Useful tips

Having trouble making that perfect cake? Or have a new oven that you don’t seem to be able to work out?

Well, here is few tips from some pros that might help you improve yur baking skills. God know, I need all the help I can get. 🙂


Is your oven hot or cool? To find out, cook a batch of scones on the middle rack at 220C. If it takes less than 12 minutes, your oven is hot. If it takes more than 15 minutes, your oven is slow/cool. You can then adjust recipes to suit your oven.

Troubleshooting cakes

Jan Boon (far right) judges the bread.Jan Boon (far right) judges the bread. Photo: Sarah McInerney

Cake has cracked on top – the oven might have been too hot at the start.

The cake has white spots (crystallisation) on it – the sugar wasn’t mixed in properly and didn’t get a chance to dissolve. Castor sugar is the best type to use as this dissolves fastest.

The cake has a crust around it – could be from an excess of sugar.

Bubbles and air pockets – these can be from uneven mixing or from not letting the batter settle in the tin before cooking (although the judges were divided on this). For the latter, tap the tin gently so the air bubbles pop, and then bake.

Cake sticks to the bottom of the tin – when you grease and flour the tin, don’t leave excess flour in the bottom. Make sure the flour evenly coats the tin and the layer isn’t too thick.

Rectangle or square shaped cakes rising with a large dome? Try running a spatula or spoon over the top so there’s a slight indent in the middle, then bake.

If the cake is dry, check the size of the eggs. If they were small this could be the culprit. Or the oven might be too hot. Check the crumb of the cake – if this is dark, it might be worth turning the oven down by 10C. The cake will take slightly longer to cook but the end result will be more moist.

If texture of the cake is more dense/heavy than desired, it could mean the oven was too hot.

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