5 Baking Tips for Perfect Cakes

A cake


Do you silently pray every time you pop your batter into the oven, hoping it’ll yield the cake you dream of? We get it. Cake baking is all about perfection: in technique, measurements, and timings. Yet, it’s predictable and replicable precisely because it’s so finicky. The science, the chemical reactions, will always be the same if the inputs and techniques are the same.

Instead of a prayer though, you can pay extra attention to a few essential things that’ll elevate your chances of success. And save you a lot of trouble and frustration too. These measures could be the difference between a lusciously moist cake and an arid bundle of crumbs. Or a nice, fluffy cake and a dense, chewy one. 

So go on, master the following key tips:

Tip #1: Pick a good recipe

High-quality ingredients aside, your cake will only be as good as your chosen recipe. A good recipe has the correct ratios of dry and wet ingredients, leaveners, fats, etc., and ample instructions about mixing techniques and desired consistencies to guide your cake-baking. 

It’s safe to rely on a highly-rated recipe from a cookbook or chef’s website. People often leave ratings and reviews for recipes and cookbooks online––read them! In addition to discovering whether a recipe is worth trying, you might find useful substitution suggestions that have worked for others.

If you’re crafting your own recipe, you’ll have to bank on experimentation and iterations to get things right. Fun!

Tip #2: Stick to the recipe

After you pick a recipe, it’s important to actually follow it. Baking requires you to be exact and methodical. Recipe makers test, tinker, and hand-pick ingredients for specific purposes. Substitutions, of ingredients, tools, or techniques, can be tricky. 

If you want to make replacements, review the recipe notes for recommendations from the chef or research a bit to find a suitable stand-in. The key is to find an alternative that most closely mimics the behavior of the original ingredient or implement. Usually, you’ll have to make some adjustments to the recipe.

Follow the recipe word-for-word a couple of times. When you’ve nailed it, make desired changes, one at a time, and observe the effects on the finished cake.

P.S. We have a detailed egg-replacement guide for bakers.

Tip #3: Measure ingredients exactly

This step is crucial. How exactly you measure ingredients will bake or break your cake. Inaccurate proportions of flour, sugar, leaveners, fats, etc. can leave cakes dry, sunken, dense, or even raw.

For instance, if you think an extra teaspoon of baking powder will make your cake rise like the Burj Khalifa, you’re in for a rude surprise. It’s true that extra baking powder will make your cake loftier, but the cake’s structure might not be able to sustain this extra lift. If that’s the case, the cake will, regretfully, collapse in the center. And you’ll end up with a sinkhole.

Bottom line: be sure to measure ingredients precisely. A digital scale will give you the most accurate measurements. Use our step-by-step guide to measure different baking ingredients correctly.

Tip #4: Ensure ingredients are at room-temperature

Unless the recipe clearly states otherwise, all ingredients should be at room-temperature. Cool to touch, but not cold or warm. Cold or hot items don’t blend effectively, resulting in overmixing or undermixing––making cakes dense, crumbly, or flat.

Take butter for instance. Cold butter won’t emulsify and cause lumps. Melted or warm butter will lose its ability to cream and fail to incorporate enough air when beaten. Both will adversely affect the texture and structure of a cake.

If you’re using eggs, yogurt, butter or other items from the fridge, take them out in advance. Let melted butter cool down before combining with other ingredients.

Tip #5: Use the right baking pans 

Like other baked goods, cakes need space to expand and rise. If your recipe specifies an 8-inch pan and you use a 6-inch one, you won’t get the same results. Similarly, employing a pan that’s too large will naturally make cakes flat and dense. Swapping baking pans calls for adjustments to the batter volume, baking time, or baking temperature.  

In addition to the dimensions and shape of the baking pan, the material of the baking pan will also influence how the cake turns out. Recipes often specify whether to use a metal tin or a glass dish to bake. Cakes usually utilize metal pans because metal is a better conductor of heat and more conducive to browning quickly. 

Also, be sure to prepare your baking pan with parchment paper and grease. It’ll allow the cake to pop out easily. 

Bonus tip: Don’t open the oven repeatedly

Persistently throwing open the oven door exposes the batter, which is busy transforming into a cake, to gusts of cold air. These rushes of air cause temperature fluctuations, which disturb the batter’s ongoing transformation, affecting the structure of the cake. Your cake might end up with a collapsed center, unevenly baked spots, or worse.

Wait until the last few minutes of the baking time to check on your cake; most of its structure would have formed by then. Before then, peer through the glass or make use of the oven light. 


They say you can’t have your cake and eat it too. That’s true…you just have to bake some more!

Do you have other cake baking tips that you love? Share your knowledge with the community in the responses!

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