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20 Secret Cake Baking Tips We Learned From Grandma

Grandma knows the best tips and tricks to bake luscious layer cakes, bountiful bundt cakes and more.

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Add a Secret Ingredient

Cindi Warren of Algona, Washington, says, “To ensure great moisture and texture in a chocolate cake, add a can of sauerkraut (well-drained) to your cake mix.” Trust us, sauerkraut chocolate cake is delicious (as are these other desserts that rely on secret ingredients).

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Taste of Home

Use Parchment Paper

When baking a layer cake, Mrs. Henry Glieb of Lancaster Pennsylvania, says, “I take a double sheet of parchment paper, set the cake pan on it and cut to the right size. Then I put the paper in each pan. When it comes time to remove the layers, they slip out easily.” Avoid these common mistakes when baking a layer cake.

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Taste of Home

Add Some Crunch

If you want a quick topping for an applesauce or banana cake, Mrs. Randy Mohr of Breda, Iowa, says, “Sprinkle the batter generously with granulated sugar, coconut and chopped nuts before baking. The cake comes out with a crunchy topping.”

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Taste of Home

Keep Frosting Soft

Mrs. Amos Hoover of Denver, Pennsylvania, says, “I add a teaspoonful of vinegar to my boiled frosting. This keeps it soft and it doesn’t crack when the cake is cut.”

Try this with cooked frostings like our Old-Fashioned Ermine Frosting.

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Add Flavor on the Bottom

Instead of a tasty topping, here’s a new twist. Ann Chernabaeff of Wasco, California, says, “Try coating the bottom of a cake pan with crushed graham crackers. They prevent sticking and add an interesting flavor.”

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Use a Whisk

Instead of using a hand sifter to sift dry ingredients for baking recipes, Jane Neave of Zion, Illinois, says, “I blend them with a wire whisk. It works much faster than sifting, and there’s less to clean up.” This is the step almost everyone skips when making cookies. (Hint: It’s not sifting.)

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Pour Even Layers

To obtain nice even layers when baking a layer cake, reader Margaret Thelen of Fowler, Michigan, says, “Spread the batter higher around the outside of the pan. The center usually rises more.” Another great tip for level layers? Invest in a set of cake strips, which wrap around the outside of your cake pan to prevent crowning.

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Sub Out Frosting

When you bake a cake but have little time to make frosting, here is a simple way from Mrs. Alvin Martin of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania: “While the cake is still warm, spread it with molasses and sprinkle with coconut or nuts.”

These vintage cakes taste just like grandma’s favorite recipes.

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Bake a Better Bundt Cake

Melinda Widner of Waxahachie, Texas, says “I often baked bundt cakes but found the cakes always stuck when I used shortening and flour on the pan. Then one day I greased my pan with shortening and sprinkled it with sugar. I’ve never had a cake stick since! Just let the cake cool 10 minutes and it’ll pop right out of the pan. With the sugar, most of the cakes don’t even need a glaze!” Try out this trick with our favorite Bundt cakes.

Need more tips for mastering Bundt cakes? Check out ideas from our Test Kitchen.

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Taste of Home

Give It a Devilishly Delicious Taste

Mrs. Clarence Huss of Hartington, Nebraska, says, “Try grating orange rind into your devil’s food cake batter. It will give it a deliciously different flavor.”

If you’re wondering, this is the difference between chocolate cake and devil’s food cake.

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Taste of Home

Mix in a Banana

Next time you have ripe bananas, bake a chocolate cake instead of banana bread. Reader Mildred Sherer of Bay City, Texas, says, “Adding a ripe banana to a chocolate cake not only keeps the cake moist, but it also gives it good flavor.”

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Baking powder being measured for a recipe.; Shutterstock ID 640739113Linda Hall/Shutterstock

Use a DIY Baking Powder

If you’re out of baking powder—make some! Mrs. Harry Holmes of Davenport, Nebraska, says “Combine 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar and a heaping teaspoon of cornstarch.”

Here’s the difference between baking soda and baking powder.

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Pop Those Air Bubbles

Make sure your cakes come out of the oven perfectly. Mrs. Pat Yingst of Covington, Ohio, says, “When baking a cake, rap your pans sharply on the countertop before putting them in the oven. This will eliminate most of the air bubbles.”

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Don’t Let Cakes Dry Out

For a moist cake, Mrs. Pat Johannsen of Collins, Ohio, says, “I always put a pan of water in the oven while the cake is baking. The heat doesn’t rob the moisture this way.”

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Prep It in Advance

Reader Susan Holtz of Ripon, Wisconsin, says, “Unfrosted cake layers can be frozen on a cookie sheet until firm, wrapped separately with plastic wrap and kept in the freezer. When they’re ready to use, just thaw, frost and serve.”

Make sure you know how to freeze cake the right way.

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Keep the Cake Plate Clean

Before frosting a cake, Joy Lepak of St. Albert, Alberta, says, “Place strips of waxed paper under the bottom layer. After frosting, carefully remove the paper. You’ll have a clean plate.”

Learn more cake frosting tips.

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Use this Cleaning Secret

When a cake or cookie recipe calls for corn syrup or molasses, Nancy Goss of Pocahontas, Illinois, says, “First use nonstick cooking spray on your utensils and measuring cups. You’ll be surprised how easily everything comes off later.”

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Sprinkle on Some Sugar

Mrs. N. Dagerin of Levy County, Florida says, “I’ve found that sprinkling confectioners’ sugar on the cake plate will prevent the cake from sticking when you serve it later.”

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Make It Better with Butter

To get cakes to pop out of the pan easily, reader Noalene Shows of Inverness, Mississippi, says, “Melt about 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine and pour it into the pan. Then turn the pan around and around until it’s coated evenly on the bottom and sides. Put the pan in the freezer and the butter or margarine hardens in a few minutes. Pour the batter into the pan and bake. The cake never sticks to the pan.”

dThe only exception? Our Test Kitchen recommends shortening for Bundt pans.

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Create a Cake Flour Substitute

To substitute all-purpose flour for cake flour, Mrs. Henry Bechthold of Booker, Texas, says, “Use 1 cup of sifted all-purpose flour minus 2 level tablespoons for each cup of cake flour the recipe calls for.”

Here are even more ways to use cake flour.

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Originally Published in Country

Lori Vanover
Lori has been a writer and editor for 16 years, fueled by plenty of coffee and chocolate. She hopes to retire someday and become a hot pepper farmer, cake decorator or barbecue pitmaster.