The intermediate baker already has some experience and practice in baking. She mastered the easy cakes like muffins, cupcakes, simple pound cakes, and even some of the easier roll cakes as shown in the Beginner Part of the baking journey.
Now it’s time to step up to the next level of baking! 🙂
This part of the baking journey is a lot of fun. You learn about new types of pastries and extend your repertoire of cakes.
First, let’s have a look at the tools…
One nice thing about baking is that you can grow your “tool box” slowly over time. You don’t need heavy investments to get started. The simple tools shown in the Beginner Part are enough to get going.
Over time you can then add more and more tools to your arsenal when needed.
A very useful tool for a baker are cake rings. A cake ring is a simple metal ring that is used instead of a traditional cake pan. They come in different sizes. For the beginning, a single ring with 18 cm (7”) diameter and 5 cm (2”) height is enough.
When you use larger (or smaller) rings, you can always convert my recipes to your ring size with the pan conversion tool.
A variation I use often, too, is the 18 cm (7”) cake frame. It’s the same as a cake ring, just in square shape. 🙂
Same cakes need special pans. For example, to make a chiffon cake, you will need an angel food pan.
As explained below, chiffon cakes need to cool down in an inverted position after baking. That’s the reason why angel food pans have a higher inner tube (or some extra “feet” along the border) so they can stand upside down.
Special molds are also used for petit fours. There are endless variations of these petit fours molds and you can collect more and more of them over time. 🙂
Now it’s also time to invest in a piping bag and a set of piping tips. It’s useful for decorating cakes with whipped cream or buttercream. Here are some examples:
Another tool that makes life easier for the intermediate baker is a probe thermometer. It’s mainly used to measure the temperature of a liquid while on heat and it’s very helpful for making perfect Italian meringue or a pate a bombe. Both are used for many intermediate and advanced cakes.
Cakes for the intermediate baker
These are some of the fluffiest and softest cakes on earth.
They feel like a light foam in the mouth. Combined with a sauce or whipped cream, they turn into a culinary experience that your guests will talk about for some time. 🙂
A chiffon cake is so light and fluffy that it needs to cool upside down in the cake pan! Otherwise, it would collapse under it’s own weight after baking. Therefore, use an angel food pan and do not grease the pan (the cake would fall out of the pan in the inverted position).
Alternatively, if you don‘t have an angel food pan (with a high inner tube), use a 2-part tube pan and place it upside down on a glass bottle for cooling. Practice this before baking. 😉
Choux pastry is used for a large variety of delicious treats.
It’s the perfect cake to practice choux pastry. And everyone LOVES cream puffs. 🙂
Choux pastry is made by mixing the flour (all at once) into the hot milk and then adding egg little by little. During baking, the liquids in the batter turn into steam and let the choux pastry grow quickly.
It is important to pre-heat the oven well and also stick to the exact baking procedure. Otherwise, the choux pastry will collapse during or after baking.
TIP: If you want your choux pastry to grow larger in the oven, brush or spray the pastry with water right before baking. This delays the building of a crust for a short time. The pastry can expand longer before the surface firms and the growth stops.
Choux pastry is used in many different cakes. Examples are:
Coffee Roll (with an extra choux pastry layer),
Flockensahne Cake (with layers of choux pastry),
Yeast comes in two different forms: dry yeast (powder) and fresh yeast (in the refrigerated shelf). You can use both for baking. When a recipe asks for dry yeast but you only have fresh yeast, then use the double amount (i.e. weight) of fresh yeast instead.
The yeast converts sugar into carbon dioxide. This process is called fermentation. It gives the yeast cakes their fine pored texture and also adds to the typical flavor.
Many yeast doughs use bread flour instead of all purpose flour. The reason is that the additional gluten is needed to increase the gas retention capacity of the dough.
For example, when you make a yeast dough and set it aside for fermentation, the volume of the dough will increase quickly. During fermentation, the yeast produces gas (carbon dioxide) that increases the volume of the dough (like a balloon). Without the gluten, the gas would just leave the dough.
Actually, this happens when you let the dough ferment for too long: water evaporates from the surface of the dough and the gluten strands loose their stickiness. The dough becomes porous and loses the gas.
That’s why you should always cover the bowl with a plate or wet towel when you set the dough aside for fermentation: to reduce the dehydration of the dough and keep the gluten structures “sticky” and airtight.
Petit fours are small cakes or desserts that are perfect for a dessert buffet. They look cute and are small enough so that the guests can eat several petit fours to experience the many different flavors and textures. 🙂
Here are pictures of a dessert buffet I made some time ago:
You get the idea. 🙂
All of them are really easy to make (except for the tarte tatin and pistachio macaron, which are a bit more complicated).
More cakes for the intermediate baker
The intermediate baker finds many more exquisite cakes in the cake gallery.
Some bakers are looking for even more of a challenge. They want to make pastries like those in the most exquisite patisseries in Paris. That’s what the Advanced Part of the Baking Journey is about…
Want to try this at home?
Enjoy Keiko’s detailed cake guides and videos. Learn to bake like a chef and impress your family with your new baking skills. 🙂
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