10 box cake hacks, the ultimate box cake hacks to improve a box cake and make it as good as homemade.
10 box cake hacks to have your friends praising those homemade cake skills. Not everyone has the time to be whipping up a fabulous cake from scratch. Sometimes you just need to whip something up quick and a box cake is a quick way to do that.
10 Kitchen Tools Every Baker Needs
My kitchen tool essentials are the tools and equipment that I couldn’t live without. My kitchen simply would not function without these items. Every home baker needs an arsenal of equipment to make their lives easier and their baking experience more pleasant.
Function of eggs in baking, their many uses and why we use them.
Function of eggs in baking. Eggs are a fundamental in baking. They perform a host of different functions in different bakes and it’s important to understand when and why to use them.
In the grocery store there are often many verities of egg available, duck, quail and chicken are just a few of the available verities. They also come in many different sizes and it’s important to remember that unless otherwise stated, when a recipe calls for an egg, it means a large chicken egg. This is crucial to remember as buying extra large or small eggs with throw off the ratio of the recipe and won’t yield the desired result.
Baking 101: Function of fat in baking
Types of fat. If you thought fats only came from meat or seemingly nowhere when you’re trying to dispel it from your middle then you and I need to have a chat. Fats are an essential element in baking giving you texture, flavour and colour all in one. Fats come in all shapes and sizes when it comes to baking and it can be difficult to know what’s best for your bake.
In baking gluten is essential, but often we don’t need quite as much gluten as the flour will provide. Fats coat the gluten molecules so they cannot combine into long chains. This is what makes your cake soft and tender not chewy like a bread. It contributes to the fluffiness of your cakes by the air pockets that form when fat is creamed with sugar. Fat also provides flavour and soft mouth-feel.
So, you can see that fat is not an ingredient to fear and that it is actually integral to the baking process. Let’s start out with the different qualities of fat and their functions in baking. This will give us a base when looking at the different types of fat.
Fats are hydrophobic
Put simply fats repel water. This shouldn’t come as a surprize if you’ve ever tried to make an oil and vinegar dip for bread, the vinegar will stay in a nice little bubble in the centre of the oil. An emulsifier is needed to combine the two. Like when making mayonnaise we rely on an emulsifier to hold the suspension together. This quality is especially crucial in baking as when the fat coats the gluten molecules no liquid can get to the gluten. If you haven’t checked out my post on flour you should check that out as we go through the formation of gluten.
Fats provide richness and flavour
If you’ve ever tasted a pie crust made with all vegetable shortening vs all butter you will know the difference straight away. Different fats taste different and give your bakes a different flavour. The most flavourful fats are butter, lard and olive oil and because of this flavour you have to be careful with which you choose for your bake. Lard for example is great in a savour pie crust but would leave a bad taste in your mouth in a cake.
As discussed earlier fat coats protein in flour preventing water coating the proteins and slowing down gluten development. Fat also works to shorten gluten strands. This is why a cinnamon roll and a baguette have different textures. They are both a bread product made with flour and yeast but the cinnamon roll is made with fat whereas the baguette is made without.
Like sugar, fat is essential to the rising of cakes. When beaten with sugar air pockets form, supported by the fat. Butter is used in cakes because it also contains water which evaporates when baked, this rising steam creates lift in your cakes. This is more visible when baking puff pastry, layers of butter are folded in-between layers of pastry, when baked this butter melts and evaporates lifting the pastry and creating air pockets. This is what creates the distinctive flakes.
Types of Fat
Types of fat – solid fats
Fat traditionally comes in 2 types, liquid and solid. Solid fats can be melted but generally re-solidify in cooler temperatures. This gives solid fats a different function in baking than liquid fats.
Traditionally the three maid solid fats used in baking are butter, lard and vegetable shortening. However, in recent years coconut oil has gained popularity
Shortening is made from 100% vegetable fat and is solid at room temperature. Shortening gives pastry its wonderful flakiness and gives cookies a lighter feel. It also gives bread stability and a nice smooth texture. It is generally advised to use shortening in conjunction with butter because shortening gives your bake no flavour or colour at all.
Butter consists of 80% fat and 20% water combined with milk solids. This water content works wonderfully in cakes as the water evaporates helping the cake to rise. As discussed, it is also helpful with pastry as the water evaporates creating air pockets giving your pastry that distinct flakiness. Butter also imparts flavour into your bakes.
Clarified butter is butter that has been heated to remove the sediment of milk solids therefore turning a clear colour. It is 100% fat. This means that it can be used as a substitute for any other 100% fat but not butter in baking. It has a rich flavour and beautiful golden colour.
Margarine is made from vegetable fat but unlike shortening contains only 80% fat. This means that it can be used instead of butter however it lacks the flavour of butter. If you are trying to cut calorie content, I would recommend using both butter and margarine.
Coconut oil, whilst technically a solid at room temperature, coconut oil has a lower melting point than butter. Since it is 100% fat contrary to popular belief, I don’t think it can be substituted for butter in most cases. It simply lacks the water content; this water needs to evaporate to aerate cakes and pastry. Substituting butter for coconut oil produces denser cakes.
Lard is traditionally made from pig or cow fat. It can be used in any recipe that calls for vegetable shortening however you need to keep in mind the strong meat flavour. This makes in perfect for use in savoury pastry.
Types of fat – Liquid Fats
Liquid fats do a different job in baking. Since they cannot be creamed with sugar to aerate and don’t contain water to evaporate, we need to think about them differently. Oil does provide fantastic moisture to cakes that are denser and don’t need as much lift. Brownies and carrot cake for example use other raising agents to provide the little lift desired. The desired end product is very moist and oil provides that.
Vegetable oils are generally flavourless oils which can be used interchangeably. You may also use sunflower oil.
Olive oil is fat obtained from grinding whole olives and extracting the juice. Used in focaccia bread and other Mediterranean savoury bakes. Its strong flavour means it lends itself to savoury bakes and should be used carefully as the flavour can overpower your bake. Can be substituted for vegetable oil.
Other nut oils are mostly used to flavour baked not as a primary baking fat.
Cocoa butter is a pale yellow, pure, edible vegetable fat extracted from cocoa beans. Used in chocolate chips.
Ghee is a type of clarified butter with a subtle yellow colour and rich nutty flavour, used as a substitute for butter in many cultures. Vegetable ghee, made from various vegetable oils, is more commonly used than ghee made from butter.
So there you have it my types of fat and how they are used in baking. Let me know in the comments if you find this type of post helpful and if there are any other topics you want me to cover.
Types of sugar, a comprehensive guide to the different sugars available on the market and how to use them in your baking.
Types of sugar available on the market today is mind boggling. Take a stroll down the sugar isle of any supermarket and you are bombarded by choice. But when it comes to baking, what do we choose? Will white sugar be best in your breads or is brown the better choice for cookies. Today I will take you through the fundamentals of the different types of sugar available today and help you take your baking knowledge to the next step.
Different Types of Flour and When to Use Them.
Types of flour, Flour 101: a simple guide to the different types of flour available, the fundamental differences between them and what they are used for. Okay,
20 best baking hacks to get you from newbie to star baker in no time!
20 Best baking hacks to make you a star baker in no time. Over the years I have found myself in some baking messes. Burnt cookies, stuck cakes or an empty store cupboard, I’ve been through it all. In fact over the years I’ve found that my best baking strength is fixing problems. Actually I think my best life skill is fixing problems. You see I’m incredibly clumsy, I forget to take the butter out of the fridge to warm up, I forget to put my hearing aids in and don’t hear the oven timer and I regularly forget to buy ingredients leaving me lacking when I go to bake something. This is where my 20 best baking hacks comes in.
Subsequently over the years I have developed a whole host of tips and tricks to get me through any baking issue that can arise. These are my 20 best baking hacks. Of course these tips and tricks wont fix an absolute disaster, sometimes you need to know when you should throw in the towel and start again. However, these 20 best baking hacks will help remedy those little oops moments and help you to get the best out of your bakes.
1. Quickly ripen bananas
First up on my 20 best baking hacks is bananas. If you find yourself wanting to make banana bread or a banana cream pie but don’t have any over-ripe bananas to use, you can speed up the ripening process easily and quickly. Just pop your bananas in the oven at 150C for 40 minutes until the skins are black and use as normal. I usually pop any over ripe bananas in a zip lock bag and into the freezer for use later but if you’re ever in a pinch just pop your bananas into the oven.
2. Room temperature eggs
Most recipes call for room temperature ingredients and if you’re like me and forget to take your ingredients out of the fridge. I have an easy fix to bring you’re eggs up to room temperature. Simply place some warm water into a heat proof jug and pop your eggs in for 10 minutes until they feel warm to the touch. Use them as normal and you have the perfect room temperature eggs.
3. Room temperature butter
Speaking of forgetting to take ingredients out of the fridge, butter is my personal adversary. I don’t know why I don’t just keep it in the cupboard because I never remember to take it out of the fridge. There are two ways to warm up cold butter. Pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds then transfer it to a zip lock bag and hit it with a rolling pin. Then simply scoop out the butter. Alternatively you can grab a pyrex glass, I usually use a large measuring cup. You need something that can hold boiling water. Fill the glass with boiling water and leave for a few minutes then empty the lass and put it over the butter upside down. The heat from the glass should only take 5-10 minutes to soften the butter.
4.Use your grater
When making a recipe that calls for cubed butter to be rubbed into flour, grating the butter instead of cubing it makes the process a great deal quicker. Simply grab your box grater and go for it, straight into the flour. It then takes next to no time to rub the butter in. This method works wonders for shortcrust pastry or crumbles.
5. Burnt cookie remedy
Speaking of graters they come in handy for all sorts of problems. If you have burnt the bottom of your cookies or even a cake simply whip your grater out, a microplane is best but the smallest side of a box grater works too. Rub the grater on the burnt cookie until all traces of burn has disappeared! Almost like magic!
6. Make your own icing sugar
Ran out of icing sugar? Can’t get to the shop? Just make your own. Icing sugar or powdered sugar is simply granulated sugar that has been ground finely so why not do it at home. Just throw a cup of icing sugar into your blender along with a tablespoon of cornflour and pulse until you have a fine powder. I find myself using this one all the time, I always forget to buy powdered sugar. For some reason I always just assume I have it in the cupboard. I find it best to use a blender rather than a food processor but both work.
7. Easier Measuring
If you find yourself measuring honey or molasses and dread trying to get all of the sticky substance out of the measuring cup after fear not I have the answer. I find that non stick cooking spray is the most useful thing in the kitchen cupboards. Simply give your measuring spoons or cups a light coat before you measure your sticky ingredient and it will slide out no problem. If you don’t have non stick cooking spray just give your measuring spoons a quick coating with oil works like a charm.
8. How to make fluffier whipped cream
If your wanting to make the fluffiest whipped cream that has impressively stiff peaks you simply need to keep everything cool. Make sure your cream has been thoroughly cooled in the fridge before you whip it. But if you take things a step further you will be achieving the perfect whipped cream in no time. Pop your bowl and mixer attachments in the fridge for 30 min before you whip the cream to keep everything as cold as possible and you’ll have the fluffiest whipped cream with the stiffest peaks.
9. Perfect sized cupcakes and cookies
If you struggle to get your cupcakes and cookies measured evenly I have the perfect hack. An ice cream scoop! Simply spray an ice cream scoop with non stick cookie spray and use it to scoop out your batter. You’ll have perfectly even sized cookies and cupcakes every time. Don’t forget the non stick spray, you’ll want all of the batter out of the scoop every time to keep things even. You can buy ice cream scoops in various different sizes online so that you have a size for every cookie. You can have a look at them here.
10. Easier cake slicing
Half way though my 20 best baking hacks. Have you ever made the most glorious cake, cheesecake or tray of brownies only to ruin it when it comes to slicing it. The trick to getting a prefect slice is to use a hot knife. Grab a heat proof jug and fill with boiling water simply place your knife in the water for a few seconds to heat up and you knife will slide through your cake like butter. If you making a lot of slices just keep popping you knife back into the water to heat it up.
11. Out of buttermilk?
If you’re out of buttermilk you can easily make your own. Up until recently I could never find buttermilk in the supermarket here in the UK so I’ve been using this hack for years. To make a buttermilk substitute just measure out the same amount of milk and add a tablespoon of lemon juice. Leave the mixture to one side for 5-10 minutes to let the magic happen and after 10 minutes you will have a thick, sightly acidic buttermilk substitute. You’ll never have to run out to the shop again.
12. Out of piping bags?
This is another one I always seem to be out of. Especially if I haven’t made it to Hobbycraft in a while to grab my favourite piping bags. If you regularly buy piping bags from the supermarket in those packs of 20 you’ll know that your ALWAYS running out. They tend to break easily so I’m always running out. In a pinch you can use a zip lock bag in place of a piping bag. Just snip off one of the bottom corners pop in a nozzle, fill with icing and seal up. It’s not ideal but in a pinch its your best option.
13. Fill piping bags with ease
Speaking of piping bags. Do you ever find it difficult to fill them? The easiest way to fill a piping bag is to pop the bag into a tall glass and fold the top over the glass, the bag will stay in place whilst you fill it. You can then take the sides of the piping bag from off the glass and lift the piping bag out with no mess.
14. Get more out of a lemon
If your recipe calls for the juice of a lemon or any citrus fruit really to get the most out of it simply pop it in the microwave. To get the most juice out, place your fruit on your work surface and roll it firmly with your palm this bursts some of the juice out of the fruit. To take things further simply give the lemon, lime or orange a 10-15 second blast in the microwave. You can then slice the fruit in half and squeeze out all of the juice. The heat will make this easier to do.
15. Hard brown sugar?
If you’ve ever left your brown sugar in the cupboard to long I feel your pain. If your soft brown sugar is now anything but I have a simple remedy to soften it in no time. Simply pop it into a microwave safe bowl and thoroughly wet a paper towel. Place the wet paper towel over the sugar and microwave it for 20 seconds. Take it out of the microwave, remove the paper towel and give the sugar a stir. It should be as soft as the day you bought it.
16. Keep it soft
Now that you’ve got your brown sugar soft you need to keep it like that. The easiest way to keep brown sugar soft is to store it with a slice of bread. The sugar will absorb the moisture from the bread and stay soft. Change the bread regularly so it doesn’t go mouldy if you plan to store it for a long time.
17. Another use for bread
Slices of bread are very useful when storing food. If you want to keep a cake moist simply store it with a slice of bread. A cake you have already iced and sliced can be kept moist by using a cocktail stick to secure a slice of bread to the sliced end of the cake. If you are pre making cake to ice the next day, simply place a slice of bread on top of the cake and cling wrap the whole thing. The cake should have absorbed the moisture from the bread when you come to ice it.
18. Avoid bubbles in batter
To easily remove bubbles from your cake batter or baked cheesecakes simply bang your cake pans! Fill your cake pans with your batter and give it a few really hard bangs on the counter top. This should dislodge any trapped air bubbles, the force of the bag shoots them up to the top where they pop. This gives you a wonderfully even bake. This technique is especially good with baked cheesecake where you don’t want any large air bubbles to spoil your silky texture.
19. How to avoid burnt cake edges
You know the deal, you’ve baked a beautiful cake but the inside isn’t quite baked. You can see that the edges are starting to burn and you’re powerless to do anything about it. Next time your baking a particularly deep cake keep the heat off the sides of the cake and therefore stop the sides burning before the cake has cooked through. Keep the heat off the sides by thoroughly soaking a tea towel, folding it length-ways to the width of the cake pan and wrap it round the whole pan. Simply bake as normal. This keeps the majority of the heat away from the sides and prevents burning.
20. Avoid splatter
When using a stand alone mixer, they often come with a splatter guard but what do you do when you need to use a hand whisk? This is where a pack of paper plates comes in handy. Heep a pack of cheap plain paper plates in your cupboard for times just like this. Simply poke your whisks through the paper plate before you insert them into the hand mixer. Then the plate catches the splatters and saves your counter tops and walls from cake batter splashes.
We’ve come to the end of my 20 best baking hacks. If you think I’ve missed any hacks let me know in the comments. I want to hear your baking hacks!
Shop 20 best baking hacks
And there you have it, my 20 best baking hacks. If you have any you think I’ve missed let me know in the comments! Don’t forget to show me your bakes by tagging @whatseatingmanchester in your social media post.
For more baking inspiration check out my baking 101 posts.
If you’ve always wanted to know how to make the perfect ganache stick with me and I’ll walk you through it.
Knowing how to make the perfect ganache is something every aspiring home baker should know. Ganache is a staple that can be utilised in many ways. Knowing how to make the perfect ganache will allow you to ice cakes with ease and whip up the perfect chocolate truffles in no time at all.
Morning Campers! Lovely to have you here. I'm Sarah and I'm the brains behind WhatsEatingManchester. I am a full time photographer and part time food fanatic. I have held every job in the restaurant business and food is what I do. I created WhatsEatingManchester as a place to bring together and share all my favourite recipes and images.