How To: The Formula to Making a Perfect Cake Without a Recipe

The Formula to Making a Perfect Cake Without a Recipe

Baking a cake is relatively easy... if you happen to have a cookbook or some boxed cake mix nearby. And though you can use the internet or your favorite cooking app, it can be nice to just cook without a recipe. That seems impossible with baking, which is such an exact science, but it's actually relatively easy.

Baking is all about ratios. If you know the right ratios, you don't need recipes. And while you'll likely always need to consult a cookbook to make German chocolate cake or cherry cheesecake, you won't need a recipe to make a simple but perfect cake. All you need is to remember an exceptionally simple ratio.

The 1:1:1:1 Ratio

A basic cake is composed of four ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, and eggs.

By using equal amounts (in weight) of each of these ingredients, you'll be able to make a perfect pound cake (fun fact: pound cake got its name because it is composed of one pound of each of these ingredients).

Add in a little bit of baking powder, and any flavorings that you want (a dash of vanilla and some citrus zest will make for a restaurant-quality dessert), and you'll have a beautiful, light, airy cake.

Start by weighing your eggs, as it's hard to add and subtract specific amounts of egg. Then replicate that weight with the other ingredients. Beat the butter (make sure it's softened) with the sugar, then add the egg and the flour, as well as any other additions. Then bake it in the oven at 375°F until it's done!

No Scale? No Problem!

Many people don't have a kitchen scale, which seems like it would make it impossible to follow this ratio. But don't worry! You don't actually need a scale. While a scale will produce the best results (because eggs, flour, and sugar vary in weight, depending on the product), you can use simple measurements to get a great cake as well.

I've made the weight-based cake numerous times, using different flours, sugars, and eggs, and have discovered a measurement that's pretty accurate, and always delicious: for every two eggs, add one stick of butter, ½ cup sugar, and ¾ cup flour. Works like a charm, and no recipe required!

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Photos by Brady Klopfer/Food Hacks

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