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Help me make a cake

OrganichuOrganichu Registered User regular
edited August 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
While I'm sure you make a mean cake and have a good recipe, I am not exactly looking for the perfect cake. I am trying to recreate something my mom used to make for me. I'll be using boxed cake mix (I don't care if it's worse, shaddup!) and premade icing.

I am just looking for general 'everyone already knows these things, you idiot' tips. Follow the directions on the box and be careful for... what?

What are common baking mistakes?

Is the 'toothpick test' accurate?

How do I make it not lopsided?

etc

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Posts

  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    Go to the grocery store and buy a sheet cake.

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  • mullymully Registered User regular
    if you find some good white cake mix, you can use diet sprite to make the cake a bit better, calorically.
    also if you separate it into bowls and add food colouring - rainbow cake! way easier than you think.

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  • SilverEternitySilverEternity Registered User regular
    Organichu wrote:
    How do I make it not lopsided?
    etc

    Are you making a layer cake? If so, it's a good idea to level the bottom layer. You can use a knife or buy a fancy tool http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?sku=415-815. Otherwise if you just smooth the batter out it shouldn't be very lopsided.

    Make sure you wait until the cake is completely cool before you apply the icing.

    I've found the toothpick test is pretty accurate. I've found it's pretty hard to mess up boxed cake if you just follow the directions.

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  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    Baking powder and baking soda are not the same.

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  • Lawful EvilLawful Evil Registered User regular
    Adding a little vanilla, chocolate chips, etc. to cake mix should make it taste better.

    Also, make sure you grease the pan, or you'll have burnt cake stuck to your pan.

    Do not believe that the impossible exists. That is why you fail.
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  • godmodegodmode Nooo-ooo-ooo... That ain't dancin', SallyRegistered User regular
    You can never have enough icing.

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  • OrganichuOrganichu Registered User regular
    Excellent, excellent!

    What I'm going for is something my mom used to make- two round cake pans (standard 9", I guess?), both chocolate. Stack one on top of the other with peanut butter between them, then cover it all in chocolate frosting.

    So- level it with a knife, toothpick is ok, flavor options.

    Anything else?

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  • ChanusChanus Registered User regular
    Common mistake: Measuring flour in a wet-measure instead of a dry-measure.

    I bought a little mini-scale that measures up to about two pounds and use that to measure my flour instead of cups.

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  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic I've Done Worse Registered User regular
    edited August 2011
    Organichu wrote:
    Excellent, excellent!

    What I'm going for is something my mom used to make- two round cake pans (standard 9", I guess?), both chocolate. Stack one on top of the other with peanut butter between them, then cover it all in chocolate frosting.

    So- level it with a knife, toothpick is ok, flavor options.

    Anything else?

    Cake mix in a box is perfectly acceptable, even Alton Brown says so! It has all kinds of special...uh, well "chemicals", that do stuff like make it not collapse and stuff.

    You know how the box says "Stir 50 times" or something? Listen to it. Stirring forms gluten, gluten is what makes bread chewy. How chewy do you like your cake?

    I'd be careful with the peanut butter, it is quite common to mix peanut butter with confectioners sugar in baking. You get something like the inside of a Reese's cup. Straight PB might be a bit strong if you put much on there.

    Preheat the oven. Really.

    Edit: Oh yeah, when they give you different times/temperatures for different sized pans? They mean it. The whole surface area to volume thing is pretty important.

    Depending on what you are doing a trial run might be in order. Ovens vary, so on and so on, and this gives you an excuse for even MORE cake!

    DevoutlyApathetic on
    Trogg wrote: »
    Not as positive as AIDS and cancer, but positive nonetheless.

    PSN: QuipFilter
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  • OrganichuOrganichu Registered User regular
    Oh, the PB won't be baked. She used to bake the two cakes, let them sit for about 15 minutes, put peanut butter on top of the bottom layer, place on the top layer, do that whole shit up in chocolate frosting, then refrigerate.

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  • DevoutlyApatheticDevoutlyApathetic I've Done Worse Registered User regular
    Organichu wrote:
    Oh, the PB won't be baked. She used to bake the two cakes, let them sit for about 15 minutes, put peanut butter on top of the bottom layer, place on the top layer, do that whole shit up in chocolate frosting, then refrigerate.

    I was really just worried about the flavor. PB is strong stuff. Though chocolate holds it's own quite well with it. If it is served cold that can also help keep strong flavors in check.

    Trogg wrote: »
    Not as positive as AIDS and cancer, but positive nonetheless.

    PSN: QuipFilter
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  • OrganichuOrganichu Registered User regular
    Yeah.

    This is going back, like, fifteen years in my memory banks, but I remember it being served very cold (and her yelling at me if I tried to get any before it was very cold).

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  • ChanusChanus Registered User regular
    As someone who enjoys peanut butter and the PB+Chocolate combo, this sounds pretty awesome and doesn't need to be cold to mute the flavors.

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  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    Not sure where you are, but if you're high altitude make sure you use the high altitude directions. They can be the difference between a successful delicious cake and a disappointing failure cake.

    Ringo wrote: »
    Well except what see317 said. That guy's always wrong.
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  • republic of merepublic of me Registered User
    mix butter and almond oil in with the icing shugar not just water it makes it taste realy creamy and rich

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  • NightDragonNightDragon Registered User regular
    If the box says to bake for 35-40 minutes, or something, check it at 30. Always check what you're baking *before* the earliest suggested time. It'll give you a better idea of how much longer to leave it in for.

    Also, let the cake completely cool before you ice it! I am an impatient baker and I have to remind myself to wait each time. :P

    When you're greasing the pan(s), try to get an even layer across the entire thing, and don't forget the sides! Sprinkling a small amount of flour or cake mix over the greased pan will also help the cake to come loose once it's been baked.

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  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    Using a dark metal pan can make a difference, though more with cookies than a cake. Just check it on the early end of the done range.

    Excision wrote: »
    My girlfriend is going down tonight!

    Steam:MichaelLC
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  • OrganichuOrganichu Registered User regular
    Preparing the ingredients:

    cake1.jpg

    Mixing the batter:

    cake2.jpg

    We have baked cakes!

    cake3.jpg

    Now that they've cooled we can flip them out so they can cool.

    cake4.jpg

    We've peanut buttered the surface of the bottom layer:

    cake5.jpg

    I swear it's not actually lopsided, I just kind of half snapped the picture before the refridgerator door swung shut:

    cake6.jpg

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  • ChanusChanus Registered User regular
  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    Chanus wrote:
    .tnaw oD

    Excision wrote: »
    My girlfriend is going down tonight!

    Steam:MichaelLC
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