Tips you need to know for baking in hot weather
Tuesday, June 15
The sun's out and the weather is getting warmer, which can only mean that summer is here! But even though we're enjoying the sunshine, it can actually prove problematic for cake-makers. But fear not; we've got you covered! Here's a few things to look out for and some useful tips to try when baking this summer:
TIME OF DAY IS KEY
During the warmer months, you need to be prepared to work early in the morning or later on in evening. The sun won’t be at its peak during these times and the outside temperature will be lower, so it won’t be as warm in your kitchen as you work. Alternatively, if you have any, you can pull your curtains or blind down to shut out the sun.
FEELING HOT, HOT, HOT
Everyone knows that your oven will heat up the kitchen, and this can be particularly challenging during summer. If you can, it would be worth baking your cakes a day or two before you start to decorate them. This will keep the temperature in your kitchen down and keep your cakes looking great!
BEWARE OF BUTTER
Butter is one of those things that will affect you when baking in hotter weather. The warmer your kitchen is, the faster your butter will soften. Obviously. Even though this doesn’t seem like it would be important, it is.
If you are following a recipe that calls for softened butter, you will need to check for softness sooner than usual to make sure that the butter doesn’t go too soft. If it’s too soft, it can affect the texture of your cake – you want your butter to be warm enough to work with, but not super soft it’s practically melting. Too much heat can turn it to liquid and make things incredibly oily, which you do not want.
On those super hot days, a good trick is to pop the butter in the freezer to harden it up. Frozen butter will give you a bit more time when it comes to the preparation – you won’t be under a time crunch when it comes to weighing it out and cutting it into smaller pieces, as it will be less likely to melt.
Butter again…it’s a key ingredient in many baked goods, but none more than in buttercream! Keep your buttercream in a bowl in the fridge until you need to use it. When they are soft enough to work with, mix and whip until they go back to being light and fluffy. Use straight away and make sure to put it back in the fridge when it starts to melt again.
It’s important to remember that icings and heat don’t go well together. If you are covering your bakes with buttercream icing, make sure to put them in the fridge straight away after decorating so it can firm up a little before serving.
If you are piping with buttercream, make sure you fill your piping bag with less buttercream than you usually would. This is a great top tip, as it means you won’t be handling the buttercream too much.
It’s a good idea to put your cake in the fridge before crumb coating. The cake will then be chilled the same as the buttercream and will be a lot easier to work with. Make sure you refrigerate the cake after each coat of buttercream to prevent the icing from melting and sliding off in the heat!
BURST THE BUBBLE
When covering cakes with sugarpaste, it’s not uncommon to get a few little air bubbles. However, you’ll see a lot more of these pesky bubbles when working with sugarpaste in hot temperatures! To get rid of them, use a sterilised pin and carefully prick them to release the air.
Sugarpaste can go very sticky and be hard to work with when it gets hot. So keep taking your sugarpaste in and out of the fridge to keep it cool. It’s a good idea to stick your sugarpaste in the fridge for at least 15 minutes before you start working with it – this will be a good starting point!
When you’re rolling out the sugarpaste, if it’s sticking you should use cornflour instead of icing sugar. Sugarpaste that is warm will absorb icing sugar a lot quicker than cornflour. This in turn can make the icing dry out quickly and could cause cracks and elephant skin texture when working with it. If you find that the paste is drying out, you can knead in a tiny bit of white vegetable fat.
Equally as important, do not over-knead the sugarpaste! Knead it for less time than you normally would, as it will already be warmer than usual. This will also stop the paste from getting even warmer and stickier, as your hands are going to release heat as you knead.
Unconventionally, alcohol will be your friend when you are decorating your cakes. Use a little clear alcohol (vodka or gin) instead of water when attaching decorative sugarpaste pieces to your cake creations. The reason it’s favourable during the warmer months is because it evaporates a lot quicker than water does, and also doesn’t add extra moisture into the sugarpaste.
Speaking of hands, the temperature of your hands is a much bigger issue than you would think. The average temperature of skin is 33˚C (91.4˚F) and this will only go up when the weather is warmer.
A trick to hot hands is to rinse your wrists under running cold water for a few minutes. This will help cool down your hands. It’s a good idea to do this regularly, just make sure you dry your hands properly afterwards, so you don’t add moisture to the sugarpaste!
It’s not just heat that can affect your baking; humidity can be equally as problematic. If you are baking something that has a lot of liquid or moisture in it, then it will take longer to bake than normal. There’s no set guideline for this, so you will have to judge the bake yourself to tell if it’s cooked properly.
WHAT TYPE OF CAKE?
There are many different types of cakes: some are soft and some are more dense. Softer cakes can be more problematic when baking in hot weather, as they become less stable in warmer temperatures. Soft, light sponges and fruit cakes are prone to crumbling easily in hot temperatures, whereas plain sponges that don’t include any extra wet ingredients will be better in summer. Madeira cake is an amazing choice of cake for summertime as it’s super dense and won’t be affected as much in hot weather!
If you have any nuggets of advice about baking in hot weather, get in touch and share your tips and tricks on our Facebook Page!