Many of us are already comfortable with the basics of baking a cake layer, so though I’ll go into a very simple recipe below, I won’t belabor the point. But there are some nice basics and tips I want to go over with you (and I want to show you how I use some of the equipment I recommended in my go-to cake equipment list *HERE* ). I’m frequently post-call (or, let’s face it, I’m just plain dumb), so streamlining methods makes results that much more reliable for me. Feel free to skip if you already have a cake recipe or method you love, and as always, use whatever method works best for you!
1.- A great recipe.
Though I don’t use it for every cake, the WASC is a FABULOUS place to start if you’re looking for good reproducible results that are easy to predict and customize. I explain in the video how there are different versions of this recipe, and where it started – it doesn’t matter which version you follow, they all produce a structurally-similar cake. I still follow the very first version, and it works just beautifully, but feel free to customize or go with all egg whites, or different quantities of flours. The beauty of this recipe is that it is sturdy enough to hold up to carving, reliable enough to use every time if you want, and simple enough to adjust flavorings while you’re getting comfortable with the basics of substitutions. I can do a full video on substitutions for different flavorings as well, though I mention some in the video briefly. Here is the basic version that I use in this video:
WASC (original version by kakeladi)
- 1 box white cake mix (Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, doesn’t matter)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 whole eggs
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp flavoring (vanilla/almond/Princess/what-have-you extract or emulsion)
You can literally dump all the ingredients in your mixer and go. As with any recipe, try not to overbeat, just mix till the ingredients come together in a batter – but there isn’t much you can do to ruin this cake. Trust me.
Grease your pans, and bake (I’ll tell you how in a minute).
Yield: two 8-inch round pans
2.- Cake Release
No homemade goop or mixture of shortening, butter, oil, flour, spray, or unicorn juice has yielded as consistent results as Wilton Cake Release for me. Feel free to use whatever you want – if hairspray works for you, I won’t argue. But this works EVERY TIME for me.
3.- Flower Nail for bigger pans
Just watch the video, you’ll get it.
Remember our goal is to make the cake rise as uniformly and flat as possible, and to avoid the dreaded domed top, so our cakes will stack evenly with minimal leveling. Start your oven off at 300 degrees, and leave the cake in it for 20 minutes – you heard me, 300. After that, crank your oven up to 325 for the rest of the baking. slow and steady here, guys. I can’t give you an exact amount of time, because it will depend entirely on whether you used water or milk or pineapple juice as your liquid, and whole eggs vs egg whites, and any other substitutions, but know that the very barebones basic version in this video takes an additional 30 minutes in my 325 degree oven after the initial 20 minutes at 300. You’ll know it’s done when the middle of the cake literally bounces back when you press softly on it with your finger tips (if it’s not bouncing back readily, I’m not even kidding, put it back in for another 5 minutes), and the sides have just ever so gently started to pull away from the pan (you don’t want to see a real space between the cake and the pan yet around the border, since that means you’re having actual shrinkage). Like I said, 30 minutes at 325 for me, after initial 300.
Of course, this would be the exact opposite for cupcakes – my daughter made a whole video about that for kiddos, so she’ll have that up at some point within the next few weeks ;).
Okay! I’ll see you when the cakes come out of the oven!
Once the cakes were out of the oven …