Making the Cake
Baking and icing the cakes properly is as important as precise decorating. Your flowers, borders and other designs will look their best when you start on a perfect surface. The iced surface should look smooth as a new car finish, with no peaks or gaps to distract the eye. Starting with a high-quality pan, proper pan preparation and baking will produce a cake that is golden brown, with few crumbs, straight sides and an excellent decorating surface. The perfect start to a great cake.
Choosing the proper pan
Choose a high quality pan, especially designed for professional cake decorating. Professional cake decorating pans are either 2" or 3" deep and come in a wide range of sizes and shapes to meet any occasion. Good quality pans will last you a lifetime.
Preheating your oven
Always preheat your oven to the temperature specified in your recipe or by following the temperature recommendations from the cake pan manufacturer. The guides found on Baking Times, Batter Amounts & Number of Servings will assist you in determining the oven temperature for your pan.
Place your oven rack on the center position in your oven.
Preparing your pans for baking
Always use Pan Release which you can make ahead and keep stored in your refrigerator. Homemade Pan Release eliminates the need to grease and flour pans and releases cakes perfectly, without crumbs. Never use butter, margarine or liquid vegetable oil--they will make your cake stick and possibly burn the surface.
Apply the Pan Release to the inside of the pan with a pastry brush or paper towels--a stiff pastry brush works best. Spread the Pan Release to the entire inside of the pan all of the way up to the top of the pan and cover all indentations, making certain that there aren't any shiny spots remaining. You do not need to dust with flour after applying the Pan Release.
It is recommended to use Bake-Even Strips on your pans. These strips allow the cake to cook from the center to the edge of the pan eliminating most of the crown on the cake. Pre-soak your Bake-Even Strips in cold water. Squeeze most of the water out and wrap around the cake pan, securing with the T-pin included with the strips. If you are using 3" pans, apply the strip in the center of the pan or use 2 strips, overlapping them in the center of the pan.
Making and baking your cake
When mixing the cake, following the instruction exactly as written on the cake mix box or in your recipe.
After blending all of the ingredients for the recommended time, immediately pour the batter into each pan, filling about 1/2 to 2/3 full. Gently tap each pan on your countertop to remove most of the air bubbles. If the batter isn't level in the pan, take a spatula and spread out the batter.
Place the cake pan in your preheated oven in the center of your oven rack. Set your timer for the specified time for your recipe and pan size. The guides found on Baking Times, Batter Amounts & Number of Servings will assist you in determining the cooking time required for your pan size.
Your cake will be done when the cake has shrunk away from the sides of the pan. Once the cake has come away from the sides of the pan, insert a clean toothpick in the center of the cake, if it comes out clean your cake is done.
When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Test the cake in several areas to make sure it is done. Place a clean dish towel over the cake and gently press the cake until flat. CAUTION: Steam will be released from the cake as you press, take care not to burn yourself.
After the cake has cooled 5 minutes place a covered cake board or cooling rack over the cake and turn over. Gently remove the pan from the cake. It is important to leave the cake upside down until cool. NOTE: If the cake is left in the pan to cool, the pan release or any coating used will become thick, causing the cake to stick to the pan. Be sure to remove the cake from the pan while the pan is still warm and the coating is still in liquid form.
Cooling your cake
Place a dish towel over cake and allow to cool at least one hour. If the cake top needs leveling, place a cardboard cake circle on top of the cooled cake and turn over. Brush any crumbs from the cake. The cake must be completely cooled before icing.