If there is one word that strikes dread into the hearts of bakers, then undoubtedly it’s “Dry Cakes”. Nothing is so unappetising like an over baked cake, that feels like you are munching on dried sponge. Even the finest flavours cannot rescue a dry cake. Just imagine the embarrassment when someone order for birthday cake and come back to you with the grievance that it was dry!
If you love to bake but find that your birthday cakes or cupcakes are not as moist as you want them to be, then read on. Whether you’re using a boxed mix or making from scratch, a bit of practice and few fail-proof tips will ensure that your cakes turn out moist and delicious, every single time.
Always begin with a good recipe
This one goes without saying. It’s so evident that we don’t include it on our list of “5 Tips for a Moist Cake.” Look out for recipes that make use of liquid ingredients like oil, milk, sour cream, buttermilk. These are usually well moist.
If you’re following a recipe from a blog or other sources online, ensure that you read through the comments section, before you begin. You can guess the outcome, based on the comments. If you can see plenty of comments about dry cakes, then you can skip the recipe. Also, remember that plenty of others would have tried the recipe and loved how it turned out, but failed to comment.
It’s human nature to speak out about something that didn’t work out right. On the other hand, if the recipe is a genius, most people don’t bother to give praise where it’s due. Long story short, while reviews aren’t all that matters, they can help you get a fair idea of the result.
If you have a yummy chocolate cake recipe that your granny has been using for decades or a chiffon cake that your aunt swears by, then even better. With these time-tested methods, you can ensure that you are on the right starting point.
Now, that we have decided on the recipe, shall we begin?
5 Fail-proof tips for Super Moist Cakes that melt in the mouth
Of these five, three are concerned about choosing the right ingredients and following the proper baking techniques. This is to prevent your cakes from turning out dry. While the last two tips are rescue missions. Think of them as lifelines when your cake leans towards the dry side. Let’s get rolling.
1. Never Over Bake
This is the primary reason why cakes turn out parched and flaky. Always make use of a timer, if your oven doesn’t have one. Very often, bakers shove many trays lined with batter into the oven and forget all about it. It’s way too easy to get distracted once you leave the kitchen.
While setting the timer on the oven, you can set it to what’s mentioned in the recipe. But, check the cake ten minutes before the end. If it looks a bit undone, pop it back into the oven. At five minutes, before the deadline do a “skewer test”. If the skewer comes out clean, then you can take out your cake. If it still needs more oven time, then check every five minutes, till you’re happy with the progress.
Side Note: How to do the “Skewer Test” the right way?
To check if your cake is baked, insert a skewer or toothpick into the centre of the cake. Remove it and check the skewer. If it’s clean with just a few crumbs, then your cake is ready. If you see any batter sticking to it, then your cake goes back into the oven.
Remember that every time you test with a skewer you have to poke it in a new place on the cake. Don’t make the mistake of using the same hole to check. It’s no longer a good indicator to help you figure out whether your cake is done.
Now, back to our tips for a moist birthday cake.
2. Is your oven heating to the right temperature?
We are about to burst your bubble. Your oven has been lying to you for so long. Just because you set the knob to 160°C, it doesn’t mean that your oven heats at 160. Get an oven thermometer and record its actual temperature.
Overheating is one of the main reasons why your cakes turn out dry. If your oven heats beyond the specified temperature, then adjust the baking time accordingly.
3. Swap milk with buttermilk, sour cream or yoghurt
Ingredients like yoghurt, buttermilk and sour cream are acidic in nature. The acidity prevents the formation of proteins and tenderises the gluten. Additionally, these ingredients have higher fat content that lends extra moisture to your cakes. Swap milk with these to bake soft, tender and moist birthday cakes.
No buttermilk? Worry not, just add one tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of milk. The milk curdles into buttermilk after ten minutes.
Now, let’s take a look at tips that help to salvage dry cakes.
4. Apply sugar solution to the baked cake
Ok, so you pull your cake out of the oven, and you have a suspicion that it isn’t moist enough. Don’t despair and dump the cake. With a few tricks, up your sleeve, you can get it as close to moist as you wished.
Make a sugar-water solution with one cup sugar and two cups of water. Pour this solution into a spray bottle. Poke a few random holes all over your cake and spray the prepared sugar water. Repeat the process if needed. Remember your goal is just to mist the birthday cake and not to make it soaking wet.
5. Pop the hot cake into the freezer
Yes, this one seems counter-intuitive to all that you have read about letting cakes cool naturally. When dry cakes piping hot out of the oven is placed in the freezer, they become tender and moist.
If life gives you dry cakes, make Trifles
If all these fail, worry not. You can still make lemonade out of your dry cake. Turn it into a trifle. Trifles are classic for a reason. They can be dressed up or down depending on your mood. Layer your dry cake in a fancy mason jar, cocktail goblet, whatever strikes your fancy. Throw in some berries, custard, mascarpone, nuts, fruits, syrup, cream or even liquor and serve it chilled. Trifles have been the saviour of dry cakes for ages.
Wrapping it Up
With these guaranteed tips, you can bid adieu to dry, crumbly cakes. Bake tender, moist goodies that will melt in the mouth. If still, you end up with dry cakes, worry not, each kitchen experiment gone wrong is a stepping stone for an excellent baker.
Cheers, and continue with your baking adventures!
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