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Taking the time to make a birthday cake for someone you care about is a special gift. Whether you are a seasoned baker or are new to baking, creating a moist cake can be a challenge. By adding or substituting ingredients, properly preparing and baking the cake and trying a few post-baking tips, you can create a moist, delicious birthday cake.
Choose olive oil for the oil or fat in your cake. Substitute all forms of oil or fat with olive oil. Reduce the amount of oil by ¼ and add a heaping tablespoon of sour cream or plain or vanilla yogurt. Oil limits gluten production, so the cake will not dry out. Use 1 1/3 cups of sugar per 1 ½ cups of flour. Add ¼ cup to one cup of mayonnaise or apple sauce to your recipe. Try adding some pudding also.
Do not over-mix your cake batter. Whip your olive oil, sugar and eggs in your cake batter until it is light yellow and thick. Make a paste out of the cocoa and boiling water, if you are making a chocolate cake, and stir in the flour and mix it with the oil mix when it cools slightly. Add baking soda. Baking a moist carrot cake requires that you slowly stir the olive oil for several minutes until it is completely mixed. Alternate adding the dry ingredients with eggs until all the ingredients are added. Upside-down cakes need the oil, egg yolks and buttermilk whisked slightly. Then, slowly stir in all the dry ingredients. Beat your egg whites until they are stiff and fold them into the batter last.
Make sure your oven has a good, accurate thermometer. Bake your cake in an oven that bakes evenly and keeps a consistent temperature. Do not over or under-bake your cake. An under-baked cake will be wet in the center, and an over-baked cake will be dry. A toothpick should gently slide into the cake and come out clean if it is baked properly. Also, the cake should spring back quickly when you lightly press your finger in the top. Pay attention to the time your cake recipe states, and check the cake a few minutes before the suggested baking time is up to gauge how long the cake must still bake or if it is done. Start your oven at least 20 minutes prior to putting the cake in, and avoid opening the oven door until the cake is partially brown and fully risen.
After you take your cake out of the oven, cool it completely. This may take up to one hour. Drizzle your cake in syrup. Choose a syrup flavor that will not compete with your cake or frosting but will enhance it. Another option to maintain moisture is to freeze the cake. After it is cooled, wrap the cake entirely in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze it for at least three hours. Apply the frosting immediately upon removing it from the freezer, so the moisture is locked into the cake.
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