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How To Bake The

Perfect Cake... Every Time!
by: Amelia Carbine

Copyright 2013, CakeFu LLC. A! rights are reserved by CakeFu, and content may not
be reproduced, downloaded, disseminated, published, or transferred in any form or by any
means, except with the prior written permission of CakeFu.

CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

How To Bake The Perfect Cake... Every Time!

Written by Amelia Carbine, CakeFu (

This tutorial covers everything you need to know in order to bake a perfect
cake. We cover the main types of cakes and when to use them.
With this tutorial you will be equipped with the knowledge you will need to
add and change ingredients to a basic recipe allowing you to create endless
flavors of cake with very little trial and error.
Heres what youll learn:
-What ingredients do
-Types of cake
-Recipe variations
-Altitude adjustments and troubleshooting

CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

What ingredients do:


Creates richness- This is an obvious characteristic of butter. What is
more rich than butter? Although too much butter in a cake can actually dry it

Assists in leavening- Butter plays an important role in the leavening of a

cake. In order for butter to help in leavening, you need to whip the butter with
sugar which creates small air pockets.

Creates moisture- Oil in a cake recipe will make the cake very moist since
oil never solidifies. The downside to oil is a lack of stability. Butter at room
temperature is solid where oil is always liquid. Because of this, a cake made
with butter will be more dense and stable than an oil based cake.

Does not assist in leavening- Beating oil with sugar will not create a
light and fluy texture like butter and sugar does. Because of this, oil does not
create leavening.
CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!


Creates sweetness- Of course we all know that sugar is sweet. So clearly,
sugar creates the sweet flavor to cakes.

Assists in leavening- As stated in the butter section, when you whip

butter and sugar together, it incorporates air into the batter. But sugar does not
always assist in leavening as is the case with an oil based cake batter.
To properly incorporate sugar and butter, you want the butter to be room
temperature. Whip the butter until it is light and fluy and then slowly add the
sugar while still beating. Let this whip as long as you want but at least five
minutes or until it turns into almost a buttercream frosting consistency.

Is considered a liquid- Sugar melts as soon as liquid is added to it. For

that reason, sugar is categorizes as a liquid ingredient in most recipes instead of
a solid. If there is ever a recipe that calls for mixing wet and dry ingredients,
the sugar will be on the liquid ingredient side. The exception is if you are using
the creaming method. This is very helpful information if you ever inherit a
recipe without instructions.
CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

Egg Yolk

Egg Yolk:
Creates richness- As you see, I am separating egg yolks and egg whites
into dierent categories. The reason for this is because egg whites and egg
yolks do very dierent things. I never add a whole egg into a cake recipe
without separating it first.
The egg yolk contains all of the fat of the egg. Because of this, it creates a
richness to the cake, much like butter does.

Makes a more dense cake- Because of the fat content of an egg yolk, it
makes a more dense cake. If you want a lighter cake you will want to remove
the egg yolks. A wedding white cake is just a basic butter cake recipe without
egg yolks.
If you chose to remove the egg yolks in a recipe, be sure to add more egg white
to help stabilize the recipe.

CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

Dry ingredients:

Flour creates stability in a cake. Without flour, a cake will never set. Not
enough flour and the cake will fall, and with too much flour, the cake will be
hard and chewy.
There are dierent types of flour that do dierent things. They vary by the
amount of gluten that each type of flour produces. Gluten is the part of flour
that binds. There are high gluten content flours that will create a tough, dense
baked product. This is great for breads.
But the type of flour that is good for bread is not necessarily good for baking
cakes. You dont want a chewy, tough cake. So the two main types of flour used
in baking cakes are all purpose and cake flour which have less gluten.

CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

All Purpose Flour- All purpose flour has a higher gluten content which
will produce a tougher cake texture. This can be helpful if you need a cake that
will be firm for sculpting. Just be careful. There is a line that you dont want to
cross with firmness. Nobody likes a tough cake.

Cake Flour- Cake flour has much less gluten and creates a very light and
airy cake. This is great if you are looking for a delicate cake or cupcakes. The
downside is that you can create a cake that is too soft for sculpting or the
added weight of fondant or gum paste decorations.
In my cake recipes, I like to use half all purpose flour and half cake flour as it
creates the texture and density that I prefer.

Baking Powder/ Baking Soda:

Leavens the cake- Baking soda and baking powder create lift and ensure a
lighter cake. Baking powder and baking soda are not interchangeable. They
both leaven but they also do dierent things.

Baking Powder is double acting- Baking powder is considered a

double acting leavener. There is a chemical reaction that happens when you
add liquid to baking powder which creates pockets of air inside the cake. But
then there is a second reaction that happens to baking powder when it comes
in contact with heat which creates more lift during the baking process.

Baking Soda neutralizes acidity- Baking soda is a single acting

leavener. It reacts to liquid but not to heat. Use baking soda whenever you have
a recipe that has an acidic ingredient like chocolate or an acidic fruit. Acidic
ingredients break down the gluten in flour and cause the structure of the cake
to give out. Baking soda neutralizes the acidity and prevents the cake from

Enhances flavor- Salt is a flavor enhancer. Salt brings out flavors and allows
you to taste the cake and cut the sweetness a little bit.
CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

Liquids and Extracts:

Milk/Fruit purees/Other liquids:

Creates moisture and flavor- Milk or other liquids are necessary to
create moistness to a cake. Other liquid ingredients like fruit purees add a
flavor to the cake. This is where a lot of flavor variations are achieved.

Vanilla/Almond/other extracts:
Adds flavor- Vanilla and other extracts are such a small but major part of a
cake. They add flavor and interest to a cake. You want to use an ingredient that
has an intense flavor so you dont have to add a lot which can change the
consistency of your cake.

CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

Egg Whites:

Egg Whites:
Assists in leavening: Egg whites, when whipped to a medium to sti
peak, assist in the leavening of the cake. Some recipes will tell you to add
whole eggs after creaming the butter and sugar together. This is something that
should be avoided. Egg whites when added without being whipped defeat the
whole purpose of the white and will just dry out the cake.
If you whip the eggs and fold them in at the end, it will create a lighter cake
with a much better crumb.

CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

Types of Cake:
When I started baking, I would look for recipes that I could use and it was so hard
because the recipes were a! so dierent. It was hard to figure out which recipes would
work structura!y for a tiered or sculpted cake.
I did a lot of studying on the dierent types of cakes that are out there. So I have put them
into dierent categories and wi! teach you which types are best for cake decorating.

Pound Cake:
A true pound cake does not contain chemical leavenings like baking powder or
baking soda. It rises purely by the creaming of the butter and sugar and folding
in the egg whites. This is a major reason why pound cakes are so dense.
Traditionally, pound cakes are baked in a loaf or bundt pan. But a pound cake
can be baked in any shape of pan that is needed. A pound cake will need to
bake at a lower temperature for a longer period of time due to the density of
the batter.
Baking times vary by size of pan and volume of batter but a basic bundt would
bake at 325 degrees for 55-65 minutes.
Basic Pound Cake Ingredients
1 lb of each:
butter (2c)
sugar (2c)
flour (3.5-4c)
eggs (8-10)
Pound cakes are really great for sculpting. You can add flavorings to this basic
recipe and I would highly recommend adding salt (about a 1/2 teaspoon) to
enhance the flavors.

CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

Butter/Layer/1-2-3-4 Cake:
A butter cake is a mix between a pound cake and a sponge cake. I like to call it
a hybrid. There are several dierent names for this kind of cake. It can be
called a butter cake, layer cake, or a 1-2-3-4 cake. Why 1-2-3-4? Because the
basic recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour, and 4 eggs.
If you can remember this basic 1-2-3-4 recipe, the sky is the limits to what you
can create. You can pull together a cake at any time without needing a recipe
and you can make any kind of variations you want.
Along with those 4 basic ingredients, you include the liquid, extract, baking
powder, and salt in the amounts that are right for the variation that you
choose. I personally tend to take out a little bit of the butter since I find it to
dry out the cake with the entire cup of butter.
The liquid amount usually adds up to about a cup worth of liquid. The baking
powder or baking soda varies depending on acidity. Usually it is 1 tablespoon of
baking powder or with an acidic recipe it would be around 1 1/2 teaspoons of
baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.
Basic Butter Cake Ingredients
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
4 eggs
add liquid, extract,
baking powder, and salt
Butter cakes are the perfect cake for tiered cakes and work well for sculpted
cakes as well. I use this type of cake for all of my cakes. It has a nice moist,
dense texture but is lighter than a heavy pound cake.

CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

Chion Cake:
The main dierence between a butter cake and a chion cake is the type of fat
used. A butter cake obviously uses butter where a chion cake uses oil. The oil
is going to create a lighter texture and a more moist cake because oil never
The chion cake is acceptable for a layer cake. It isnt ideal but it will work. I
would not recommend this type of cake for a sculpted cake. It is just too soft
and will not hold up to the carving and added weight of modeling chocolate or
excess fondant. Chion cakes make excellent cupcakes.
Basic Chion Cake Ingredients
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 cup oil
pinch of salt
add baking powder,
water, and extracts
The method used for mixing a chion cake is dierent from a pound or butter
cake. It is mixed more like a sponge cake. You separate the eggs and whip the
egg whites. In a separate bowl, you will whisk the egg yolks, oil and sugar
together creating a smooth creamy mixture also called a ribbon stage. Then
you fold the dry ingredients in and then fold the egg whites in.

CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

Sponge Cake:
A sponge cake is very similar to a chion cake. The main dierence is that a
true sponge cake does not have oil added to the recipe. And like the pound
cake, a true sponge cake doesnt have added chemical leavening. It relies on the
ribbon mixture and the egg whites to create all of the lift.
I believe that the lack of baking powder and baking soda in these traditional
recipes comes from a time when chemical leavening wasnt around. The only
way that you could create lift and lightness in a cake was by incorporating all of
the air that you could into the batter before baking it.
Basic Sponge Cake Ingredients
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
pinch of salt
Like the chion cake, you whisk the egg yolks and sugar to the ribbon stage
then fold in the flour and egg whites. The sponge cake and the chion cake are
ideal for pairing with fresh fruits and creams. These cakes have a good texture
at a colder temperature because they dont have butter that solidifies at cold
temperatures. A good example of this is an angel food cake or a strawberry

CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

Amelias Butter Cake Recipe:

This recipe is my go-to recipe for a basic cake as we! as the base for most of my cake
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour (I prefer to use 2 cups all-purpose and 1 cup cake flour)
4 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk or sour cream
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Measure your flour by stirring to loosen it up. Scoop up the flour and sprinkle
it into the measuring cup. Then scrape o the excess flour with a flat edge tool
like a knife or bench scraper. This gives you the best chance of getting a
correct measurement without weighing the flour. If you would rather measure
by weight, it is about 13 ounces of flour for this recipe.

CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, combine milk or sour cream and water. Set both aside.

CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

Place the butter in a stand mixer with a beater attachment and beat it for
about 4 minutes.

The butter will almost double in size and will turn a very pale yellow.

Slowly add the sugar while still whipping the butter.

CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

Beat for 7-10 minutes until smooth and fluy. The mixture will look like a
grainy buttercream frosting.

CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

Add one egg yolk at a time until incorporated.

Lower the speed on the mixer to low. Add the flour mixture to the creamed
mixture alternately with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour
mixture. The best way to do this is:
1/3 flour mix, 1/2 liquid,
1/2 flour mix, 1/2 liquid,
1/3 flour mix. Then add the vanilla and almond extract.

In a GREASE FREE bowl, beat the egg whites until sti peaks form.
CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

Fold the whites into the batter a little at a time. First, add a dollop and mix it
in well to even out the consistency between the batter and the whites. Then
add dollops and fold them in gently, adding more before the whites disappear
into the batter. Continue folding until the whites are all incorporated but be
careful to not over mix.

Pour into greased and floured cake pans to about 1/2 to 2/3 full.
CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden and a toothpick comes
out clean. Let it cool in the pans for 10-15 minutes then turn the cake out onto
a wire rack to cool completely. And DONE!

Just a note on releasing cakes: There is a magic window for taking cakes out of the pan.
that magic window is 10-15 minutes. If you take the cake out before the 10 minutes, you run
a risk of the cake falling apart. The cake needs time to set.
If you wait until after the 15 minutes, you will probably run into the problem of the cake
sticking to the pan. This happens because the grease and flour that are there to help release
the cake, cool down and solidify which creates a glue that holds the cake in place.

CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

Now that I have shared a basic recipe, here are some variations that you can use. These
are just some su&estions to help get your juices flowing. I have given you a! of the
information that you need so you can create your own unique flavor variations.

White Cake:
This make a great wedding white cake and is a very simple variation. Just omit the e&
yolks for a whiter color and add in a couple more e& whites to stabilize.
6 egg whites
remove yolks

Lemon Cake:
This is an easy way to get a lemon flavored cake. If you want a more intense lemon flavor
you can add in lemon juice but then you wi! need to use buttermilk in place of the milk
and replace some of the baking powder with baking soda (see Chocolate Cake variation).
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 tsp lemon zest

Spice Cake:
This is the easiest of a! of the variations. You simply add spices.
1 tsp cinnamon
tsp nutmeg
tsp allspice
tsp ginger
tsp cloves
1 tsp cocoa

Chocolate Cake:
Chocolate cake can be made with cocoa or melted chocolate or both. If choosing one or the
other, I would su&est cocoa as a cake would dry out quite a bit with the amount of
melted chocolate that would need to be added. I like to use both.
replace 1/2 cup flour with cocoa
4 oz bitter-sweet chocolate
replace 1 tsp baking powder with tsp baking soda
remove 1/2 cup sugar
CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

Troubleshooting and Altitude Adjustments:

So, you've been given a recipe 'om a 'iend who lives in a dierent part of the country.
You've tasted their cake before and know that it is an amazing cake. But then you try it
yourself. A(er the cake fails miserably, you wonder what you did wrong and that you're
clearly not cut out for baking.
We!, Im here to help you overcome these problems. Usua!y the problem is in altitude.
There are things that you can do to adjust cake recipes to make them work for you
depending on where you live.
These are common problems that you might have with your cake baking and solutions to
some of the problems. I would recommend trying one fix at a time until you are
comfortable and understand how things work.

Cake is too dry

Decrease butter, decrease baking


Cake sinks in the center

Increase baking temperature,

decrease baking powder, beat eggs

Over baked exterior,

Under baked interior

Decrease baking temperature, add an

egg, increase liquid

Cake cracks

Decrease baking time

CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!

Altitude Adjustments:

3000 ft

5000 ft

8000 ft





Add 1-2
Increase 0-1
1/8 teaspoon
tablespoons tablespoon
for each
by 25
for each cup for each cup
teaspoon for each cup
degrees F
for each

Add 2-4
Increase 0-2
tablespoons tablespoon
by 25
for each cup for each cup
for each cup
degrees F

Decrease 1-3
Add 3-4
Increase 3-4
1/4 teaspoon
tablespoons tablespoons tablespoon
for each
by 25
for each cup for each cup for each cup
degrees F

So there you have it! This is pretty much everything you need to know in order
to make a great cake. You know what each ingredient does, how to combine
them, how to bake, how to make adjustments when you run into a problem,
and how to make your own variations.
Now its time for you to go try this recipe and create your own. The sky is the
limit! Id love to hear your feedback on how you liked the tutorial and what
kinds of new recipes you have been able to create.
Send me an email at

CakeFu presents How to Bake the Perfect Cake... Every Time!!