Here is a large assortment of tips I’ve accumulated over the years. Keep in mind different recipes will provide different results, but overall I’ve found these do noticeably improve most recipes or make things easier.
Some recipes success depend on a specific ingredient or action. If one of these tips contradicts your recipe, your best bet is to follow what you have.
Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of meringue powder to your mix to help it rise a bit higher and make it a bit lighter in texture.
Add 1 envelope of unflavored gelatin to the batter, helps prevent the surface from splitting or cracking.
First add a teaspoon of lemon juice to the butter and sugar called for before mixing the rest of the ingredients. Helps make the cake lighter.
Take your time creaming the butter, beat/cream for at least 5 minutes to get lots of air into the butter. Add the sugar and beat/cream really well again.
Separate eggs first–beat yolks till golden and creamy then add to the butter/sugar mixture. Beat the egg whites until light and frothy before folding them into the butter mixture.
Chocolate: Before adding the bicarb required, mix it with a teaspoon of vinegar.
Dense or Fruit Cakes: Keep a heatproof dish full of water in the oven while baking (replace water if needed to keep it topped up).
Substitute oil for unsweetened applesauce or plain yogurt. Your measure can be 1:1 or 50/50. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup oil, use 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup applesauce. Different types of cakes will offer different results for texture and taste, but a good start would try the 50/50. Not only helps for moister results, also cuts fat.
Measure all ingredients to exact amounts first, then sift.
Homemade Magic Pan Grease: You can buy Magic Grease or make your own. This is used as a substitute to greasing then dusting with flour when directed to do so. Keep unused portion in an airtight container and refrigerate to use next time.
First Version: Mix 1 cup shortening (like Crisco), 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup vegetable oil and apply evenly with a pastry brush.
Second: 2 cups of Crisco and 1 cup of flour
More greasing tips:
Apply with a paper cupcake holder, a paper towel, a piece of wax paper, the butter wrapper paper or a plastic baggy. You could also use a pastry brush.
Try dusting the tins with a bit of the dry cake mix or cocoa (for chocolate) instead of flour.
Apply shortening then line with a piece of wax paper to fit the bottom. Re-grease the top of the wax paper. Pour in the batter. To get the wax paper to size, you can either trace the bottom of the tin and cut it out, or after greasing, smooth a sheet of wax paper into the pan (pressing all around the creases), remove the wax paper and cut out along the crease. This is kinda messy though, better to trace then cut it out.
To cut fat, try baking without greasing even if the recipe instructs to do so. You can just place a waxed paper liner to fit the bottom, then pour in the batter. This will also help remove the finished product cleanly. For high varieties, you’ll want to still grease and flour sides of pans if specified.
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