There's nothing worse thank a cake that falls flat, crumbles at the smallest touch or just tastes off. Help stop a "caketastrophe" with this excerpt from Ace of Cakes: Inside the World of Charm City Cakes by Duff Goldman and Willie Goldman.
To avoid catastrophe, store eggs and butter at 38 degrees F.
To avoid a "caketastrophe," allow them to come to room temperature before mixing.
To restrain hair without the stigma of a hairnet, wear a beanie.
Do not leave cake unattended around vultures, jackals, or underpaid art students.
If your cake turns out a little dry, try eliminating an egg white or two next time.
If your butter cake turns out rather heavy, chances are that you didn't cream the butter and sugar long enough—at least five minutes is a good rule of thumb.
To take your chocolate cake to the next level, try adding brewed coffee to the mix.
If your recipe calls for baking soda, make sure there is an acidic component (buttermilk, vinegar, citrus) in your ingredients as well—unless, of course, you're going for the always popular soapflavored cake.
Preheating your oven is not optional in baking.
The toothpick test is still the best way to determine if a cake is done—give it a poke in the center, and if the toothpick is clean, you're good to go.
For perfect, easy-to-spread ganache, use slightly more (by weight) cream than chocolate. So if you have 1 1/2 pounds of chocolate, use about 1 3/4 pounds of cream. And make sure to allow for ample time for the ganache to set up.
When making a meringue, it is better to underwhip your egg whites a little than risk overwhipping and drying them out.
When whipping egg whites, make certain that your bowl is clean and that you haven't gotten any yolk in the mix. Fat spells doom to light, fluffy meringues.
Restrain yourself—or have someone else restrain you—from cutting into the cake until it is completely cool. If you plan to ice the cake, this is particularly important.
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