different speeds to choose from. When finished mixing, there is an easy tilt feature so that you can have easy access to the bowl. This can come in very handy at many times.

Furthermore, both the kitchenaid professional 600 and kitchenaid artisan mixer come with a one year warranty. If it happens to break, which I highly doubt on these sturdy mixers, the warranty will cover it. There are several mixing tools that come with these machines. There is a dough tool, a flat masher, and a wire whip. If this is your first time using an appliance like this, there are instructions on how to properly use each different tool. Each shape and style of tool provides a different type of action when mixing. When making dough for instance, compared to mashing potatoes, it can be very important to use the correct tool extension. When it comes to mixing the ingredients together, the two really have quite different requirements needed, which is why you get the various attachments. There really is not a bad decision when it comes to picking one of these two models, and you can be excited to get either one.

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Whether you have been baking for many years, or are just starting out, having the proper tools for the job is of great importance. Baking is more of a science than other types of cooking due to the need for precision when measuring and weighing ingredients. You also have to deal with yeast and baking soda as a way to make bread rise. Truly great bakers are really artists of cooking. Because of the often complex aspects of baking, it is a must to use the best tools. You cannot expect great results by just throwing things together and hoping for the best.

One of the essential tools of any good baker is the marble rolling pin. There are many reasons that these types of rolling pins are great. First, they naturally do not stick as much to whatever you are trying to roll out. When making cookies and breads, this is always a key factor. Also, the natural marble stone is cooler than other pins. This helps stop the butter inside the dough from heating up and melting. There is also less chance of sticking for things that are cooler. If you happen to still have problems with sticking, then a light spray of non stick cooking oil with really help as well. If short on counter space, many times people use a butcher block kitchen cart for added work space. These can add functionality and charm to the kitchen space.

The next great thing about a marble rolling pin is that they are fairly heavy. This is fantastic because it will do most of the work for you when using it. You will need to use less strain and pressure to roll the dough. This is also a great bonus when it comes to things like crushing nuts, crackers, and cookies for pie crusts or other things. The extremely smooth surface of a marble rolling pin makes them a breeze to clean when finished using. They can be easily wiped clean and be ready for the next project.

Marble rolling pins are really quite beautiful in addition to everything else that makes them so useful. The stones have nice color and swirling patterns that is different for each pin. You might even desire to place them on top of the counter for display in your home. They also store well, and if you have a butcher block kitchen cart, that is also a good place to keep them. Since a marble rolling pin is more of a specialty item, it is often best to order them online. Many places even offer free shipping these days, so good deals can be found. A marble rolling pin is also a great and inexpensive gift for people around the holidays. These pins are great for a wide variety of tasks including many kinds of cookies and dough. No kitchen should be without one.

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Cake ideas start coming around in May for 8th grade promotions and high school and college graduations. This is one time of year when everyone seems to want their cakes on the same day or couple of days. This definitely takes some planning and preparation. The last few years, I have had orders for 25 or more cakes to be done in about 3 days. The first time I had that many orders, I baked and decorated a certain number of cakes per day – till exhaustion, with only 4 or 5 hours of sleep between. The next year, I did it with a whole new routine. The week before all the cakes were needing to be decorated, all the cakes were baked and stuck in the freezer, and many batches of decorators icing were mixed up and put in the refrigerator. Then the week prior to the graduations, the number of cakes to be decorated each day (usually 6 or 7) were taken out of the freezer the night before. That way it was just a matter of decorating cakes for the day and no baking was involved. That made things go so much smoother! It's much easier to concentrate on one thing at a time, like either baking OR decorating – not both 😉 So how do you prepare the cake for freezing? In one of my earlier posts, I explained how I line my cake pans with waxed paper before baking. Once baked and cooled, I dump the cake out on the waxed cardboard and leave that waxed paper on them to seal them for freezing. I also have 1/4" boards I put under those cardboards to help support the cake to keep it from splitting. I then insert the whole thing – cake, cardboard, and 1/4" board into a white unscented 13 gallon tall kitchen trash bag and seal it up. This helps protect the cake in the freezer. Pull the cake out of the freezer the night before and let it thaw in the bag overnight. This is also the time to set the frosting out of the refrigerator so it will be softer for spreading the next day. The next morning, take the cake out of the bag and remove the waxed paper from the cake. This whole process has kept the moisture sealed in the cake. Doing cakes for graduation if you have several orders can be a little stressful, but if you can establish a routine that works for you, it will go much smoother. If you have any other cake decorating ideas for the graduation rush, please feel free to post them here as a comment to share with others. 

Be sure to sign up for our FREE eBook “Cake Decorating: How To Go From Beginner To Expert” by subscribing to our FREE Monthly Bulletin at the top of the right side about decorating cakes, and to receive contest notifications, recipes, and cake ideas.

Cake Ideas – Using Coconut Flour vs. Wheat Flour

We know there are a lot of people out there who are allergic to wheat flour and the products made from it. Since one of the main ingredients in cake is flour, it stands to reason that many people are not able to enjoy eating cake because of these allergies. After hearing a lady comment that the cake looked so good, but she just could not eat it, we knew there had to be something out there. She asked me if I knew anything about coconut flour. I had to admit I had not even heard about it. So I did some research on the product. Many people who are allergic to wheat have no problem with the coconut flour at all. Granted, it is more expensive, but isn't it worth being able to have a piece of cake now and then instead of not at all? 😉 In our research, we found a company that offers the coconut flour at the most reasonable price when we compared them. This company has many health food related products that we would like to encourage you to check out while you are there that may also assist you in any other areas of your life. There are two ways you can actually find the coconut flour. 1.) Simply click on the coconut flour picture below to go in to the store. There is a blue bar across the top, and in the middle it says to select a product category. Click on the down arrow and select baking products. It will ask you to refine your search further. Click on Gluten Free. At the very top of the list of products you will see item #274-0001. Click on the word Coconut Flour beside it. 2. Or when you are at the blue bar, use the 'search' function at the right and type in the product code of 274-0001and it will be the first product brought up. Just click on the words 'Coconut Flour.' Either way, this will take you to the page where you can read all about the flour and it also gives the nutritional information if you scroll down the page a ways.

Now what good is that coconut flour if you don't have a recipe book to go along with it so you can know how to use it to the best advantage? Well, we have solved that for you too. We did some more research and found you a cookbook!

We hope you will be able to use these products for you or those you love so that those with wheat allergies will be able to "Have their cake and eat it too!"

Be sure to sign up for our FREE eBook “Cake Decorating: How To Go From Beginner To Expert” by subscribing to our FREE Monthly Bulletin at the top of the right side about decorating cakes, and to receive contest notifications, recipes, and cake ideas.

Cake Ideas- Valentine’s Day Cakes

Cake ideas start to be sought when Valentine's Day approaches in order to make a treat for those special someones. A decorated cake for that holiday can make it memorable, no matter what the age of the recipient. What are a few ideas for the cake itself? Well, pink and red are usually associated with Valentine's Day. So how about using Strawberry or Cherry Chip cake mix for a pink cake or a Red Velvet cake mix for a red cake! Or you can always use a White mix and add red food coloring a few drops at a time to get the shade you desire. The frosting can be white or pink and then use any of the various shades of pink and red for the trimmings, writing, and decorations. The decorations on the cake can be any variation of things to spruce it up. Ideas for that could be red or pink artifical flowers, Valentine confetti, a cake topper, or fresh strawberries (don't put these on till ready to serve 😉 ). Since hearts are usually associated with the holiday, a heart-shaped cake definately fits the occasion. If a heart pan is not available, you can actually make a cake in that shape by pouring half the batter in an 8" square layer and the other half in an 8" round layer. After they are baked and removed from the pans, turn the square layer with a point on the bottom like a diamond. Cut the round layer in half and place the cut side of each half of the round layer against one upper side of the square layer, making it look like it has Mickey Mouse ears. What shape do you see? A Heart 😮 ! Heart-shaped cupcakes or ones in Valentine cupcake papers make great individual servings or something special for school parties. Any shape of pan can be used for a Valentine's Day cake and the decorations will give it the character needed for the special occasion. You can use any of the items listed earlier for decorating the cake, or you can also use colored decorating sugar, red hots, or candy conversation hearts that are in season for the holiday.

Be sure to sign up for our FREE eBook “Cake Decorating: How To Go From Beginner To Expert” by subscribing to our FREE Monthly Bulletin at the top of the right side about decorating cakes, and to receive contest notifications, recipes, and cake ideas.

Cake Ideas – Our Store For Decorating Cakes

 

Cake Ideas can begin in several ways. Sometimes we get our ideas from pictures we see in books, sometimes from cake pans we see and start to visualize different ways we can use them, or maybe we see some sprinkles or confetti that sparks that idea. In order to assist our visitors, we have set up a store with Amazon that features cake pans of all sizes and shapes, cake decorating books of all kinds from beginner to expert (there's even one of 'Cake Decorating For Dummies' 😉 !), decorating supplies from bags and tips to toppers and candles, and baking ingredients that include sprinkles, flavorings and tube icings. There are way too many things to list them all here, including many Wilton products . We have tried to include many items that decorating cakes requires, plus some things you may not have known was even available! So come on over to visit by clicking on the blue banner above that says 'Visit CakeIdeas101.com Amazon Store' and see what we have made available for you all in one shopping place. You will be directed away from this site, but there are a couple of places on the Amazon site then where you can return to us by clicking on 'Cake Ideas 101' and it will take you back here to the home page. If there are items you would like to see us carry, please contact us and we will see about getting it added to our store. We hope you enjoy your shopping experience in our Amazon Cake Ideas 101 Store, and that you find many of the items for decorating cakes that you are looking for at a very reasonable Amazon price.

Be sure to sign up for our FREE eBook “Cake Decorating: How To Go From Beginner To Expert” by subscribing to our FREE Monthly Bulletin at the top of the right side about decorating cakes, and to receive contest notifications, recipes, and cake ideas.

Cake Ideas – How Many Will The Cake Serve?

Cake Ideas many times revolve around how many people a cake will serve. Of course the biggest determiner to that question is how big the pieces are cut 🙂 . Generally, a cake mix box is going to say that a mix will make 12 servings. Those are pretty hefty portions if you are looking at it in a 9 x 13 pan. That means you would slice the cake in six rows the width of the cake and then cut it down the middle, making 12 pieces. We usually slice it in the six rows but cut it twice the other way for 3 rows to make 18 pieces, and these are still plenty big. It can just as easily be cut in 4 rows to produce 24 pieces. If you are serving other things like ice cream or nuts and mints, this is a nice-sized piece. Cake is usually served as a refreshment and not as a meal anyway 🙂 . Cakes done in the sheet pan (or cookie pan) that is about 11 x 17 can easily be cut to serve 28 people, and that is with just one cake mix. This is 4 rows of 7 pieces, as illustrated in the first picture below. The second picture shows individual pieces marked for a 12 x 18 cake that will serve 50 people. It uses 2 cake mixes.

 

Round, heart, and other miscellaneous shaped cakes are a little harder to figure for how many they will serve. It's best to keep in mind how thick the pieces will be. As in the two above pictures, the one is in the cake pan and is only about 1/2" to 3/4" thick. The second one is from a 2" deep pan. So even though the pieces in the second one are smaller in surface area, they are also at least twice at thick as the one in the pan. If the decorated cake is a layer cake, you have even more height so the pieces can be cut narrower for the same amount of serving size. As you can see, decorating cakes for that special occasion can be a little tricky in the planning when it comes to figuring how many it will serve. The shape of the pan and the height of the cake can account for several variables. But just as a basic guide, a good rule of thumb is to figure one mix will make anywhere from 18 to 24 pieces to serve the guests. Of course, the biggest thing to figure in would be the person cutting the cake. If they like hefty pieces on the plate, you may just come up short in the end. Guest will then either be receiving a 'sliver' of cake in order to make it stretch, or they will get not at all 🙁 . If unsure there will be enough to go around, take a stash of homemade chocolate chip cookies to serve to the end of the line if you do run out, and I'm sure they will be just as happy 🙂 .

Be sure to sign up for our FREE eBook “Cake Decorating: How To Go From Beginner To Expert” by subscribing to our FREE Monthly Bulletin at the top of the right side about decorating cakes, and to receive contest notifications, recipe, and cake ideas.

Cake Ideas – Crumbs and Glazing

A Glazed Cake

 

Here are a couple of cake ideas to use before applying the frosting for your decorated cake. Make sure to brush off any loose crumbs. If you don't do this, you will end up with the crumbs showing in the icing. If this happens with a white cake, it's not as bad though as with chocolate cake when it can make it look like you've used a chocolate chip frosting 😉 A damp paper towel can be used to pick up any loose crumbs from the cake and from the board or plate it is setting on. There generally aren't too many crumbs to deal with if it's a cake that has just been turned out of the pan, but if you have to do any cutting or trimming of the cake, that can be a different story. So if you are wanting to seal those crumbs, it is best to glaze it. To glaze the cake, just take some of the same icing you will be using on the cake and thin it down with a little water to a very easily spreadable consistency. It will not matter if crumbs get mixed in during this step because they will be covered up when applying the frosting. It is best to let the glaze do some drying at this point to let it start to crust over a little. There are many steps to take in getting your desired finished product when decorating cakes. Eliminating and covering up crumbs are just a couple of cake ideas that will help you produce your masterpiece. 

Be sure to sign up for our FREE eBook “Cake Decorating: How To Go From Beginner To Expert” by subscribing to our FREE Monthly Bulletin at the top of the right side about decorating cakes, and to receive contest notifications, recipes, and cake ideas.

Cake Ideas – It All Starts With The Cake

Decorated cakes start with a good foundation of the cake itself. Here are a few cake ideas that we would like to share.

      

  • Always make sure you have extra cake mixes on hand for those unexpected last minute orders. We live 90 miles from the nearest Wal-Mart, so we make sure we have an inventory on hand because they are cheaper from there than my local grocery. We keep chocolate and white mixes in stock just because they are the most requested flavors. If someone wants any other flavor, we just purchase it locally, unless we're going to Wal-Mart before it's needed.
  • What brand of mix should you use? We would say that totally depends on which one you prefer or have the best luck with. We personally use Duncan Hines, but we know other decorators that swear by Betty Crocker or Pillsbury. It is just a personal preference, so just experiment till you find the one you like the best.
  • A little tip for using Duncan Hines white cake mixes – add an extra tablespoon of oil to the batter to make it a little more moist. Chocolate mixes require more oil anyway, and we have found this extra tablespoon helps the white mix.
  • Make sure to follow the mixing directions on the box for the time required to beat. Not only is this getting the mix totally blended, but it adds air to the batter which makes it raise better. That's why the instructions say to bake immediately after pouring the batter in the pan.
  • We don't know about other brands of mixes, but Duncan Hines has 5 cups of batter when it is mixed up. You might wonder how we know that or why we would care to know. We have done several wedding cakes and some of the pans require more than one mix to fill the pan.  So by having to measure it out to get what was required for each layer, we decided to remember that little tidbit for future reference. So now you won't have to dip and measure 😉
  • One easy way to grease your pan is to use waxed paper to line the bottom and sides instead of smearing shortening and flour. Of course, this will not work for character pans because they do not have a smooth surface. There is more about this in our entry entitled "Cake Ideas-The First Steps."
  • Since cakes tend to raise more in the middle, be sure to spread the batter well into the corners and along the sides. It may even be a little sunken in in the middle when you put it in the oven, but it will raise and be more level with the rest of the cake.
  • Don't get too far away from the cake while it is baking and make sure to set a timer and check the cake frequently when the time is about up. It doesn't take long when it's at that point to get overbaked and start drying out. You will be able to see this because not only will it get too brown, but it will start pulling in from the edges of the pan.
  • Put the cake up on a wire rack to cool rather than leave it on a counter top or on potholders. This lets air circulate around the entire cake so it will cool faster. Once it is cooled, dump it out on the waxed board or plate and remove the waxed paper if frosting soon. If frosting the next morning, just leave the waxed paper on till then to help seal in the moisture. After removing the paper, gently brush the crumbs off the top and sides they don't get picked up by the frosting.
  • Now is the time to do any leveling of the cake if need for a layer cake. We personally invested in a serrated blade slicer rather than the one with a thin wire. We couldn't believe how much easier it worked!

Now that the baking is done, you should have a good foundation to start decorating cakes. Remember, you not only want your cake to look good, but you want it to taste delicious. You want to know that when people are ready to sink their teeth into that masterpiece of yours that it is not only pretty, but one that they will rant and rave about. It is important when you have decorated cakes that you have a good product to start with – before the frosting. That is why it is essential to make sure the cake is good, not only in taste but also quality. Yes, frosting can cover up a multitude of mistakes, but when it comes down to putting that fork full in your mouth, you want to know it is going to be absolutely delicious. Yuummmmmm! click here to visit my store for ebooks with cake recipes.

Be sure to sign up for our FREE eBook “Cake Decorating: How To Go From Beginner To Expert” by subscribing to our FREE Monthly Bulletin at the top of the right side about decorating cakes, and to receive contest notifications, recipes, and cake ideas.

Cake Ideas – The First Steps


 

When getting ready to make and decorate a cake, there is some thought and planning that needs to go in to it first. What if you get in the middle of it and realize you don't have all the ingredients? What if you have something else planned the day the cake is needed? Below is a list of things we check, not only with the customer, but mostly with ourselves.

  1. One of the first things we do is to check our calendar to make sure of the day the cake is needed. If we have something else going on that day, we can make it the day ahead and put it in the refrigerator. Much less stress doing this than doing the cake on a busy day with other plans. Make sure to double check the date with the customer. We once made a cake a week early because she said she needed it on Wednesday. Problem was, she needed it the NEXT Wednesday. Thank goodness for freezers!
  2. Next, we check to make sure we have all our ingredients for cake and frosting that we need: cake mix, eggs, oil, powdered sugar, shortening, and vanilla, almond and butter flavorings. We live about 90 miles from a Wal-Mart store, so we usually stock up on the listed ingredients in order to have them on hand when needed.
  3. We mix up the frosting at least a day in advance, if not four or five days. We mix up 4 batches of decorator icing at a time. It's just enough to fill a 5 quart ice cream bucket. We always seal the top of the frosting with a sheet of plastic wrap pressed down on top of the frosting to keep out any air that will cause the frosting to dry out, and then put the lid on the bucket and store it in the refrigerator. Having this step out of the way will let you concentrate on just baking and decorating cakes without having to stop and mix up frosting.
  4. The night before making the cake, we get the frosting out of the refrigerator so it will be room temperature and easier to spread.  We also get our pans out and get them ready. If we are using a 9 x 13 or 12 x 18 pan, (also any square or round pans) we line the pans with waxed paper. This saves having to grease and flour the pans. Once you turn the cake out of the pans, the waxed paper just peals off and is ready to frost. Or if you have to bake them the night before, just leave the waxed paper on till the next morning and it keeps the moisture sealed in.
  5. The night before you can also mix up any colors of frosting you will need. This will eliminate having to do it when you are in the middle of decorating cakes. We keep little yogurt containers with lids (some brands just have the foil top now) on hand just for mixing and storing colored frosting. We also use plastic wrap to seal over this frosting so it doesn't dry out.
  6. Line out what you will be using for decorations to make your cake a masterpiece. We use artificial flowers to add color and character to my cakes. We know that is cheating, but who needs all that extra sugar from eating those frosting flowers anyway? You can get cheap artificial flowers at the discount stores and just clip off the flower with just enough stem to stick down in the cake to make it pretty. Doing this the night before eliminates hunting them down when you're trying to put the finishing touches on the cake.
  7. Here is a checklist for a wedding cake planner you can download and print off: CLICK HERE .

Hopefully, there are some hints here that will help you with getting ready for making your masterpiece. These six steps are just some cake ideas we use when we're in the "preparation mode" to get ready to decorate cakes.

Be sure to sign up for our FREE eBook “Cake Decorating: How To Go From Beginner To Expert” by subscribing to our FREE Monthly Bulletin at the top of the right side about decorating cakes, and to receive contest notifications, recipes, and cake ideas.