Why I buy birthday cakes…

I enjoy planning events, this is especially true when it comes to events for my friends. For as long as I can remember I have planned birthday parties for my friends. Every single one of these parties includes a very delicious cake… made by Dairy Queen. I do not make cakes, I burn, undercook, and misread directions for cakes. It is much easier to buy a cake than to make a cake. However, since I am trying to learn how to bake I felt that I would benefit from being able to make a cake.

I decided on make three different cakes; angel food (it’s my favorite), chocolate skor cake, and strawberry shortcake. Part of my learning to bake mentality is that I will learn to make everything from scratch, or at least the majority of it. Which means that I had to learn to bake all three of these from scratch.

I started with looking up YouTube videos, and I found many things. (1) angel food cake has a lot of tricks to baking it, (2) chocolate skor cake is different depending on country, and (3) videos of people baking include a lot of having specific equipment.

The first video I found for making angel food cake made me realize that I need good timing, and to know cooling strategies; since I knew absolutely nothing about either of these I decided to do a trail run with a boxed angel food cake so that I could practice the technique and not be worried about any complications that could come from the batter.

I started with the boxed angel food cake because I felt  that I would need to get my timing figured out before making fancy batters. I recorded the creation of making the boxed cake, however my computer decided that it was a perfect time to do an update and I lost the first 15 minutes of the video. Which sucks because I had an awesome introduction to my plan for the day. The cake did not bake long enough, and it fell while it was baking. Since finishing the first cake, I have learnt that golden brown, actually means slightly burnt to be properly baked. During my second video, I pulled the cake out of the oven to show how it was almost ready, I should not have  done this because I believe it is why the cake fell.

Once the first cake was done, I started the batter for the chocolate cake. Earlier in the week I found a YouTube video that teaches me to make chocolate cake from scratch, and than I used the guidance of my parents to make the chocolate cake into a skor cake. This is the first time I have ever made/ attempted to make a skor cake so I prepared for the worst. Overall the cake turned out well, the caramel sauce that goes on the skor cake however was way too sweet, which makes the cake hard to eat in large amount. I used cool whip, but I would have rather used real whipping cream. I was shocked that there was coffee in a chocolate cake, but you couldn’t taste it. The video suggests using a toothpick to test if the cake is done, which is a strategy that I have used in the past. It works…unless you don’t have toothpicks in the house. Which made knowing when the cake was done a guessing game.

While the chocolate cake was baking I started on the batter for the shortcake. This was an easy recipe to follow from the YouTube video. The batter is very similar to shortbread cookies. This made it easy to know when it was properly baked. Something I would like to try in the future is the make large cake into smaller cakes, similar to the side of an English muffin. This would make it easier to prepare each mini cake individually with whip cream and strawberries to prevent the slight sogginess that occurred the next day. The strawberry shortcake was my best of the day.

The final cake I made was the angel food cake from scratch…which could have went better. The YouTube video used a lot of technical terms, but did not show a lot of explanations of what the words meant. One part of the recipe calls for mixing the batter until it is stiff, I had no idea how stiff it needed to be…but  after baking the cake I knew that I did not have the batter nearly stiff enough. The stiffness is what makes it super fluffy and while the cake tastes good, it is more dense that an angel food cake should be. A homemade angel food cake also bakes differently, it doesn’t get the cracks in it like one made in the box does. This makes it look nicer but it also makes it harder to tell when it is cooked.

Overall the cake baking wasn’t too bad. My family all state that the cakes taste pretty good. But I think in the future I’ll stick with the delicious Dairy Queen cakes. The video editing was more successful, minus the first 15 minutes being deleted by a computer malfunction. I chose the do the video in only two parts, which required way less editing. I am getting better with the video recording and editing, I am hoping that if nothing else, at the end of this process I am at least comfortable with the video aspect of this learning project. The third part of the baking cake day can be found here.

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