There’s nothing quite the same as a piece of fresh, homemade cake. Part of its appeal is its fluffiness, which affects how it tastes in the end.
Nothing is as disappointing to a baker than having a cake come out flatter than expected but the good news is that there are simple steps you can take to prevent this from happening.
Cake made from scratch has to have all of the right ingredients in order to turn out tasty but there are several other things that you can do to ensure that the cake will rise higher so it is as fluffy as possible. Below are five of those things.
1 – Always Follow the Instructions Carefully
When you’re in the kitchen, especially when you’re making something from scratch, it’s imperative to follow all instructions to a tee. This is even more important when baking something in the oven. If the directions say to whip your mixture for two minutes, whipping it for one-and-a-half minutes will not work.
Indeed, beating your batter the required length of time means that it will get enough air into it; therefore, your batter will be light and airy enough to proceed.
If they tell you to beat for two minutes, you should go ahead and set a timer on your cell phone or use a kitchen timer to make sure that you don’t shave off any valuable seconds that your cake batter needs to turn out just right.
In addition to following instructions carefully, you should never add anything that isn’t specifically required. It may be tempting to add a dollop of this or a few extra sprinkles of that but doing so could very well make your cake much denser and a lot less fluffy when you take it out of the oven.
2 – Don’t Skimp on the Batter
Regardless of how much batter the directions require, you should check the cake pans right after you pour in the batter.
If the batter doesn’t reach at least the halfway mark in your cake pan, you simply don’t have enough batter. When you don’t have enough batter, the cake doesn’t have a chance to turn out light and fluffy.
Does this mean that you should make some additional batter if the mixture doesn’t get at least halfway up your cake pans? Yes, it does. In fact, sometimes you do indeed have to make some additional mixture to make sure that there is enough to fill up the cake pans one-half or two-thirds of the way so you should go ahead and do so.
If you find yourself using one and a half boxes of cake mix or making additional batter from scratch, so be it. It is better to do this than to bake your cake and find out that it looks more like a pancake than it does a cake in the end.
3 – Never Let the Batter Set Too Quickly
If the edges of your cake batter set too quickly, it limits how high the rest of the cake will rise. If you find this happening while your cake is in the oven, all you have to do is set the oven temperature a little lower. 15 to 25 degrees is the perfect place to start. You can compensate by baking the cake a little longer.
You can also take insulated baking strips or a similar product and wrap the sides of the pan with them. This prevents the sides from setting and therefore allows the cake to rise much higher. The sides of your pan can’t slip away because if they do, your cake won’t rise as high and can even be on the flat side.
In addition, this method is also good for helping your cake become more level at the top and eliminating any indentations that sometimes occur in the middle of the cake as it’s baking so there are numerous advantages to it.
4 – Add Leavening of Some Type
When you live in a high-elevation area and you’re baking a cake, the directions usually ask you to add a little extra flour but adding some type of leavening to any cake is never a bad idea.
You can start with adding just 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder to the dry mix before you add any of the liquid ingredients; this works similar to the extra flour sometimes used.
If you add an extra egg, it will help lighten up the mixture and so will adding an ingredient such as meringue powder. If the recipe calls for you to use eggs, and it usually does, you can also try separating the eggs, beating the whites separately, and then folding them into the mixture once it’s completely mixed.
Eggs make batter lighter, especially egg whites, and they do a great job of lifting the cake a little higher so the end result is a lighter and fluffier cake.
5 – Make Sure That You Use an Oven Thermometer
It’s obvious to most bakers that the thermometers built into the ovens are not always accurate but a good oven thermometer will help you keep an eye on the temperature and make sure that it is appropriate.
Many ovens run “hot” and even have hot spots but before you decide to adjust the temperature on your oven dial, check the oven with a good thermometer to see what the actual temperature is inside.
Once you do some testing to make sure that the oven is really heated up to the temperature that the directions require, you can adjust the oven accordingly. If you have to lower the temperature, you can just set the timer for a little longer in order to compensate for the difference and make sure that the cake gets done at the right time.
If you end up increasing the temperature, make sure that you don’t increase it too much because that can dry out the cake and make it appear flatter once you take it out of the oven. Use common sense and check the cake frequently to make sure that it’s baking properly.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.