It can be a mysterious task to make a cake with your Thermomix. But, behold, I am here to help you perfect Thermomix cakes avoid getting dense cakes.
I’ve spoken to many people about making Thermomix cakes and have realised there seems to be a common issue: cakes tend to turn out dense, not fluffy at all and don’t rise well in the oven. After speaking to so many Thermomix owners I identified some common problems. Personally, I’ve had some great cake disasters right at the beginning of owning my Thermomix and it has made me question what I was doing wrong and why my powerful machine couldn’t do its’ magic on those cakes that always turned out so well when making by hand. And then I have started experimenting with timings, ingredients and techniques to really perfect my cake making skills and I am here to share some of my favourite tips with you for better Thermomix cakes. I hope you will find them as useful as I do.
8 Tips for better Thermomix Cakes
I’ve listed my favourite tips for better Thermomix cakes that I have accumulated over time making lots of cakes (and throwing away some).
1. Soften the butter before adding the remaining ingredients.
At the essence of a good cake is a fluffy cake batter that is a little thicker than custard. It all begins with a good quality butter. I strictly use French butter because the fat percentage is higher and that means the cake will turn out fluffier when baked. Standard packs of butter usually contain higher amounts of water which will evaporate in the oven during baking time and therefore you will loose the nice fluffy texture. Cut your butter into cubes and place in the mixing bowl. Before you add any other ingredients you need to soften the butter by creaming it for 20-40 Sec. / Speed 5. This will ensure that even cold butter will become nice and soft. I always prefer to use butter straight from the fridge and not to leave it to come to room temperature because when butter gets too warm it may melt too fast in the oven, causing the cake to collapse in the centre when baking.
2. Use a good quality plain flour.
I cannot emphasise the importance of good quality ingredients enough. The difference between a supermarket basic brand of flour and a good quality plain flour from a mill is immense. It is almost like two entirely different worlds. If you can, get a really good quality flour as the likelihood that they’ve been bleached and chemically treated is lower. A good quality flour will provide better structure for your cake and help it rise more evenly. I also refrain from using self-raising flour. It is hard to know how much baking powder or raising agent they put in the flour so you have little control over how the cake will rise. I like to stay in control of what I add to my cake so that I know next time to alter ingredients if it hasn’t produced the desired results.
3. Use enough baking powder that hasn’t been in your cupboard for months.
Baking powder makes or breaks your cake’s fluffiness and texture. A dense cake can sometimes be blamed on bad baking powder or simply not enough. For most of my standard sized cakes I use about 1 level Tbsp (please note, this is a UK size Tbsp, the size of the spoon may vary in your country) which sounds like a lot but is absolutely essential to get your cake to rise properly. I also usually stay away from bicarbonate of soda. I find that it makes a funny taste in cakes. Make sure though that you use a baking powder that isn’t older than 3 months. The older it is, the less likely it is to be good enough or strong enough to help your cake achieve an even bake. Old baking powder just isn’t the same. I usually buy small sachets which makes it much easier for me to judge how old it is.
4. Over-beating the cake mixture can be a disaster.
One of the things my grandma taught me when I first made cakes as a tiny girl was to never over-beat the mixture. She always used to tell me the reason for that is that the flour will burn in the oven more easily and the cake will brown too quickly, tasting a little bitter in the end. I actually put her wisdom to the test recently and she is absolutely right. Similar to a shortcrust pastry, a cake batter should not be mixed in the Thermomix for longer than 45 Sec. / Speed 5 altogether. The Thermomix is so powerful so you don’t want to risk over-beating because you think it could do with a little less lumps or become a little more smooth. If the cake mixture is mixed for too long you will notice that in the oven your cake just won’t rise nicely because you have literally beaten the air out of the batter which does the opposite of what you want.
5. Pop the bubble halfway through mixing time.
If you’ve made a cake batter with the Thermomix before you may have noticed that it somehow doesn’t really mix well and after the time is up, the cake batter still looks nowhere near as smooth as you wish. My favourite trick is to stop the Thermomix halfway through the mixing time and to literally pop the air bubble that has formed during the initial mixing time. What happens is that the blades only touch a little part of the cake batter ingredients and shake it around at the bottom, causing air to get trapped which is why the rest doesn’t really get incorporated well. When you switch off the machine you might even notice that it pops itself but if not, take your spatula and simply pop it by scraping the sides of the bowl and giving it one good stir. Then continue until the mixing time is up. It really helps to get a smoother batter.
6. It’s all about the tin size and not using too much mixture in your tin.
When you are finally ready to put your lovely cake batter in the tin, at this step I am always very cautious. Picking the wrong tin size is easy done and the results can be disastrous. As a rule of thumb I would never fill the cake tin more than 1/3 – 1/2 way up. Use a good quality non-stick tin and line the base with greaseproof paper first. Then, pour the batter in and don’t shake around too much before baking. If the tin is too large the cake will burn quickly on the sides before the centre has a chance to reach the right temperature. If the tin is too small, the cake won’t cook on time and sink in the centre. 20cm is perfect for about 2 – 3 egg mixtures. If you are making a sandwich cake with multiple layers, cook them in an 18cm tin with 1/2 of the cake batter at a time.
7. Seal off your cake with apricot jam before icing.
Once the cake is cooked, leave it to cool on a wire cooling rack. Then, you need to seal your cake if you are going to put ganache or icing on top. The best way to do that is to use apricot jam. My dad always told me to cook the jam first so that it sticks nicely to the cake, is not too thick and sets well when cooled. I usually take about 100g apricot jam and cook it in the mixing bowl 2 Min. / 100C / Speed 1. Then I use a good quality pastry brush and brush all over the cooled cake. Leave that to set and cool before commencing with your icing. This is the best way to lock in the biggest crumbs and the moisture. It will also help your icing to stick better.
8. Ice your cake in stages.
When I ice my cake, whether it is with buttercream or ganache, I always do it in stages. The first coating is always thin and serves only one purpose: to even out the cake. It may be that the cake cracked slightly open in the oven or it is not quite as straight as I wanted but this first coating will help even it out. Place in the fridge to cool for at least 30 minutes before doing your final coating.
Now that you have got all my secret tips you can go off and make the most wonderful Thermomix cakes at home. Click here for some great recipes and inspiration.