Most baking recipes give a window of time in which your recipe might be done. This is because ovens can vary slightly in temperature and both the temperature of the room and your dough/batter can have an influence over baking time. So, it’s important to know how to check your baked goods for doneness to be sure they’re ready to come out and don’t need an extra minute or two. Cake is one of the most difficult things to test because it’s not always easy to tell by looking at it, or even by moving the pan.
The quickest and easiest way to check a cake for doneness is with the toothpick test. Simply take a toothpick and insert it into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, or with only a few moist crumbs attached to it, the cake is done. If the toothpick comes out with wet batter, you are going to need to add more baking time. You can also test with the tip of your finger, by gently pressing the top of the cake to see if it springs back, but a toothpick is fast, easy and you don’t need to risk your fingertip touching a hot cake.
This quick video shows you exactly what to look for. And remember, it’s usually better to check your cake or cupcakes a minute or two before you think it will be done to avoid overbaking anything.
To serve a cake, you really only need a knife to cut the cake and a spatula to transfer the slice to the plate. Any knife and spatula will do, although you will get better slices when you use better equipment. For instance, a butter knife isn’t going to give you the neatest slice of a layer cake even though it will get the job done. The Small Talk Server Cake Set is a lovely set of matching cake server and spatula that definitely get the job done well. The knife is 13-inches long, so it can easily cut through any size cake, and the server is 2 1/2-inches wide, so it can balance even generously cut slices.
The real reason that this set caught my eye is not that it is functional, but because it is lovely to look at. The set is made of stainless steel and brass, and the pieces are engraved with the phrases “First Come First Served” and “Let Them Eat Cake.” It’s the kind of set that makes a beautiful gift and as we’re coming into late spring/summer when there seem to be more weddings than other times of the year, I’ve been keeping my eyes out for suitable (and baker-friendly) gifts. The set is a little bit pricey, considering that you can slice up your layer cakes with cheaper knives, but as a gift for a cake lover, this one will be right on the money – and will definitely “let them eat cake.”
The hardest thing about making a layer cake is getting evenly sliced layers. It never seems like it will be that difficult to level the rounded top off of a single layer or cake, or to cut a taller cake into two even pieces, but even pros end up with uneven layers sometimes. The trick to getting even layers is to have a very large knife and a steady hand, but if this kind of thing isn’t your forte, a Frieling Layer Cake Slicing Kit is much more reliable than “eyeballing” your layers. The cake slicing kit comes with a large, adjustable ring mold that fits around cakes from 8 to 10-inches in diameter. The mold has seven evenly spaced slots on it, and you simply run the included knife straight through those slots to get even layers. It is foolproof, and lets you cut a cake into anywhere from 2 to 8 layers in no time at all. Once the cake is cut, you remove the ring and use the included cake lifter – which is a very large, flat spatula – to pick up the layers easily. You can then reassemble your cake, frosting and filling as you go, on your cake stand.
This tool kit isn’t a kitchen must-have unless you bake a lot of cakes, but if you do a lot of layer cake baking, it can really streamline the assembly process and save you a lot of time in the long run – especially because you know that with the ring to guide you, you’ll always have perfectly even cake layers every time you use it.
Have you ever gone to slice a cake and ended up creating funky, uneven slices that weren’t as attractive as you’d hoped? Cutting a cake badly has happened to everyone at one time or another. Fortunately, it doesn’t take anything away from the taste of a cake, but using a gadget like the Mindstorm Cake Cutter would ensure that you get perfectly shaped cake slices, too. The mechanized cake cutter was built from Legos and uses a Mindstorm NXT processor, two touch sensors and three motors to do its work. The user simply enters the number of slices that they want to get from the cake, from 1 to infinity (although you would want to choose a number that would provide satisfying slices, of course), and the machine divides that cake into perfectly even slices. The “blade” is actually the lid of a can, which works like a pizza cutter to roll through the cake. +Continue Reading
Toothpicks are the standard thing to use when testing cakes and other baked goods for doneness. They are something that just about everyone has in their kitchen and they are reliable. But there are occasions when you might want something longer than a toothpick to test the doneness of a bundt cake or other deep baked good. These are situations when a piece of an Amish Cake Tester Broom might come in handy. This handmade broom is made for testing the doneness of cake, a throwback to days when people used pieces of straw – not toothpicks – to test their baking. The broom is made of corn-husk straws, and to use it you simply break one off and stick it into your cake. Each of the straws is about 5-inches long, so you have plenty of room to get into just about any baked good. I happen to like the way that you can easily hang the broom on a hook or knob near your oven, and it has such a charming look to it that it makes a great little gift for baking buddies.