Technically speaking, making a coffee cake is relatively easy. At its core, the simplest coffee cake recipe is basically just an everyday cake batter with the addition of coffee - liquid or dry. After which, anything you do to elevate your coffee cake recipe is entirely up to you.
In any case, this in turn means that the most important rules for baking the perfect coffee cake are more or less identical to those of all other cakes in general. They say that baking is a science rather than an art (which is true), but the fundamentals of throwing a decent coffee cake together are far from complicated.
Particularly if you keep the following six golden rules in mind, you’ll find it difficult to go wrong with your next coffee cake recipe:
Rule 1. Quality Coffee = Quality Coffee Cake
The importance of this rule cannot be overstated, given how the coffee you use will be the primary flavor force in the whole thing. If you use second-rate coffee, second-rate flavor is all you can expect. You don’t necessarily have to go to extremes, but at least step up to decent gourmet coffee when putting your heart and soul into a coffee cake.
Rule 2. Avoid Altering Weights and Measures
With some recipes, you can get away with cutting down the various weights and measures to make smaller cakes. Or perhaps, increase the quantities for bigger yields. In other instances, it’s a recipe for disaster and will wreck the resulting cake. Unless the recipe states you can alter the weights and measures, assume you can’t!
Rule 3. Beware Strategic Substitutions
Likewise, swapping out ingredients also has a tendency to pave the way for disappointing results. Spices and flavorings are an exception - as are the final garnishes and decorative touches you decide to add. But when it comes to the foundations of the cake mix itself, always follow the coffee cake recipe to the letter.
Rule 4. Wait For the Oven to Heat Up
Don’t make the mistake of attempting to rush things by throwing your cake into the oven before it has fully heated up. Do so and chances are it will bake unevenly, or end up burned on the outside and raw in the middle.
Rule 5. Bake in the Center of the Oven (Unless Otherwise Specified)
Some recipes call for cakes to be baked at the bottom or top of the over, but the vast majority state that the batter should be placed in the center of the oven. If this is the case, that’s exactly where you should put it and the only place you should put it.
Rule 6. Use Only the Freshest Ingredients
Last but not least, never forget that even the simplest provisions like flour, baking soda and so on have limited shelf lives. Even if they look perfectly fine, using them in your recipes is inadvisable. Even if the cake technically comes out OK, it won’t taste nearly as good as it would have if you had used fresh ingredients.
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