Ask 10 keen bakers what the secret to a perfect sponge is, and they’ll probably all give you a different answer! Everyone has their own little baking formula that they believe makes their cakes the best, but the truth is that creating the perfect bake isn’t as challenging as it may seem.
Getting that moist sponge, and that perfect crumb, is actually very simple when you follow three simple baking rules: use the right ingredients, select your bakeware carefully, and learn about the best way to clean an oven before using it!
Step 1: Finding the Right Ingredients
Some bakers like using self raising flour for ease, others prefer being able to control the level of raising agent through using plain flour and baking powder. Some bakers wouldn’t dream of cooking with anything other than butter, while others find that substituting with vegetable oil creates a moister cake.
When it comes to ingredients, it’s largely about personal preference but there are some ingredients that may produce a better bake than others. Caster sugar, for example, creates a finer crumb than granulated sugar, and substituting milk for buttermilk or yogurt can create a melt-in-the-mouth finish.
Step 2: Selecting your Bakeware
Using high quality bakeware really can make a huge difference to your bakes. A common question that’s asked is whether silicone or metal cake tins produce a better bake. This is, of course, one of the most controversial topics in the baking world and everyone will have their own opinion.
For cakes, silicone moulds can leave the edges a little soggy because the plastic doesn’t absorb oils like metal cake tins do. Therefore, if you want a more solid, crispier edge to your cakes, metal pans may be the better option. Just remember that metal is also a better conductor of heat so your cakes may be ready to come out of the oven a little quicker than if they were baked in a silicon mould.
Step 3: Learning the Best Way to Clean an Oven
Why is having a clean oven so important when it comes to whipping up a tasty treat? Because dirty ovens are actually much more dangerous than you might think!
In Essex, the Fire Service are actually rolling out a scheme to help older people keep their ovens clean due to the risk of fire. Cakes should be rich, buttery, and with a subtle hint of vanilla – not charred – so it’s important you take this seriously. If you want to know what’s the best way to clean an oven then the answer is ‘with a good oven cleaner’ of course! Simply spray inside a cold oven (avoiding the elements and fan), leave for 30 minutes and gently scrub away any dirt. Wipe with a damp cloth and you’re ready to bake.
The Perfect Cake
While we all like to think that there’s some magical secret out there for creating perfect cakes, there’s actually not. There’s no one solution that can give you fool-proof cakes every time. Instead, it’s about focusing upon each individual step – preparation, transferring to the tin, and baking – and ensuring you’re doing everything you can to make these stages go smoothly.
That includes sourcing great ingredients, using high quality bakeware, and, perhaps most importantly of all, keeping your oven looking clean and hygienic.