Kiwi baking queen The Caker shares her best tips for the perfect cake

Must See 17/05/2022

Jordan Rondell, better known as The Caker, is making huge moves with her cake-making talents overseas while her beautiful boxed cake kits are becoming cult favourites here at home. 

She started a small cakery in Auckland in 2010 when she was just 21 - and found so much success that she was able to expand her business to Los Angeles, where she now lives. 

Her kits are now sold at retail giants like Urban Outfitters, so we thought who better than to share her top five baking tricks and tips on World Baking Day?

INGREDIENTS
The quality of the ingredients you use will undoubtedly affect your end product. When it comes to chocolate, I always use 72% cocoa solid Callebaut chocolate buttons, which are completely dairy-free, gently bitter and melt like a dream. 

Real Dutch-process cocoa powder is entirely different to regular cocoa powder. Free-range eggs go without saying. 

Woman licking chocolate spoon

Most of my recipes call for ground almonds. Yes, this is an expensive ingredient, but it’s so worth it – and will greatly improve the flavour, texture and nutrition of your baking. 

You must be as accurate as possible when measuring ingredients - adding even a little too much sugar can cause your cake to sink in the middle. Digital scales help with this.

BEATING YOUR BATTER
Unless specified, all cake batters should be beaten with a standing electric mixer – I swear by my Kenwood machines – using the paddle attachment (the whisk attachment is only for beating eggs and cream).  

I've been using the new Kenwood Chef Baker, which has an inbuilt weighing system and the bowl is HUGE meaning you can make multiple batters at once. 

Jordan Rondell

Creaming butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy will take a minimum of 3 - 4 minutes on high speed. Your butter should be at room temperature, or it won’t cream properly.

When it comes to combining dry ingredients, overmixing a batter which contains gluten will result in a tough crumb. Flour needs to be only just incorporated at low speed or even by hand.

BAKING YOUR CAKE
For baking you always want the oven to be set to fan-bake mode so that there is an even distribution of heat. Always preheat your oven well in advance – usually about 20 minutes. 

Really get to know your oven. Some ovens are hotter than others, some cook more from the top, bottom, left or right. 

Cake coming out of the oven

The easiest ways to know if your cake is done are if it's golden in colour, springy to the touch, and if a skewer comes out clean when stuck in the centre.

It is important to not open the oven during the first 10–15 minutes of baking time because this is the most crucial period for the oven temperature to be constant.

ICING AND DECORATING YOUR CAKE
Your cake must be completely cool before icing it, even a bit of warmth will melt the icing and create a big mess.

Use an offset palette knife to smooth a layer of icing on the top of your cake, and, if you want to ice the sides too, place more icing on top and then gently push it towards the edges of the cake, rotating as you work. 

When it comes to adorning cakes with pretty things, I try not to overthink the placement too much and just let my hands lead the way. 

I think odd numbers always look best, and I like to use no more than three different colours in most cases. 

Apart from flowers, some other decorations I love are: 

  • Freeze-dried berries and other fruits

  • Lemon curd or berry coulis

  • Chopped up pistachios

  • Dried rose petals

  • Turkish delight 

  • Gold or silver leaf

  • Crushed up meringue

CUTTING AND SERVING YOUR CAKE
To avoid cutting a messy slice, always use a long, sharp, non-serrated knife. It’s important to wipe the blade clean between cuts. Now it’s finally time to taste what you’ve baked! 

Choose a plate or bowl, and a fork or spoon that you like, maybe make a cup of tea or coffee or pour a glass of wine or champagne. 

Serve what you’ve made with a dollop of yoghurt, cream, mascarpone or ice cream if you think that’s appropriate. Close your eyes and take your first bite. Revel in the deliciousness of what’s in your mouth. Go back for more.

Love, 

Jordan