We’ve all chuckled at the epic baking fails on Pinterest and Nailed It!, but the truth is that baking cakes is not all that easy. Between the mixing, stacking, and icing a lot can go wrong, and a disappointing outcome can really knock your confidence in the kitchen. But fear not, because Hong Kong’s very own baking prodigy Ankrish Gidwani, of mother and son duo Baking Maniac, is here to share some savvy hacks to help turn your hot mess into a cake to impress.
1. Shape Your Cupcake
There is nothing more frustrating than a knobbly shaped cupcake, but this is often the case when those little dollops of cake mix rise like mountains as they bake in the oven. To get perfectly levelled cupcakes, use your oven mitt to press down lightly on the bumps in the cakes while they are still hot, until they change shape and become nicely rounded.
2. Keep Ice Cool
If you are finding it hard to decorate your cake, and the icing is just not co-operating and doing what you want it to, then chances are it’s because the room temperate is too high. Always decorate a cake in a cool, air-conditioned room, on a cooling rack if you have one, and if time allows, freeze each layer for a while and decorate it while the cake is cold. This is much easier than trying to decorate a warm cake straight out of the oven, with melting icing that just won’t settle.
3. Stay Smooth
If you have done the above, but are still finding it difficult to frost a cake smoothly, then pop your cake on to a turntable, and simply cover it with frosting by turning the cake and running your palette knife against the surface of the frosting around it. You will end up with perfect looking sides that are nicely even and smooth. Here are some more examples.
4. Get Semi Naked
If you don’t want to spend too much time decorating a cake, but still want it to look beautiful, then frost it “semi-naked“. Don’t worry, we’re not asking you to strip down in your kitchen, this just means don’t cover the whole cake in icing. This way you can avoid spending too much time frosting the sides to make it perfect, and add some simple decorations such as beautiful fresh flowers, and still get a beautifully dressed cake that will satisfy your eyes and your taste buds.
5. Find Your Cutting Edge
If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself tiered cakes? Frosting? Ain’t nobody got time for that! – then you can still bake a sweet treat for your loved ones with minimal craftsmanship required. Simply buy some fun cookie cutters, and dip these in flour before you press them down in the dough to reduce the amount of sticking. Who knew such a simple hack could make cookie cutting so much easier? You can find some great cookie cutters in the shops on Shanghai Street (aka Kitchen Street) in Mong Kok and in stores like I Love Cake.