Baking cakes in a cooking range oven, using a commercially available cake mix, is a satisfying and simple project for the novice baker. Once the batter is prepared according to directions on the box, knowing a few tricks of the trade can produce a delicious result and win accolades from friends and family.
Things You'll Need
Cake pan or pans
Non-stick baking spray
Spoon or flexible spatula
Position the oven rack as directed by the recipe or cake-mix directions. Place an oven thermometer on the rack. Set the oven to the temperature recommended by the directions. Once the oven has preheated for about 10 minutes, check the temperature reading on the thermometer. Raise or lower the temperature setting to compensate to incorrect oven temperature. You can stir up the cake batter while the oven is heating.
Prepare the baking pan or pans by spraying the inside with non-stick baking spray. Spoon 2 or 3 tablespoons of flour into the pan and shake it sideways to completely coat the inside of the pan. Discard excess flour. Pour the batter into the pan(s) and spread with a spoon or flexible spatula. The surface of the batter should be smooth and flat. Lift the pan(s) a few inches from the table or counter top and drop. This will cause any large bubbles to rise to the top of the batter and break, producing a finer-textured cake.
Place the pan in the center of the baking rack and quickly close the oven door. Set the timer. Do not open the oven door until the timer goes off. Sudden exposure to cooler air can cause the partially baked cake to fall. Once the timer goes off, check for doneness. The middle of the cake should spring back when touched. A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should be clean when you pull it out. If the cake feels heavy or wet in the middle, bake it 8 to 10 minutes longer before retesting.
Use potholders to remove the cake from the oven. Set the cake on a cooling rack and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Place the rack on top of the cake, upside-down. Invert the cake onto the rack. Allow the cake to cool to room temperature before icing.
If you don't have an oven thermometer, set the oven to bake 25 degrees cooler than recommended. It is usually better to bake a cake cooler than directed rather than hotter. Slower baking produces smaller bubbles and a finer-textured cake. Cakes baked in an oven that is too hot rise too quickly. Large bubbles produce a coarse cake with a large hump or cracks on top. However, if the temperature is too low, the cake may not rise sufficiently.