How to Bake the Perfect Birthday Cake
There’s no better way to celebrate a birthday than with a homemade birthday cake! Get Betty’s tips and tricks for baking success every time.
- Fill cake pans half full with batter. This is important for a novelty or shaped pan (such as a heart or star shape), which can be an odd size.
Mixing the Batter
- Portable or standard electric mixers both work well for beating cake batter. Standard mixers are the more powerful of the two, so when using one, reduce the speed to low during the first step of beating to prevent splattering. You can also mix cake batter by hand. Stir the ingredients to moisten and blend, then beat 150 strokes for every minute of beating time.
- Use butter for best results. If you choose to substitute margarine, use those with at least 65% fat. Do not use reduced-fat butter or whipped products.
Once your cake is baked, follow instructions for cooling and pan removal. If no instruction is provided, a standard rule of thumb is to cool your cake in its pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. If a cake is left in its pan too long and sticks, you can try reheating it in the oven for 1 minute.
Cake Decorating Bags
There are several kinds of cake decorating bags available. Some are reusable and plastic coated; others are disposable and made of parchment paper. The plastic-coated bags can be used with or without a coupler. The coupler allows you to change decorating tips while still using the same bag of frosting or icing. A coupler is not used for large cake decorating tips.
- Arrange all the tools you plan to use on a turntable or lazy Susan. That way everything you need is within reach.
- Lightly outline the areas on the cake to be decorated with a toothpick, or write a message with the toothpick to make sure the spacing is adequate for the size of the cake. These toothpick tracings also provide a guide for piping the cake frosting.
- If your first try doesn’t work, smooth the frosting with a knife and try again.
Simple Ways to Decorate a Cake
Turn a plain frosted cake into a masterpiece with one of these easy toppers. Remember to add these easy extras just before serving to keep them from getting soft.
- Fresh fruit such as berries or slices of kiwifruit to add a pop of color.
- Candies such as fruit slices, gummy candies and marzipan.
- Frosted animal crackers, pirouette cookies or mini sandwich cookies add interest without much work.
- Sprinkles or decors, available in a wide variety at your supermarket specialty food store or cake-decorating supply stores.
- Edible flowers, candied violets or rose petals grown without pesticides so they can be eaten.
- Nuts such as pecans, cashews, or walnut halves.
- Shredded, toasted, or flaked coconut.