Homemade Baking Tips
Take some Air. You'll have the greatest success if you let all your ingredients come to room temperature before beginning to mix a cake batter. The air you whip into the butter is what allows your cake to rise. Leveners such as baking powder and baking soda cannot create air bubbles on their own, they can only enlarge the ones you created when you creamed the butter. If your butter is cold, you will not be able to whip as much air into it, and adding cold eggs and liquids can cause the batter to curdle, destroying those air bubbles you've already created. Don't Crack Cheesecake! Everyone loves cheesecake! To avoid the dreaded cracks on top: 1) Bake it in a water bath. This keeps the oven moisture high and the heat gentle, two important conditions for perfect cheesecake. 2) Don't over bake. When cheesecake is perfectly done, there will still be a 2 to 3 inch wobbly spot in the middle; the texture will even out as it cools. 3) Grease the sides of the pan before pouring in the batter; the cake will be able to pull away from the pan as it cools and shrinks instead of pulling apart from the middle. The Finishing Touch. You don't need to be a master with a decorating tube to make a cake gorgeous. There are so many natural, edible decorations just perfect for adding the finishing touches. Piles of fresh summer fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, or pitted cherries add simple sophistication to any cake, especially when sprinkled with confectioners' sugar and garnished with mint leaves. Create chocolate curls by warming a block of chocolate in the microwave for a few seconds and then scraping a vegetable peeler across the edge. Edible flowers -- such as violets, lavender, honeysuckle, roses, nasturtiums, snapdragons, and pansies -- make for a breathtaking cake as well. Make sure the flowers you buy have not been sprayed with pesticides.
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