Baking Tips

Accurate Measuring

Slight variations in ingredient amounts can impact the outcome of baked products. Always sift Swans Down® Cake Flour before measuring, then spoon lightly into a dry measuring cup; do not pack the flour. Scrape the top of the measuring cup evenly using a straight-edged utensil to remove excess flour.



Angel Food Cake

Use only metal or glass mixing bowls when making Angel Food Cake; plastic or ceramic bowls retain oils that could disturb the rising process. When beating egg whites try not to under beat or over beat; egg whites should be stiff but not dry. To prevent air pockets, after filling the angel food cake pan with batter simply use a spatula to press the batter into the sides and bottom of pan. Or cut through the batter with a knife to remove air bubbles.

Assemble and Review All Ingredients First

Place all ingredients and equipment out on the counter before beginning, and make sure they’re at the proper temperature. This is especially important for butter and eggs; soft butter makes for a smooth batter and a lofty cake and room-temperature eggs keep the batter’s temperature consistent. To soften butter, leave it out for several hours; it should offer no resistance when pressed.

Baking Ahead of Time

A baked cake can be stored in the freezer up to six weeks. Cool the cake completely, then wrap it unfrosted first in plastic wrap, then in foil, and then place inside a zip-top plastic bag. (If there are multiple layers, each layer must be wrapped individually.) To thaw, remove the cake from the plastic bag and leave it out at room temperature while still wrapped in the foil and plastic wrap, about 3-6 hours. Once cake is almost thawed, remove foil and plastic wrap and place on a plate. Do not frost cake until it’s completely thawed.

Baking at High Altitudes

High Altitude Recipe Adjustments*

Altitude 3,000-4,000 feet 4,000-6,000 feet 6,000-7,500 feet
Reduce Baking Powder, 

per teaspoon

⅛ teaspoon ⅛-¼ teaspoon ¼ teaspoon
Reduce Sugar/Sweetener, 

per cup

1 tablespoon 1-3 tablespoons 3-4 tablespoons
Increase Liquid, 

per cup

1-2 tablespoons 2-4 tablespoons 3-4 tablespoons
Increase Baking Temperature *+ 25 °F  *+ 25 °F  * + 25 °F 

*These are general guidelines to use as a starting point. Adjust as needed for individual circumstances.

Conversion Charts for Measuring

For help with measuring Swans Down Cake Flour, butter and other ingredients found in recipes, see our handy conversion charts.

Cookies – Checking Doneness

Even a minute of baking time can make a great difference with cookies. Always check for doneness a minute or two before the stated bake time, and check often – especially if using dark-colored baking sheet, as it will absorb extra heat and possibly shorten baking time. Non-stick baking sheets with a light-colored finish are generally a good choice for cookies.

Cookies – Choosing a Cookie Sheet

When using non-stick baking sheets, watch carefully, or your cookies may brown too quickly. Shiny aluminum sheets tend to produce soft-bottomed crusts with more even browning. Dark-colored carbon-steel sheets will absorb heat and create crisp crusts. To prevent cookies from burning, choose a thick baking sheet.

Converting Swans Down Cake Flour to Self-rising Cake Flour

Sift Swans Down® Cake Flour once, then measure 1 cup and add ½ teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt to equal 1 cup self-rising cake flour. (Double for 2 cups, triple for 3 cups and so on.)

Cooling Cakes

Remove the cake from the oven, and unless directed otherwise, allow the cake to cool for 10 to 15 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack until completely cool.

Creaming Butter and Sugar

To ensure a light, delicate cake texture, unless otherwise directed in recipe, cream the butter first, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer. The butter should be room temperature and soft. Once butter is creamed, add the sugar and beat the mixture until it is smooth and fluffy.

Crispy Cookies

For a crispier cookie:

• Substitute a few tablespoons of corn syrup for the same amount of sugar.

• Use butter instead of shortening.

• Substitute some of the eggs with milk, water or cream.

Cutting Layer Cakes

For best results use a long, sharp, thin knife. Clean the knife after each cut.

Cutting Pound Cakes

For best results use a long serrated knife, and clean the knife after each slice.


Always use large eggs unless a recipe calls for otherwise. Check for freshness by cracking eggs individually into a separate bowl before adding to the other ingredients. Eggs should always be room temperature when using to make a cake.

Evenly Baked Cookies

Set the oven rack so it is in the middle of the oven from top to bottom. Always preheat the oven and use a handheld oven thermometer to make sure the oven temperature is accurate.

Expired Flour

Flour is a natural product derived from a plant, so it does have a limited shelf life. Swans Down® Cake Flour has an expiration date on the package. The fresher the ingredients, the fresher the baked goods!

Follow the Recipe

Always use the exact ingredients a recipe calls for; don’t substitute or alter. Remember, recipes are developed and tested with certain definite ingredients and instructions, and changing ingredients can change the character, texture and flavor of the baked goods.

Frosting Cakes

Unless a recipe specifically states to do otherwise, allow a cake to cool completely, for at least 2 to 4 hours, before frosting it. Frosting a warm cake will result in runny or melted frosting.

Glass Baking Dishes

Unless a recipe is written specifically for use of a glass baking dish, lower the oven temperature by 25° when using a glass. Glass heats more quickly and retains its heat longer.

Golden, Delicate Coffee Cakes

To ensure a golden, delicate and tender coffee cake, use a shiny metal baking pan.

Ingredient Quality

Fine baked goods are the result of fine ingredients. Always use the freshest, highest-quality ingredients available.

Making Do With One Cookie Sheet

In you only have one cookie sheet, line it with foil before baking the cookies. After baking, slide the foil off of the sheet and set the cookies to cool on just the foil. Rinse the sheet under cold running water and pat dry. Add a new piece of foil and lay the next batch of cookies on the sheet.

Measuring Ingredients

Measure each ingredient accurately. Use standard measuring cups and spoons and level measurements of ingredients in all recipes. Even very small inaccuracies may change the balance or proportion.

Metal Pans

Shiny metal pans reflect heat and give cakes a golden, tender crust. Shiny aluminum baking sheets tend to make soft bottom cookies while dark sheets may brown faster, creating a crisp crust.

Precise Mixing

Do not over-mix or under-mix batter. Overly prolonged mixing can cause loss of air or leavening gas in the batter, resulting in a cake that’s more dense and heavy. Conversely, under-mixing results in ingredients not being properly combined, which causes uneven cake texture and sometimes a streak at bottom of cake. In short, mix only until ingredients are completely combined and no more.

No-Mess Frosting

To keep the cake plate neat while applying frosting, place four pieces of waxed paper under the edges of the bottom cake layer, to catch drips. After frosting, carefully slide the waxed paper out and discard.

Oven Placement

Most cakes should be baked as close to the center of the oven as possible, leaving room for air circulation between pans.

Oven Temperature

Test your oven regularly for accuracy. A portable oven thermometer can tell you the exact temperature in the center (or in other parts) of the oven, making it possible to adjust the heat accurately as needed.


Prolonged mixing may cause loss of air or leavening gas and make cakes more compact and heavy with tunnels.

How to Freeze Cookies

Line an airtight container with plastic wrap, then layer cookies in the container between sheets of waxed paper. Place another sheet of waxed paper on top so cookies will avoid contact with ice crystals. Seal the container with an airtight lid.

Pan Size

Always use the right size pan. If it’s too small, the cake will spill over the sides when it rises; if it’s too big, the cake won’t rise properly. If you substitute pans, make sure the volume measure stays the same.

Placing Pans in Oven

Place pans as close to the center of the oven as possible, leaving room for heat circulation between pans.

Rack Height in Oven

Avoid burning your cake by setting a rack in the middle of the oven for cake layers (or in the lower third for a tube cake) so that the top of the pan is not too close to the top of the oven.

Preheating Oven

Always preheat the oven, making sure it reaches the required temperature before starting to mix the cake batter. Cake batter will not react properly to heat if it sits at room temperature for 10 minutes or more, waiting for the oven to heat. Nor will it rise properly if the oven continues to warm up after the pan has been placed in it. Placing the batter in the oven right after it’s mixed, and at the exact temperature required, ensures a steady heat for the duration of the baking time.

Preparing Cookie Sheets

Don’t grease sheets for cookies unless the recipe calls for you to do so, as extra fat can cause cookies to bake unevenly. Instead, line the baking sheet with parchment paper. To keep parchment paper flat on a pan, put a small dab of dough on each corner of the baking sheet.

Preparing Pans

Grease, or don’t grease, a pan exactly as the recipe dictates. Butter is generally preferred, as it gives a richer flavor. To dust a pan with flour, rotate the pan while sprinkling flour until all surfaces are covered, then discard excess flour. The recipe may also call for lining the bottom (or all) of the pan with waxed paper. Also available are non-stick cooking sprays with and without butter/flour to help prevent sticking.

Preserving Fresh Fruit

To keep fresh fruit looking fresh longer, dip it in lemon juice diluted with water.

Prevent Cakes From Sticking

For extra insurance against sticking, fit the bottom of the pan with a piece of waxed or parchment paper.

Read Through the Recipe

Cakes in particular have specific requirements, such as the temperature of ingredients, that cannot be altered. You don’t want to realize too late that the cold butter you just mixed with the sugar was supposed to be softened and at room temperature

Best Results

Always measure accurately, use only ingredients and amounts listed, and bake exactly as directed. Attention to detail and precision are always rewarded.

Room Temperature

For best results, refrigerated ingredients such as eggs and butter should be brought to room temperature before using.

Egg Temperature

It is easier to separate eggs when they are cold, but once separated, most baking recipes require that you allow them to reach room temperature before using. Egg whites will beat to a greater volume at room temperature.


Sifting cake flour is one of the most important secrets to perfect baking. Sifting removes lumps and aerates flour, so that it incorporates easily into batters. Unless a recipe specifically calls for not sifting, be sure to always sift Swans Down® Cake Flour before measuring. Then spoon the flour into a measuring cup and level it off, making sure not to pack the flour.

Storing Batter

Batter does not store well, as it does not stay properly aerated for long. For best results, bake your cake immediately after you mix the batter.

Storing Cake Flour

Flour is made from a plant, so it has a limited shelf life and should be kept cool, dry and airtight to prevent it from absorbing moisture and odors or attracting insects and rodents. Do not store near soap powder, onions or other items with strong odors. If stored in freezer; double wrap and package in an airtight, moisture-proof container and label with expiration date. If stored in refrigerator; store airtight so it will not absorb any odors in refrigerator. Be sure to bring flour to room temperature prior to mixing with other ingredients.

Storing Cookie Dough

Portion cookie dough into a 10-inch by 2½-inch round log and wrap securely in parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place wrapped cookie dough log into a re-sealable freezer bag for a double wrap to ensure quality, and label with date and recipe name for up to one month. When ready to use, remove from freezer and let thaw for a few minutes while oven is preheating. Slice according to size preferred; dough can be placed in oven while still partially frozen; just allow a minute or two longer to bake.

Storing Cookies

You can store cookies in an airtight container for a maximum of three to four months in the freezer. Store crisp cookies in a container separate from soft cookies, because they need different environments to stay fresh. Store crisp cookies between sheets of waxed paper in a loosely covered container. Store soft cookies in an airtight container so they stay moist and chewy.

Storing Egg Whites

Egg whites can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week or frozen for up to three months.

Storing Frosted Cake

Wrap in plastic wrap, then foil, and place inside of resealable plastic bag. To thaw, unwrap and place in the refrigerator overnight in airtight container to avoid absorbing any odors.

Storing Leftover Cake

Cut into individual pieces, wrap well in plastic wrap and then heavy foil and freeze for up to six weeks.

Storing Unfrosted Cake

Wrap cooled layers individually in plastic wrap, then foil; place inside a zip-top plastic bag. To thaw, remove zip-top plastic bag; leave in foil and plastic wrap. Allow 3-6 hours to thaw. Once cake is almost thawed, remove foil and plastic and place on a plate in a covered, airtight container. Wait until cake is completely thawed before applying frosting.

Testing for Doneness

When a cake is reaching doneness, it will start to pull away from the sides of the pan and the top will spring back when lightly touched. To test a cake, insert a long tester (a long strand of uncooked spaghetti works great) into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean and dry, the cake is done.


Not enough mixing results in ingredients not being fully combined, which causes a cake to have an uneven texture and sometimes streaks in the bottom half of the cake.

Uniform Baking

Spread batter evenly in the pan for uniform baking, thickness and texture.

Using Swans Down® as an All-Purpose Flour

To use Swans Down® Cake Flour in a recipe that calls for all-purpose flour, here is the conversion recipe: Use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoon of sifted Swans Down® Cake Flour (be sure to sift before measuring) for every cup of all-purpose flour.