Baking a Better Cake
Baking cakes is kind of an art, and the more experience you have, the more comfortable you’ll become with the cake-baking process. Keep these tips in mind when you start baking cakes:
Take steps to prevent the bulge that cakes sometimes develop on the top from uneven cooking. Use cake strips, which are essentially strips of aluminum-coated cloth that you wet and place around the outside of the cake pan (they come with pins to secure them in place).
You can also use strips of old denim to accomplish the same thing. The wet strips slow the heat transfer around the perimeter, thus preventing the bulging.
Measure ingredients correctly. Baking is the most precise and scientific part of cooking. Cakes must have the right flour-liquid-sugar-leavening ratio to bake properly.
To decorate a layer cake without using frosting, just sprinkle it with a layer of confectioners’ sugar. Place the sugar in a fine mesh sieve, hold it over the top of the cooled cake, and tap the sieve lightly with your hand, distributing the sugar evenly over the cake. Powdered semisweet cocoa also works nicely.
Make sure your oven temperature is accurate. If a cake looks soupy when the timer has gone off, your oven may not be working correctly. Adjust the temperature dial as necessary.