Baking tips with Mary Berry

Always read the recipe carefully, weigh ingredients using accurate measures and scales and follow the order of the recipe making sure nothing is missed out - ticking off ingredients and instructions as you complete them.

Here are some questions and answers which I hope will help.

Q: Why do cakes sink?

A: Oven door opened too soon or under baking.

Q: Why do cakes crack when baking?

A: Oven too hot or cake placed too high in oven; the crust is formed too soon, the cake continues to rise, therefore the crust cracks.

Q: How do you tell if a cake is cooked?

A: Sponge cake – springy to the touch, shrinking slightly from the sides of the tin. Pale golden brown in colour.

Fruit cake – fine skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean and the cake should look the expected colour, light brown for a light fruit cake, darker brown for a traditional rich fruit cake.

Q: Why do some baked cakes have a speckly top?

A: Granulated sugar used instead of caster sugar. Mixture not mixed sufficiently, sugar therefore not dissolved.

Q: Why do my cakes always seem too dry?

A: Too much baking powder. In oven for too long or not packed as soon as cool.

Q: Why do meringues weep on baking?

A: Sugar added too quickly or too much sugar added at once.

Q:Why do meringues stick to the paper?

A: Oven too hot, whites not whisked sufficiently, oiled greaseproof paper used.

Q: How do you avoid getting a cake rack mark on top of cakes?

A: Cover the cake rack with a clean tea towel or cloth before inverting the cake on to the rack.

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