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Thread: Calling all bakers! Need advice

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    Default Calling all bakers! Need advice

    I baked my first two cakes this past week. I'm a good cook but I'm not really into sweets and I'm not great at following recipes to the letters so I've always shied away from baking. I decided to change that and to learn to make at least basic cakes/cookies/etc. And because I'm stubborn and a perfectionist, I will keep at it until I get it right. Or right enough.

    My first experiment was with a recipe by Martha Stewart for a cake you can make in a cast iron pan, and top with different fruits. I chose plums and anyway, it was a disaster and ended up in the garbage (flat, and charred on the bottom and sides, barely cooked in the middle). My oven was partly to blame and I've since gotten a thermometer so I can make sure it's at the right temp.

    I made the same recipe again a second time but in a glass dish. This time it worked. I tweaked the recipe a bit after looking for other recipes online about amounts of baking soda and baking powder and realised the original recipe didn't have enough baking powder. So this time the cake rose and is actually quite fluffy and delicious, and golden on top. But the main issue is that the bottom, though not burned at all, is quite crispy. How do I avoid this? Do I have to set the dish on a higher rack in the oven (right now it's on the lower third, which is what most websites seem to recommend)? Do I use a different dish? Do I put something between the cake dish and the oven rack?

    Totally novice baker here so any tips welcome!
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    czb
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    i think a higher rack is a good idea. i usually bake stuff using the middle rack.

    and iron is a NO since it will make your cakes dark. instead of glass, you can also try an aluminum cake pan.
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    thanks czb!
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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    I'm stalking this, because I've got it in my head I want to make Jimmy's 1st birthday cake myself.

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    ^^^^
    great!

    i have a baby shower/brunch thing on sunday that's part of the reason why i finally decided to take a stab at baking. whenever i get invited to these things i always volunteer to bring a savoury dish, and when i do make pies or quiches i always cheat and buy pre-made pastry but this time i volunteered to bring something sweet so that it would force me to learn.
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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by czb View Post
    i think a higher rack is a good idea.
    sputnik, fgg, czb and 3 others like this.
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    but not too high
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Elite Member dolem's Avatar
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    I almost always bake in the middle rack, if possible, and typically use aluminum pans.

    I done a few Martha recipes and they are always more complex and seem to have extra ingredients that I don't always have on hand.

    Sput, I'm the opposite of you. I can only bake because I like to follow exact recipes. You can't mess up too much if you follow it exactly. My husband cooks dinners for us and just throws things together and it's amazing how good everything is.
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    A*O
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    There are 2 types of cook. Those who follow recipes to the letter (my sister) and those who tend to improvise (me). Both turn out great results but I find being a slave to the recipe can take the enjoyment out of it. But it can sometimes lead to some spectacular disasters! Good bakers are born, not made IMO. So I try to avoid at all costs.
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    Elite Member Moongirl's Avatar
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    Darker pans/cookie sheets definitely make cookies and cakes brown faster. There was a Q&A once on Snapchat with Duff Goldman, and someone asked about that; he said if too much browning was happening too soon, to turn your oven down and bake for longer. For example, the recipe I follow for banana bread calls for 350 degrees, and I did notice that it would be very brown around the edges (although no one has ever complained it's burned or too dry). The last time I made banana bread, I set the oven for 325 degrees and baked it maybe 5-10 minutes longer, and the color was much better.

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    Super Moderator NoDayButToday's Avatar
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    Also, when you baked the cake, how did you prep the dish to keep it from sticking? I find that if I cut a circle of parchment paper to go between the cake and the dish (to get the right size, place your dish on the parchment and trace the bottom of the dish with a pencil and then cut out your circle), it's not only the best way to get it out of the dish, but also helps keep the bottom from getting too dark since it's a small extra layer between the cake and the dish. This only helps if you were planning to turn the cake out of the pan to decorate/serve, otherwise you have paper on the bottom to cut through, lol.
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    Elite Member louiswinthorpe111's Avatar
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    Just use a cake mix. They're 85 cents at Aldi.
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips!!

    Quote Originally Posted by dolem View Post
    I almost always bake in the middle rack, if possible, and typically use aluminum pans.

    I done a few Martha recipes and they are always more complex and seem to have extra ingredients that I don't always have on hand.

    Sput, I'm the opposite of you. I can only bake because I like to follow exact recipes. You can't mess up too much if you follow it exactly. My husband cooks dinners for us and just throws things together and it's amazing how good everything is.
    Dolem, this recipe is super simple, which is why I chose it. Itís just butter, sugar, egg, flour, baking soda, baking powder and buttermilk for the batter, and I added lemon zest and vanilla extract.
    I suck at following recipes and always bump up spices and garlic or add extra stuff, I canít help it

    Quote Originally Posted by A*O View Post
    There are 2 types of cook. Those who follow recipes to the letter (my sister) and those who tend to improvise (me). Both turn out great results but I find being a slave to the recipe can take the enjoyment out of it. But it can sometimes lead to some spectacular disasters! Good bakers are born, not made IMO. So I try to avoid at all costs.
    yeah I have no expectations of becoming cake master, but I do want to make basic stuff. But yeah half the fun of cooking for me is either creating something out of whatever I have in the kitchen and getting creative, or using a recipe as a base but modifying it to suit my tastes and/or available ingredients.

    Quote Originally Posted by NoDayButToday View Post
    Also, when you baked the cake, how did you prep the dish to keep it from sticking? I find that if I cut a circle of parchment paper to go between the cake and the dish (to get the right size, place your dish on the parchment and trace the bottom of the dish with a pencil and then cut out your circle), it's not only the best way to get it out of the dish, but also helps keep the bottom from getting too dark since it's a small extra layer between the cake and the dish. This only helps if you were planning to turn the cake out of the pan to decorate/serve, otherwise you have paper on the bottom to cut through, lol.
    Noday, I did what the recipe recommended which was to line the pan with butter and sprinkle some flour on top. I used a Pyrex dish and Iím not taking the cake out of there so parchment wouldnít work. I just made the cake Iím taking to the shower this morning and the good thing about the butter and flour combo is it really does prevent sticking, but although I havenít tasted the cake yet I can see through the pan is quite golden and will probably be crunchy like the last one, hopefully a little less since I was careful to use less butter and flour this time in case that was what was causing it. The other possible cause - at least thatís what google tells me - is that my oven is butter arihnd the sides than the middle and the dish conducts heat more toward the bottom and sides and that part cooks faster.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    Can’t edit but meant to say my oven is hotter around the sides and bottom, not butter
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by louiswinthorpe111 View Post
    Just use a cake mix. They're 85 cents at Aldi.
    I have found ways to even mess those up.

    It's because I'm the "ehh, that's probably close enough/not *absolutely* necessary" type of cook. Mostly works for savory things, but definitely not baking.

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