Get recipe: Best-Ever Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake
Kids’ birthdays. Graduations. Big anniversaries. On events like these—and every day, frankly—it helps to know how to make a cake. You’ll find pro tips right here, from substituting ingredients to testing for doneness to a step-by-step video on how to frost a cake. Once you’ve learned how to make a cake, you can start out small—with easy cupcake recipes, progress to our top-rated cake recipes—and graduate to gourmet cupcakes. Or you can start with chocolate cakes (never a bad idea) and work your way up to a restaurant-style showstopper with this video on how to make molten chocolate cakes. If you’d rather see a kid’s eyes light up, get inspired by this specialty birthday cakes video. You can even stretch your definition of cake a bit here, and explore tiramisu recipes, or shoot off into the entirely different world of cheesecakes. Once you learn the basics of how to make a cake, the sky’s the limit!
To know how to make a cake that will wow the crowd, you need to know how to make cake batter the right way. An important step in mixing cake batter is the creaming of the butter and sugar. This incorporates air into the butter for a lighter cake. Room-temperature butter (about 70°F) is best for creaming. At the right temperature, it should be cool to the touch and leave an impression when pressed gently. It should not be spreadable or melted. Beat the butter briefly on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar; beat on medium speed 3 minutes or until light and fluffy, scraping down beaters and side of bowl occasionally. If the butter mixture begins to look curdled, it was too warm. If this happens, refrigerate the butter for 5 to 10 minutes and continue beating. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in flavoring, such as vanilla or other extracts.
Add your dry and liquid ingredients alternately, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Always beat on low speed, just until the ingredients are incorporated. Typically, the dry ingredients are split into thirds and the liquid ingredients into halves. This method ensures the least amount of mixing, giving you a more tender cake.
It may seem like a simple step, but following cooling instructions carefully before removing the cake from the pan ensures that the cake does not stick to the pan. Always cool cakes completely on a wire rack before filling or topping with frosting.