edible treats

SWEET VICTORY

Tips for perfectly frosting a cake.

WRITTEN BY ERIN MEYERING
PHOTOS BY CANDICE NYANDO 

edible treats sweet victory

Baking isn’t a piece of cake. Or is it? We’ve compiled several simple tips to make your next at-home baking experience go exactly as you hope. Follow these guidelines and you’ll end up with a flavorful and stunning cake creation.

Measure ingredients accurately. Baking isn’t like cooking, where you can add a dash of this and a pinch of that. With baking, everything must be measured precisely so ingredients can react to create the correct consistency.

Freeze individual cake layers after baking. Wrap each layer in plastic wrap after cooling and place flat in the freezer until they set in the center. Freezing each layer beforehand ensures it won’t fall apart when frosting. An even frosting application is essential to a balanced layered cake.

Tool tip: Use a serrated knife to trim any uneven edges on the cake. The serrated edge helps grip the cake to avoid ripped edges. In the case of an overly browned top, just hold your knife parallel to the tabletop and take off a little bit at a time. Although frosting can do many things, it can’t glue a disastrous cake back together.

Fluffy frosting is key. Don’t be afraid to add more heavy cream, advises Deborah Nelson, self-taught baking veteran and owner of The Courtyard Café and Bakery in Fallon. The frosting should feel like a cloud. If frosting has too much butter or shortening in it, it’ll stick to the cake and be difficult to even out.

Tool tip: Use an offset spatula for a better line.

Go naked. Naked cakes are in. This style of cake doesn’t have that heavy outside layer of frosting traditionally seen on cakes. Instead, frosting is only applied modestly between each layer, leaving the outside bare. The trick is to balance rustic with beautiful, Nelson says.

Choose recipes wisely. Recipe success often depends on choosing a reputable, tried-and-true recipe. Don’t be afraid to test the recipes on packages of your favorite vanilla extract or cocoa powder.

Don’t just beat it. Overbeating ingredients can incorporate too much air into batter, potentially causing cakes to rise unevenly when baking.

Erin Meyering is a sucker for homemade white cake with strawberry frosting. The baker, professional or not, earns bonus points if it looks beautiful, too.

Resources

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edible treats okeefe

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Cake Don'ts

The owners and staff members of L.A. Bakery in Carson City offer these common baking problems:

If the cake overcooks or is thin, but the texture is still good, the cake tin may have been too big.

If the cake is too dense, the cake mixture may not have had enough air beaten into it. Maybe the eggs were added too quickly and curdled, or there wasn’t enough rising agent in the recipe.

If the cake burns on top but isn’t cooked thoroughly in the middle, the cake tin was too small or the oven temperature was too high.

Interested in elevating your baking/decorating skills even further? The Biggest Little Cake Shoppe in Reno offers several cake-decorating classes. For details, visit http://www.Thebiggestlittlecakeshoppe.net.

Recipes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

(courtesy of Deborah Nelson, owner, The Courtyard Café and Bakery in Fallon. Makes about 30 cupcakes)

2½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

⅔ cup milk

1 ounce (1 small bottle) red food coloring (natural choices are available)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream cheese frosting

In mixing bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In large bowl, beat together butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Beat in eggs one at a time, then add sour cream, milk, red food coloring, and vanilla.

Gradually add flour, cocoa, and baking soda mixture on low speed just until blended. 

Spoon into muffin pans lined with cupcake liners, filling ⅔ of each cup. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and remove from pans.

For cream cheese frosting

16 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 sticks butter, softened

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon salt

2 pounds powdered sugar

Whip ingredients together on medium speed, thinning with heavy cream until light and fluffy. Frost cupcakes. Crumble cake crumbs on top for extra color and decoration. Enjoy.

Carrot Zucchini Cake

(courtesy of Deborah Nelson, owner, The Courtyard Café and Bakery in Fallon. Makes three, 9-inch cake rounds)

4 cups sugar

3 cups canola oil

6 eggs

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups zucchini, shredded

2 cups carrots, shredded

1 16-ounce can crushed pineapple

6 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cloves

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

Cream cheese frosting

Almonds, walnuts, or pecans, toasted (optional)

In large mixing bowl, mix first 4 ingredients until frothy. Add next 3 ingredients until just blended.

In separate bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together and add to wet ingredients until mixed thoroughly.

Pour into 9-inch round cake pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray until 2/3 filled. 

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. Cool in pans and then turn out.

For cream cheese frosting

16 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 sticks butter, softened

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon salt

2 pounds powdered sugar

Whip ingredients together on medium speed, thinning with heavy cream until light and fluffy. Frost layers and stack. Add toasted almonds, walnuts, or pecans on sides for extra texture and decoration.

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