Each week at my family’s historic bakery, Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey, my staff (including my four sisters and two brothers-in-law) and I turn out thousands of Italian pastries, cupcakes and wedding cakes.
We learned from the master, my father, who was an exceptional baker. So it’s not surprising that I have a thing or two to share about how to create mouthwatering desserts.
Here are my 3 surefire secrets to baking a delicious cake.
1. Baking is a science.
If the recipe says measure it, measure it. If it says a cup, it means a cup. You have to read the steps and do the method. And while you’re at it, have fun!
2. When in doubt, scrape.
Bakers have a saying: “Bakers scrape.” By that, I mean that when you’re mixing in a stand mixer, some ingredients can collect at the bottom and sides of the bowl and not be fully incorporated into whatever it is that you’re mixing. Don’t wait for me to give you permission—stop that motor and scrape those sides!
3. Freeze it.
Freezing a freshly baked cake is one of the best things you can do. It seals in the moisture (cakes tend to dry out in the refrigerator) and if you plan to ice and/or decorate the cake, you’ll have an easier time because freezing will keep it firm. For optimum trimming texture, cakes should be frozen for one to two hours. Don’t try to trim a cake that’s hard as a rock because the knife can slip—be sure the cake has a little give to it before trimming.
Bonus Cake Trimming Tip:
To cut a cake in half horizontally, first set it on your work surface. Bend down so that the cake is at eye level and keep your eye fixed on the point where the knife enters the cake. Apply pressure with your free hand to the top and rotate the cake against the knife, keeping it straight to get a nice, even cut. If you’re filling the cake, make the layers level with each other, trimming if necessary so that they rest straight when stacked.