Saturday, April 20, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake

Yes, there are worse things in this world than a dry cake... but not many.
Here is a trick for always having a moist cake.

1.  Bake your cake.  Doesn't matter if you use generic boxed mixes or make it from scratch.  
BUT...Don't bake it quite as long as the package/recipe suggests.  Set the time for 5-7 minutes shy of the shortest cooking time.  Then... smell.  If your stomach growls because your nose has detected a cake baking, then you have about 4 minutes left.  

2.  Take the cake out of the oven.  If the center giggles, you need to leave it in for another couple of minutes.  
     You are welcome to test the done-ness of the cake with a knife or toothpick, but don't freak out if it  doesn't come out completely clean.  As long as it isn't still batter, you're fine.  Trust me.  

3. Now for the best part.  Spread out two overlapping layers of plastic wrap.  The idea here is that you will completely encase the hot cake in plastic wrap.  Don't wait for the cake to cool.  Loosen the edges up with a knife if you need to and plop the cake out onto the plastic wrap.  If you're using layers, do the next one the same way.

4. Freeze.  I put my layers on a cutting board and put it in the freezer.  Lay the cakes upside down and that little "dome" that happens gets flattened a little bit.

Basically, my theory is that the cake continues to bake a little even after it has left the oven.  That's why you don't wait until it the toothpick comes out clean.  However, even if you over bake your cake, sealing it in plastic wrap while it's still hot and putting it immediately into the freezer, causes all that steam to remain in the cake instead of escaping and causing the cake to dry out.  Think about what happens to sliced bread when you leave it out... it dries up the longer it is exposed to air.  

So, why the freezer? Because it is much easier to frost a frozen cake than a fresh one.  They don't need to be thawed.  In the time it takes you to frost and decorate the cake, it will be ready to slice and eat.   

Freezing your cakes ahead of time also means that you don't have to bake AND decorate the same day.  You can make your cake up to a week ahead of time if you want.  I wouldn't leave a cake in a freezer longer than a week simply because it will begin to absorb the smells of other foods that are stored in your freezer.  And I don't know about you, but Tilapia cake doesn't sound too appetizing.  :/ 

So try it and let me know how it turned out.

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