Magnolia Bakery 108 North State Street - Block 37 (ground floor) 312.347.7777
1. Read the recipe through from beginning to end before you even start. Set up all your ingredients and do your "prep" in advance.
2. If an ingredient is supposed to be room temperature (usually eggs) take them out of the frig 1/2 hour before you begin.
3. Egg whites will whip better if they are "old". Too fresh and they won't get enough volume. You can always crack and separate your eggs then store overnight in the frig.
4. Make sure your oven temperature is true. Mine is 75 degrees too hot!
5. Baking recipes are always presented in steps. For example, first you usually sift the dry ingredients together and set them aside. This is an important step so that when the time comes to add the dry ingredients into the wet you don't need to stop. Here is where I have an easier step, or secret. I prefer to place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together. You will generally get the same results as sifting without the mess.
6. Room temperature butter seems to be a mystery. What is room temperature? I'm one of those bakers that decides at the last minute that I want to bake something so of course my butter is coming straight from the frig. I place the butter in the microwave and heat on "defrost" in ten second intervals until the butter is the right texture. What is the correct texture? When pressed with your finger you should get a slight indentation but it should not be soft. You can tell it's too soft when it turns shiny. I don't like to leave my butter on the counter to soften. It usually ends up too soft. 65 to 75 degrees is the correct temperature.
7. Better too slightly under bake then to over bake. Since ovens vary so much it can be difficult to determine when your cake/cupcakes are done. The true test is 4 fold. Your room will start to smell like cake, the cake will start to pull away from the sides of the pan, the top will be slightly golden and last but not least, a pick inserted in the center will come out clean. Recipes will give you time range like 25 - 30 minutes. Do all of these tests at 25 minutes. You may only need a minute or two. If the pick comes out just slightly moist and the top is browning, I usually pull the pan immediately. Cooling for about 10 minutes in your pan will finish the baking process.
8. Remove cakes and cupcakes from the baking pans when they are cool (and place on a cooling rack) otherwise your cake will develop moisture beads on top making the tops appear soggy.