Three-tiered cakes don’t have to be distant fantasies from the Food Network. Baking isn’t as intimidating as it seems, and we’re here to help you get started.
Whether you’re a rookie firing up the oven for the first time or a veteran looking to brush up on your skills, follow these tips and you’ll be baking your way to layer cakes in no time.
Read the entire recipe.
Your recipe is your roadmap, and you should know where you’re going. Familiarize yourself with the steps and watch for tricky details before you start.
Prep your ingredients.
There’s nothing worse than getting three bowls deep into a recipe only to realize — crap, you’re out of eggs (#firstworldproblems). Avoid mid-bake heartbreak and maximize efficiency by gathering and arranging equipment and ingredients (or substitutions) beforehand.
Take your time.
Don’t rush. Read and execute each step carefully and avoid unnecessary shortcuts. A few extra seconds won’t hurt, while a missed step or hasty move may have severe consequences.
Baking is a precise science and getting the right proportions is key. Weigh your ingredients with a kitchen scale for best results, but for the casual baker, a careful hand will do. As a general rule of thumb, pack flour loosely and sugar tightly.
Pay attention to temperature.
Temperature can be the difference between a cohesive batter and a separated mess, or a golden-brown cake and a blackened brick. Ingredients should generally be at room temperature, and baking temperatures should be followed exactly.
Grease and flour generously.
Baked goods are meant to be plated and eaten — not glued to the insides of a pan. Save yourself the frustration of scraping cake off the sides of ruined pans by properly preparing them.
Clean as you go.
Keep your work area clean by putting away ingredients as you use them and cleaning up spills as you make them. Future you will thank past you.
#SpoonTip: Keep a “waste bowl” on the counter to avoid back-and-forth trash trips.
Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Once you get more comfortable, personalize the recipe. Be wary of tweaking baking times and temperatures, but otherwise, go crazy: healthify your favorite dessert or experiment with flavor combos and add-ins.
Don’t worry about messing up.
Baking isn’t always glamorous. Sometimes your egg whites won’t whip or your cookies will crumble — but don’t stress. Fix what you can, learn from what you can’t and move on. Don’t forget to eat the scraps — crumbled cookies are still good cookies in our book.
Go ahead, roll your eyes — but this is the most important step. Baking should be enjoyable. It’s a way to relieve stress, express creativity and bring people together. Plus, you get to stuff yourself silly with delicious, homemade goodies.