HomeFoodRising star: how to make cakes fluffy and delicious

Rising star: how to make cakes fluffy and delicious

Cake! Do I have your attention? Because who doesn’t like cake, whether it’s a decadent black forest cake or just a simple vanilla tea cake, there’s something for everyone.

We love them with filling, we love them with icing, we love them orange-flavoured and with nuts, but one thing we don’t love is a flat, lacklustre cake. A rubbery cake, a sad cake, no-one wants that.

So how do you make your cakes delightfully fluffy? Here’s a guide to get your neighbours talking about your delicious, delectable, airy-fairy cake.

In the beginning

Your next best fluffy cake starts with flour, and that flour is cake flour.

What’s cake flour you ask? Well, I have gone to the source, or as I call it the Lighthouse Baking website as they are the largest suppliers of cake flour in Australia.

According to Lighthouse, cake flour has a lower level of protein than all-purpose flour. More proteins mean less gluten formation, which makes your cakes lighter and fluffier.

Gluten makes things chewier, which is awesome in bread, but a big no-no in cakes.

Honestly, the science is much more complicated, but I can’t be bothered explaining it here. Just take my word for it.

It’s available at larger supermarkets or you can make your own.

To make your own, remove two tablespoons of flour from one cup of flour, then add two tablespoons of cornflour. Sift together. Sift it a couple of times for the best results.

This works because cornflour is gluten and protein free, so it displaces a certain amount of protein and gluten in normal flour.

There are also some arguments for making your own self-raising flour if the recipe calls for it, and I can get behind it.

Self-raising flour contains baking powder, and its active ingredients degrade over time. So unless you are using your self-raising regularly, make your own self-raising flour by simply adding two teaspoons of baking powder to one cup of plain flour.


Did I mention sifting? Good, because for a fluffy cake you are going to have go for it.

Sifting adds air and will make your batter lighter.  

Use a fine-grade sifter and do it twice. 

Be accurate

Now is not the time to wing it. If the recipe says six level teaspoons, you’d better well measure six level teaspoons.

A good cake recipe is a delicate balance. Don’t destroy it by faffing about with the measurements unless you are highly confident in your abilities.

Cool running

Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature.

A good cake starts with a smooth batter and that’s easier if all the ingredients are at the same temperature.

Room temperature ingredients form an emulsion, or mix together easier, and it’s the emulsion that traps air into your batter.

If it makes it easier, imagine trying to mix cold butter with flour. You’d get a nasty lumpy mix. Room temperature butter would still be hard, but you’d get there eventually.

Batter up

Please, please don’t overmix the batter. You are not adding air into it, but instead setting yourself up for major cake disappointment.

Once again, it’s science to the rescue.

Flour has gluten that when combined with a liquid starts to ‘activate’ and develop. As mentioned above, gluten makes things chewy. The more you agitate the batter, the more you activate the gluten and the chewier the baking product.

That’s why bread recipes ask you to knead for what seems like hours. 

So keep a light hand with the batter, which is better, and you won’t be bitter about the result.


If you are using a recipe that requires whisking butter and sugar together, don’t give it a ‘close enough’ whisk. Beat that thing until it’s pale and soft and smooth. This will incorporate air into the batter, and air makes a cake fluffy.

Hot, hot, hot

Make sure your oven is the correct temperature. Failure to bring it to the right temperature before you drop your masterpiece in can mean a soggy bottom or burnt edges. Honour your cake-baking skills and make sure your oven is good to go before popping your piece of art in.

Do you have any cake tips? Why not share them in the comments section below?

Also read: Cake myths you need to stop believing

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.
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