Baking is a fairly simple technique of cooking - provided you follow the right temperature and quantities. One wrong step and you may end up with a slumped or half risen cake or one with an off-smell. Chef Gautam Mehrishi identifies a few common reasons that lead to improper baking:
1) Incorrect temperature : Baking at the correct temperature is very crucial. Baking at a lower temperature may result in an uncooked or partially cooked cake. Baking at a higher temperature may give a bad smell and burnt flavour to the cake. However tempted you may feel to take a peek inside the oven to check if your cake is rising or not, repeated opening of the oven door may result in fluctuations in the temperature which may ruin your beautiful cake. For best results, use a thermometer to maintain an accurate temperature.
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2) Inaccurate proportions: Messing up the proportions of the ingredients can also result in a baking mishap. “Too little or too much of any leavening agent may spoil the cake”, points out Chef Mehrishi. Apart from that, too much sugar or flour may also result in a disappointing baked product. Make sure to use the exact ingredients as mentioned in the recipe - there's a reason the measurements are noted down. Check for the cup measurements and, as far as possible, do not go for conversions. Also, be careful and use accurate weighing scales that give digital reading value. In case you need to make a bigger batch, it would be wiser to make several individual batches. Any error in doubling the ingredient values may result in a baking mishap.
3) Erroneous ingredients: If possible, avoid using substitutes while baking. Carefully read the given ingredients and if the recipe mentions specific brands, use them. The more aligned you are with the recipe, the better the end product. Always check the expiry dates of the ingredients before adding them to your recipes. Using expired products may compromise the quality of your baked goodies.
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3) Not resting the batter: After pouring the batter in the mould, let it rest and settle on its own. If you try to level it with the help of a spoon, the air may escape resulting in failed baking. Another important thing to remember is to avoid keeping the batter for too long at room temperature or in the fridge. The leavening agents lose their properties.
Taking due precautions will help in preventing baking fails. Critically paying attention to the correct ingredients, measurements, temperature, consistency are key factors to baking perfect cakes!