Friday, January 27, 2012

Tips for getting the BEST FLAVOUR out of your cake!

1. Ingredients:

Needless to say, a quality cake calls for quality ingredients.

Rich, fat, butter (sorry to the health-conscious!), great dark chocolate, eggs from happy chickens, Madagascan vanilla beans plucked from the ta...(ok, going a bit overboard there, but you get my drift!) all contribute to the flavour of your cake. You can really taste the difference!

2. Baking:

FOLLOW THE RECIPE. Baking, I've found, is more of a science than it is an art. Humidity, oven temperature, a teaspoon vs. a tablespoon, even how high you fill the cake tin, all contribute to how your cake turns out! It could mean the difference between a light, moist, angel-food cake, or something largely resembling Jabba the Hut...(trust me, I've made the latter many times!)

Once, I was baking with a friend who came from the Jamie Oliver school of culinary thought (ie. "a bit o' this an' a splash o' that and Bob's your uncle!")

So when it came to adding a pinch of salt (salt actually inhibits bitterness, and also balances the sweetness of the sugar in your cake), he scooped, oh, about a HANDFUL of it and tossed it into the batter before I could stop him! "It doesn't really matter, does it?" he said.

Result? Really REALLY salty chocolate chip cookies!


3. Storage:

One of the most common questions I get when it comes to baking is, "Do I need to fridge my cake?"

The answer I'd plainly say is, No.

Cakes are always best enjoyed at room temperature - they're moist and melt in your mouth. You get to taste the full spectrum of its flavour in your palate. Suddenly your food has...dimension. Kinda like watching a movie in 3D!

This is especially so for fondant-covered cakes - popping it into the fridge, then taking it out after would cause the fondant to "sweat" and sometimes peel off from the cake itself. Not a pretty sight!

Of course there are exceptions to the rule, especially during hot summer days! With buttercream being prone to melting in the heat, I'd say it's fine to store a buttercream-covered cake or cupcake in the fridge, then allow it to come up to room temperature before eating.

Pop it in an airtight container, put it in the fridge till you need it, then give it an hour or two (depending on your ambient temperature) before devouring it.

Happy Baking!

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