How to Make a Cake
The tips here will help you perfect a creamed
If you want to know how to
bake a cake
that's not a creamed cake, skip
to the links at the end of
this article for how to make
angel food, pound cake,
sponge cake, and cheesecake.
Step 1: Choose a recipe
Classic Vanilla Cake
Nutrition Facts (Classic Vanilla Cake)
641 kcal cal.;
20 g Fat, total;
52 mg chol.;
113 g carb.;
1 g fiber;
5 g pro.;
2 Other Carb;
378 mg sodium
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
Step 2: Choose the right baking
Simple, sturdy, single-wall aluminum pans, with or without
nonstick coating, are perfect cake pans. Other points to keep in
• Dark or Shiny? We prefer shiny pans for cakes with delicate,
golden crusts. If you use dark or dull-finish pans, reduce the oven
temperature by 25 degrees F and check doneness 3 to 5 minutes
early to prevent overbrowning.
• Sizes and Shapes. Many recipes call for either 8x1-1/2-inch or
9x1-1/2-inch round pans. You can use them interchangeably, but
cakes baked in 8-inch pans generally require 5 to 10 minutes
longer baking time. Square and round pans may be used
interchangeably as long as they're the size called for in the
Step 3: Allow ingredients to
reach room temperature
Many recipes require some ingredients,
such as eggs and butter,
to stand at room temperature for a specified time.
This extra time allows the butter to blend more easily
with other ingredients; eggs at this temperature
will give your cake more volume.
(For food safety reasons, don't leave the eggs at
room temperature for more time than specified
in the recipe).
Tip: Never use melted butter when
softened butter is called for -- it will ruin
the texture of your cake.
Step 4: Prep the pans
If your recipe calls for greasing and flouring the pan,
use a paper towel or
pastry brush to evenly spread
shortening or butter (or nonstick cooking spray)
on the bottom, corners,
and 1 inch up the sides of the pan.
Sprinkle a little flour into the pan; tap the pan
so the flour covers all greased surfaces.
Tap out any extra flour into the sink.
If a recipe calls for lining the pan with waxed
or parchment paper, place the pan on the paper
and trace around its base with a pencil.
Cut just inside the traced line; line the bottom of a
lightly greased pan with the paper, smoothing
out any wrinkles or bubbles.
Unless otherwise specified, grease and flour the lined pan as directed.
Tip: For chocolate cakes, use cocoa powder instead of flour to coat the pan. Cocoa
powder prevents sticking and enhances the cake's flavor, and traces of it won't be
obvious after the cake is turned out of the pan.
Step 5: Preheat oven to the correct
When a cake bakes too fast, it can develop tunnels and cracks; one
that bakes too slowly can be coarse. Let your oven preheat for at
least 10 minutes, and use an oven thermometer to make sure it
reaches the proper temperature.
Step 6: Stir together the dry ingredients
These usually include flour, baking powder and/or soda, salt, and
sometimes cocoa powder and/or spices.
Step 7: Combine the butter and sugar
Wondering how to make a cake with light, tender texture? A crucial
step is to make sure the butter
(or shortening, if specified in the recipe)
and the sugar are perfectly combined.
Using an electric mixer on medium to high speed,
beat butter about 30 seconds.
Generally, a stand mixer requires a medium
speed for this step, while a hand mixer requires
a higher speed.Add the sugar in small amounts, about 1/4 cup at
a time, beating on medium speed. Scrape the sides
of the bowl as needed. Adding the sugar little by
little incorporates more air into the mixture.
Beat the mixture on medium speed until it is combined and has a
light, fluffy texture. Scrape the bowl occasionally while beating.
Step 10: Pour cake batter into prepared pans and bake
Divide the batter evenly between the baking pans.
Use an offset metal spatula to spread the batter
in an even layer. Be sure to spread it to the edge
of the pan. Bake cake according to recipe directions.
Step 11: Check cake for doneness
How do you bake a cake that's moist, not dry?
Avoid overbaking it. Start checking the cake for
doneness after the minimum baking time to
avoid burning or overbrowning it. Insert a
wooden toothpick near the center of the cake.
If the pick comes out clean, the cake is done.
Step 12: Cool the Cake
Let the cake cool in the pans for 10 minutes.
To remove from the pans, run a knife around
the edges of the cake to loosen it from the sides.
Place a wire rack over the top of the cake, and flip
the cake and the pan. Lift the pan off the cake,
being careful not to tear the edges of the cake.
If you used waxed or parchment paper, gently peel
the paper off the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely
(about 1 hour). This is a key step when you make a cake,
because it helps the cake firm up, making it less likely to
break or tear as you frost it. It also prevents the frosting
from melting as you spread it.
Step 13: Assemble the cake
To avoid crumbs in your frosting, brush the cake
layers with a pastry brush before assembling.
Spread about 1/2 cup of frosting over the first layer,
then carefully top with the next layer.
Repeat until the cake is assembled.
Step 14: Apply the first coat of frosting
Add a "crumb coat" by spreading a very thin layer of
frosting over the sides and top of the cake.
This initial coat doesn't need to look perfect -- it's
merely a way to keep the crumbs out of the finishing
layer of frosting. Let the cake stand for 30 minutes
to set up before adding the final layer of frosting.
Step 15: Finish frosting the cake
Using an offset spatula or table knife, generously
spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides
of the cake, swirling as you go. Once the cake is frosted,
go back and add more swirls as desired.
Serve the cake within 2 hours, or refrigerate to store.