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Ask Niki: Baking slices and cakes

Q: I’m a beginner baker and I am enjoying trying all sorts of recipes. Sometimes, however, my baking doesn’t turn out that well: my slices and cakes, in particular, are dry and rubbery instead of moist and fluffy. Is it me? What am I doing wrong?

Moira, Kaitaia

A: It could be the recipes you’re using – although in Healthy Food Guide, we test recipes several times to make sure they work, so we hope that’s not the reason!

Baking is a science, and there are some things which definitely help to get great results:

  • Measure carefully. One cook’s cup of flour could be another’s 1 1/4 cups if you are a casual measurer, which could mean the difference between a light, fluffy cake and a dry one. Spoon flour lightly into measuring cups – don’t pack it down – and level off with a knife.
  • Don’t overwork the mixture. This especially applies to lower-fat recipes like ours. Mix just until the dry ingredients are incorporated with the wet ingredients, and don’t knead cookie or scone doughs too much.
  • Don’t over-soften spread or butter. Unless a recipe calls for melted butter or spread, using fat which is too soft or melted will stop cake mixtures from creaming properly, or cause biscuits to spread and lose their shape. Soften butter or spread at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.



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