Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

Cake help

Dessert

  • Please log in to reply
58 replies to this topic

#1 SweetSide

SweetSide
  • participating member
  • 513 posts
  • Location:Connecticut

Posted 11 September 2006 - 04:11 PM

I'm making this one cake and at the bottom of each layer there is a dense part -- sort of rubbery, but not TOO bad -- but not supposed to be there obviously. It's about 1/4 inch thick on the bottom of a 2 inch layer. I'm trying to read on what I'm doing wrong, but not following -- my books aren't good on trouble shooting.

All ingredients were room temp. Recipe uses cake flour, and the recipe as written is not at fault -- many others like it. I don't think I over mixed -- I really didn't have the mixer on that long.

Was my oven too cold? My oven is finicky some times, but it was well preheated.

Thanks!
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#2 chefpeon

chefpeon
  • participating member
  • 1,796 posts
  • Location:Tinytown, WA, USA

Posted 11 September 2006 - 04:27 PM

I had this happen to me with a cake I'd mixed a ZILLION times before. I made the cake
as usual, and it had this heavy dense totally horrible unappealing rubbery part to the bottom of it.
I figured I must have mis-scaled something and mixed the cake and baked it again (being ultra careful the second time). It STILL came out with a rubbery bottom. I tried a third time. Rubbery bottom. I was SURE I'd scaled everything correctly, mixed it like I did a zillion times before and
I could not get that recipe to come out, no matter what. It totally stumped and upset me, because I'd never had a problem before. I just finally could not figure it out, and I've never used that recipe again.

To this day, I still can't tell you what went wrong. When I check cake troubleshooting guides, some possible causes are too much liquid, too much eggs, or not enough mixing. That would be all well and good except for the fact that my cake was fine the zillion other times I made it.....why not now?
It totally goes against all scientific explanation or logic. It still bugs me!!! :angry: :wacko:

I wish I could help you. Maybe someone can help us. :rolleyes:

#3 SweetSide

SweetSide
  • participating member
  • 513 posts
  • Location:Connecticut

Posted 11 September 2006 - 04:36 PM

Thanks -- I'm glad I'm not alone chefpeon and now I don't feel so bad since you've got so much more experience than me. Sometimes when simple things go wrong I question my abilities....

I'm thinking, since I always worry about over-mixing, that maybe I didn't mix it enough?

Anyone else?
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#4 RDCollins

RDCollins
  • participating member
  • 43 posts
  • Location:Hermosa Beach, California

Posted 11 September 2006 - 04:45 PM

It sounds like it didn't rise properly, so I'd say back to basics:

Make sure the butter and sugar are well creamed before adding the other ingredients.

Make sure your baking powder is fresh.

Have everything at room temperature, especially the butter.

Measure carefully -- baking is like chemistry, and ratios of ingredients matter greatly.

Mix thoroughly, but don't over beat the batter once the flour has been added.

Run a knife around the pan to get out any large air bubbles once the batter is in the pans.

Check the oven temperature -- buy a good oven thermometer and do not rely on the dial.

Cook by feel, not by time -- time is only approximate; cake should bounce back when lightly touched, not leave goo on a toothpick stuck in the center, and should just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan when it is done.

Cool on a rack; handle gently until fully cooled.
Douglas Collins
Hermosa Beach, California

Un dîner sans vin est comme un jour sans soleil.

#5 SweetSide

SweetSide
  • participating member
  • 513 posts
  • Location:Connecticut

Posted 11 September 2006 - 05:11 PM

Check, check, check, .... Ran through those bases in my head

This is ticking me off, so I've been pondering, and I think I have another wrench to throw in the works...

I have issues with oven temp fluctuations, so I put a baking stone in my oven. After that, perfect genoise (last cake issue).

I had an angel food with a dense bottom -- oh foo. For that, I had to lower the rack to the rung above the stone due to the height of the pan.

For this cake, the rack was again on the rung just above the stone, which is on the lowest rack (sucking up my oven space). The recipe had said to bake in the lower third of the oven and usually I bake cakes on the center rung of the oven.

Could my pans have been too close to the stone, preventing proper heat circulation causing the rubber bottom?

When I tested the cakes for doneness, they did not feel dense (it is only on the bottom). They were evenly browned, and nice and springy on top and had just begun to pull from the pan.
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#6 chefpeon

chefpeon
  • participating member
  • 1,796 posts
  • Location:Tinytown, WA, USA

Posted 11 September 2006 - 05:58 PM

Make sure the butter and sugar are well creamed before adding the other ingredients.

Make sure your baking powder is fresh.

Have everything at room temperature, especially the butter.

Measure carefully -- baking is like chemistry, and ratios of ingredients matter greatly.

Mix thoroughly, but don't over beat the batter once the flour has been added.

Run a knife around the pan to get out any large air bubbles once the batter is in the pans.

Check the oven temperature -- buy a good oven thermometer and do not rely on the dial.

Cook by feel, not by time -- time is only approximate; cake should bounce back when lightly touched, not leave goo on a toothpick stuck in the center, and should just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan when it is done.

Cool on a rack; handle gently until fully cooled.


And after you've done ALL that, plus called the local witch doctor and the priest.......THEN what?
My choices were:
A) Jump off a cliff, or
B) use a different recipe

I chose "B". It was easier to reach for another formula than to drive to the nearest cliff.
Good thing I'm lazy. :wacko:

I will follow this thread very closely! I can't rest until I can solve the problem I could never solve.

#7 K8memphis

K8memphis
  • participating member
  • 2,464 posts
  • Location:memphis tn

Posted 11 September 2006 - 06:02 PM

Could my pans have been too close to the stone, preventing proper heat circulation causing the rubber bottom? 

View Post


No.

Umm, wonder if it is an ingredient malfunction. Where an ingredient is not exactly like it ought to be. You using butter? Was the butter maybe melted & then chilled again--like at the store or in transit to the store--you sure it was fresh??? Was it too warm in the kitchen maybe??

#8 Sarah Phillips

Sarah Phillips
  • participating member
  • 186 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 11 September 2006 - 06:22 PM

Hi,

What kind of cake are you baking? How much is your oven temperature off? Can you please post the recipe, including the mixing methods used, so I can see what you are doing? I need as much details from the original recipe as possible in regards to the mixing and baking instructions! Who is the recipe by? Thanks!
Happy Baking! Sarah Phillips, President and Founder, http://www.baking911.com

#9 Pam R

Pam R
  • manager
  • 6,839 posts
  • Location:Winnipeg, Canada

Posted 11 September 2006 - 07:18 PM

Hi folks - just a reminder to keep the copyright rules in mind when posting recipes. Take a look at the P&B posting guidelines and follow the links for a refresher.

Thanks,
Pam

#10 SweetSide

SweetSide
  • participating member
  • 513 posts
  • Location:Connecticut

Posted 12 September 2006 - 02:00 AM

Hi,

What kind of cake are you baking? How much is your oven temperature off? Can you please post the recipe, including the mixing methods used, so I can see what you are doing? I need as much details from the original recipe as possible in regards to the mixing and baking instructions! Who is the recipe by? Thanks!

View Post


The recipe is HERE, and was originally linked to in the Yellow and White cake thread.

With the oven stone in, my temperature has been fairly steady. But, without it, I was getting 50F fluctuations and my genoise's were falling.

Butter was fine and fresh -- has that nice plastic feel to it with no signs of prior melting where the oils would separate from the solids. Creamed nicely till pale and fluffy.

Kitchen wasn't too warm -- it's been very chilly here so the windows are closed, and when I made the cake I think the kitchen was around 65F.

Only chemical leavener was baking powder (no soda). It has good reaction when I pour hot water on some...
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#11 Sarah Phillips

Sarah Phillips
  • participating member
  • 186 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 12 September 2006 - 06:05 AM

SweetSide,

Thank you so much for the information. I think there are PERHAPS two issues going on.

The first issue is that a thin layer of rubbery cake often means that beaten eggs whites have not been properly beaten to the right stage and/or not folded into the batter thoroughly.

The second issue may be with your baking stone - when you lowered the cake close to it, it was if you were baking the cake on the floor of the oven - you placed the source of the heat really close to the bottom of the pan and baked the bottom of the cake like pancake batter on a griddle!

Plus, I am familiar with Sylvia Weinstock's Recipe. I have baked it before many times. I helped someone else with this cake recipe because they also had problems with it.

The recipe is an excellent one - it's not the recipe that is a problem - it's that it can be a delicate recipe to execute. Meaning, you have to follow it to the letter to have it turn out properly - the last step of folding the egg whites into the batter can be tricky. You have to make sure you beat the egg whites to the right stage and then gingerly fold them into the batter in the end. Also, the cake should be baked in the middle of the oven shelf placed on the middle rung. (In S Weinstock's recipe, when I beat the egg whites, I took a few tablespoons of sugar from the recipe and used them to beat with the whites to help strengthen them. They kept their shape better for folding and did not leach water as much or separate as much when I did the folding action = less water).

You mentioned you had a similar issue with an Angel Food Cake which is also a cake that uses beaten egg whites folded with flour.

You may want to brush up on your egg white beating and folding techniques.

The second issue is the fact that you oven's temperature is off, as you know, is a big problem. So, you added a baking stone to help solve the problem.

But, as I mentioned before, when you bake a foam-type cake or one that requires beaten egg whites, the stone may be producing too much heat too close to the cake. If you chose not to get your oven fixed, which is the obvious solution, I would place the stone on the floor of the oven, not the shelf right below the cake, and see if your cakes bake better! If that's not an option, then.....

I said there may be two issues, but I will add a third -- a bottom rubbery layer also means too much liquid in the recipe. (See my note above about beating egg whites with sugar in the recipe which will help strengthen the egg white foam). That can happen from mismeasuring, etc etc - How did you measure the 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour?

And fourth??? I baked the cake in two, 9 x 2-inch cake pans and had great success - I did not test it in 2, 8 x 3-inch pans as the recipe suggests - perhaps the 3-inch pan depth caused an issue??

I hope this advice helps! In all, I really think your issue of a rubbery layer has something to do with the egg whites -- beating and folding, and having the cake placed so close to the baking stone!

Edited by Sarah Phillips, 12 September 2006 - 07:31 AM.

Happy Baking! Sarah Phillips, President and Founder, http://www.baking911.com

#12 K8memphis

K8memphis
  • participating member
  • 2,464 posts
  • Location:memphis tn

Posted 12 September 2006 - 11:45 AM

Sarah, you are the bomb on this stuff!

Cheryl, I make this and love it. But I use one unbeaten whole egg plus three unbeaten egg whites. I've made it in a wide variety of pan sizes. You baked it at 350 right? Or as close as your oven got you?? Wonder if it would work better if you jacked your oven to 375?

Umm, have you tried making it at work???

#13 SweetSide

SweetSide
  • participating member
  • 513 posts
  • Location:Connecticut

Posted 12 September 2006 - 11:56 AM

Thanks Sarah, and some reply comments to your suggestions...

A new oven is not possible at this time, nor is placing the stone on the bottom of the oven. The heating element for my oven is on the floor, and I can't place the stone on it.

The only time I had a problem with the Angel food cake is when that stone was right below it, so we may be on to something here but...

I am going back to egg white school. I'm ginger -- I don't smash those things in there -- but sometimes I think I'm too ginger. It would be great to have someone looking over your shoulder again. I'm not going to rule this out.

As for the pans, I did use the recommended 8 x 3. For the cake flour, I really like weights, so, I sifted flour then weighed a cup of it and got 3.7 oz. For the 2 1/4 cups, I used 8.3 oz. Too much? Too little? I'm riding the weight bandwagon here...

K8, I know you like this cake -- and I think I will too if... No, I haven't tried it at work, and I did bake it at 350F, and I will try again.
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#14 Squirrelly Cakes

Squirrelly Cakes
  • legacy participant
  • 81 posts

Posted 12 September 2006 - 12:13 PM

Well, I have baked it in 8x3 inch deep pans, no problems though of course I didn't get full three inch deep cakes. It is not a super high rising cake.

I doubt the soda was an issue but none of the typical tests we always thought indicated our baking soda was fresh, are considered valid anymore.

See:
http://www.arm-hamme...basics/magic/#6
There is no easy test for determining the acceptability of baking soda beyond the expiration date which appears on the bottom of every box of ARM & HAMMER® Baking Soda. For those uses that require optimum performance, such as baking, we recommend purchasing a fresh box.

In addition to all of the valuable points others have made, I would like to add this. I don't bake it in the lower third, I bake this recipe in the middle of the oven. I rarely bake any cakes in the lower third even when it is called for. Personally, in my oven, I find that far too close to the lower heating element. I have a Jenn-air convection electric oven. I also never bake on convection, just don't like the results with cakes. But that is just my personal opinion based on my personal experience.

I would say if your oven is fluctuating that much, that could create a lot of problems with almost anything. I guess if this is a choice, I would suggest getting the oven looked at by a qualified repair man. Perhaps it can be re-calibrated or the thermostat can be repaired or replaced. Otherwise it will always be hit or miss when baking with an oven in this condition. I give you a lot of credit for having the patience to try to compensate for it though!

I don't think the baking stone is a good idea for most cakes. To me, that is another issue. I suspect that is the problem, the bottoms of the cakes are too close to the heat source, in this case the baking stone. Plus perhaps how you mixed it might have been a problem.

Another point, I make several cakes where the egg whites are folded in separately and they work well. But one thing I would suggest for someone not familar with that method, often people fail to incorporate the egg whites well when they fold in. Remember you also need to fold in egg whites to the batter at the bottom of the bowl. This often is an area that gets neglected.

I find that folding in one third of the whites really well and then folding in the remaining egg whites in two batches, works best for me.

Don't overbeat your egg whites. You don't want them to be like foamy styrofoam blobs that you can pick up, you want them stiiff and glossy where they just make stiff peaks. Most people overbeat their egg whites.

And one more thing to make note of is you will not get the same results if you are using pasteurized eggs. They just do not work the same way. Omega-3 eggs are pasteurized. Perhaps others won't agree but this has been my own personal experience.

This isn't my favourite white/yellow cake out there. But it is ok.

My new all-time favourite white cake recipe is the recipe in the Spring 2006 Martha Stewart "Weddings" page 326, "White Butter Cakes". It is the foundation of the recipe for her Neapolitan Cake. I would highly recommend it. It makes 6 cups of batter but it isn't a high riser. I use an 8x3 inch round pan for the whole six cups and get about a 2 1/2 inch high cake. I have been searching for what I feel is the perfect white cake for about 42 years. And this is as close as I have been able to get. Can you tell I am excited about it, haha!

Good luck to you, I hope you get better results next time. You have received a lot of good advice, things to try and check.

Edited by Squirrelly Cakes, 12 September 2006 - 12:14 PM.


#15 Sarah Phillips

Sarah Phillips
  • participating member
  • 186 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 12 September 2006 - 12:39 PM

Thanks, Squirrelly Cakes. You always have great suggestions!

And, K8 memphis, Thanks! I like you idea of using one whole egg instead of all egg whites. It helps strengthen the cake.

Chefpeon, you always crack me up and bring into focus what we'd all really want to do with some of these recipes!

The only time I had a problem with the Angel food cake is when that stone was right below it, so we may be on to something here but...

I am going back to egg white school.  I'm ginger -- I don't smash those things in there -- but sometimes I think I'm too ginger.  It would be great to have someone looking over your shoulder again.  I'm not going to rule this out.

As for the pans, I did use the recommended 8 x 3.  For the cake flour, I really like weights, so, I sifted flour then weighed a cup of it and got 3.7 oz.  For the 2 1/4 cups, I used 8.3 oz.  Too much?  Too little?  I'm riding the weight bandwagon here...

K8, I know you like this cake -- and I think I will too if...  No, I haven't tried it at work, and I did bake it at 350F, and I will try again.

View Post


And, SweetSide,

I have had to go to egg white and folding school many times, myself....

Yes, and the problem with the baking stone...

But, here we go again with the measuring of the flour.....Not you - but all of us! You can't weigh one cup of flour just by weighing one cup of flour because you don't know what weight Sylivia Weinstock used for her recipe. You have to figure it out by coverting the recipe and then running tests. Is that what you did?

We were discussing measuring flour in another egullet thread which I can't find now - maybe someone can find it. What I suggest to home bakers who want to weigh ingredients for a recipe measured in volume measurements is that you need to convert the recipe to weights. Here's the only way you can do it:

1. First measure the recipe in volume measurements. Then, weigh the measurements.
2. Bake the recipe. If the cake comes out right, then use the weight measurements you derived from the volume measurements. Mark them down in your recipe.

If the recipe does not work, then go back to step 1 until the recipe bakes properly and you can write down the correct weights used in the particular recipe.

You cannot simply assume what 1 cup of flour weighs. Every person reading this post will weigh 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour differently - I sift the flour directly into the measuring cup and level to top. Some sift the flour onto a piece of parchment paper and then measure the flour. (Some may measure the flour and then sift it.) Flour brands differ and so do weights.

When I baked Syvlia Weinstock's cake for the first time, it had a slight dip in the center. When I measured 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour for the recipe for the first time, I usually sift the flour into the measuring cup as I mentioned before, but because of the dip in the center, the second time, I switched to sifting the flour on a piece of wax paper and then measuring it. The dip in the center of the cake disappeared because the cake needed a bit more flour which is what you will get when you measure the flour with my seond technique. That's probably how Ms. Weinstock measured the sifted flour in her recipe! (I did not weigh my second and more accurate measurements because I would have shared the results with you.....)

Try the recipe again by measuring it with volume measurements, and then by the way, weigh the ingredients to see what you get. That will tell you what a ballpark weight measurement should be. THEN, bake the recipe and let us know if it turns out! If it bakes ok, then mark down the weight measurements you used for subsequent recipes.

Now, your test may not be a good one because you have this baking stone in the oven.....but, see if the cake improves.....You did have good luck before!

And, bake it in the middle of the middle shelf at 350 degrees F.

K8Memphis and Squirrelly Cakes - I know you are both excellent bakers! How did you measure the flour? Sifting into the measuring cup directly or sifting onto a piece of wax paper and then measuring. I am just curious!

Edited by Sarah Phillips, 12 September 2006 - 12:48 PM.

Happy Baking! Sarah Phillips, President and Founder, http://www.baking911.com

#16 SweetSide

SweetSide
  • participating member
  • 513 posts
  • Location:Connecticut

Posted 12 September 2006 - 01:09 PM

But, here we go again with the measuring of the flour.....Not you - but all of us! You can't weigh one cup of flour just by weighing one cup of flour because you don't know what weight Sylivia Weinstock used for her recipe. You have to figure it out by coverting the recipe and then running tests. Is that what you did?

We were discussing measuring flour in another egullet thread which I can't find now - maybe someone can find it. What I suggest to home bakers who want to weigh ingredients for a recipe measured in volume measurements is that you need to convert the recipe to weights. Here's the only way you can do it:

1. First measure the recipe in volume measurements. Then, weigh the measurements.
2. Bake the recipe. If the cake comes out right, then use the weight measurements you derived from the volume measurements. Mark them down in your recipe.

If the recipe does not work, then go back to step 1 until the recipe bakes properly and you can write down the correct weights used in the particular recipe.

You cannot simply assume what 1 cup of flour weighs. Every person reading this post will weigh 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour differently - I sift the flour directly into the measuring cup and level to top. Some sift the flour onto a piece of parchment paper and then measure the flour. (Some may measure the flour and then sift it.) Flour brands differ and so do weights.

When I baked Syvlia Weinstock's cake for the first time, it had a slight dip in the center. When I measured 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour for the recipe for the first time, I usually sift the flour into the measuring cup as I mentioned before, but because of the dip in the center, the second time, I switched to sifting the flour on a piece of wax paper and then measuring it. The dip in the center of the cake disappeared because the cake needed a bit more flour which is what you will get when you measure the flour with my seond technique. That's probably how Ms. Weinstock measured the sifted flour in her recipe! (I did not weigh my second and more accurate measurements because I would have shared the results with you.....)

Try the recipe again by measuring it with volume measurements, and then by the way, weigh the ingredients to see what you get. That will tell you what a ballpark weight measurement should be. THEN, bake the recipe and let us know if it turns out! If it bakes ok, then mark down the weight measurements you used for subsequent recipes.

Now, your test may not be a good one because you have this baking stone in the oven.....but, see if the cake improves.....You did have good luck before!

And, bake it in the middle of the middle shelf at 350 degrees F.

K8Memphis and Squirrelly Cakes - I know you are both excellent bakers! How did you measure the flour? Sifting into the measuring cup directly or sifting onto a piece of wax paper and then measuring. I am just curious!

View Post


Ok, tonight will be the test. My ingredients are coming to room temp as I write...

Just for clarification, because I tend to abbreviate leaving out what I assume other people already know. I didn't just assume how much a cup of cake flour weighs. First, I looked it up for sifted and not sifted in a couple of sources as a reference point for my own measuring. Then I sifted my flour onto parchment, spooned it in into a cup measure leveled it then weighed it. Did it again -- both cups weighed the same. Didn't weigh that last 1/4 cup. I was a contributor on that flour weight thread, and am in that "eighth circle of hell". Had the cake sunk in the middle like yours did, I would have known I was light on the flour. Didn't expect the rubber....

K8 and Squirelly Cakes, I too am interested in what your cup of sifted cake flour weighs and how you measure it which is why I posted what I got mine to weigh....

And, just for reference -- I'm not being defensive or offended -- I am baking this at home, but I am not a home baker. I've been out of school only a year now, but I am a professional who has gone to pastry school and work as a baker/pastry chef. And that, as we can see, doesn't mean that I don't have anything more to learn!

At work I also make a cake with the egg whites folded in separately (uses 20 whites to give you a volume size), and haven't had a problem at all. So I know that I can do this at least most of the time. Maybe that's why this is ticking me off -- because I really do want to know exactly what needs work. I fold in the same manner that Squirrelly Cakes outlined.

And, I won't be baking in the lower third of the oven this time. I'll stick with the middle like I usually do.

And I'll post back what I find. Last one I decorated to the nines -- this one is just gonna be nekkid cake.
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#17 Squirrelly Cakes

Squirrelly Cakes
  • legacy participant
  • 81 posts

Posted 12 September 2006 - 01:15 PM

I prefer to use cups when cups are called for in a recipe and weights when weights are called for. Also, from what I gather, you folks have some flours in the U.S. that weigh substantially more or less than others even though they are all cake flours. So unless you know exactly what flour brand was used and exactly how much weight the originator got for the cup equivalency, you are never going to find two people getting exactly the same measurement even with weighing as not all scales are exactly the same or used exactly the same. Recipes should allow for the minute differences.

When a recipe calls for sifting before measuring, I sift onto waxed paper or into a bowl and then spoon and sweep. I just have always done it that way and it works well for me. Often I sift cake flour before measuring even if this is not called for. I find in most recipes, this works best for me. For example in the Martha Stewart recipe I referred to, it doesn't call for sifting before measuring, but this worked well. And actually I have made both cakes using our Canadian Robin Hood Cake and Pastry Flour and it also worked well instead of cake flour.

And the dip in the centre would be how I would determine if I should indeed measure and then sift as opposed to sift and then measure when it isn't stated in the method. I find often when it isn't stated and I just measure without sifting, I get a cake that is more on the slightly dry side. This indicates to me to try the recipe again but the next time, sifting before measuring. And this works for me.

I find often recipes with sour cream in them do dip a bit in the centre, it doesn't usually cause any other issues so it is something I can live with. This is quite often the case with a very rich cake. Of course a cake will also dip in the centre when cooling if the centre was not completely cooked.

I would post my own worded version of the Martha recipe but after reading the copyright guidelines of Egullet, it appears that it is not exactly a popular thing to do. So though I changed my method and used a couple of variances, I would rather not take a chance of upsetting anyone by doing so.

#18 Sarah Phillips

Sarah Phillips
  • participating member
  • 186 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 12 September 2006 - 01:20 PM

Just for clarification, because I tend to abbreviate leaving out what I assume other people already know.  I didn't just assume how much a cup of cake flour weighs.  First, I looked it up for sifted and not sifted in a couple of sources as a reference point for my own measuring.  Then I sifted my flour onto parchment, spooned it in into a cup measure leveled it then weighed it.  Did it again -- both cups weighed the same.  Didn't weigh that last 1/4 cup.  I was a contributor on that flour weight thread, and am in that "eighth circle of hell".  Had the cake sunk in the middle like yours did, I would have known I was light on the flour.  Didn't expect the rubber....

K8 and Squirelly Cakes, I too am interested in what your cup of sifted cake flour weighs and how you measure it which is why I posted what I got mine to weigh....

And, just for reference -- I'm not being defensive or offended -- I am baking this at home, but I am not a home baker.  I've been out of school only a year now, but I am a professional who has gone to pastry school and work as a baker/pastry chef.  And that, as we can see, doesn't mean that I  don't have anything more to learn!

At work I also make a cake with the egg whites folded in separately (uses 20 whites to give you a volume size), and haven't had a problem at all.  So I know that I can do this at least most of the time.  Maybe that's why this is ticking me off -- because I really do want  to know exactly what needs work.  I fold in the same manner that Squirrelly Cakes outlined.

And, I won't be baking in the lower third of the oven this time.  I'll stick with the middle like I usually do.

And I'll post back what I find.  Last one I decorated to the nines -- this one is just gonna be nekkid cake.


Dear SweetSide,

I am sorry I sounded condescending to you. I know you have been on my site and have mentioned you went to school and worked as a chef. Please accept my apologies.

All I can say is that I make this exact cake from Sylvia Weinstock because another baker had a problem with it -- another experienced baker who wrote to me with another issue. I baked the recipe to see and I had a problem with it the first time myself, as I explained.

I am an experienced baker and had an issue with it. I think it is because, as I explained earlier, it is a finicky cake and it depends how you measure the flour -- which we know can be wide open to interpretation. I think one must follow the recipe EXACTLY for it to turn out. One variation, such as mismeasuring the flour, as I mentioned I had done the first time, caused the cake to dip in the center. So, perhaps the way you measured the flour caused a problem - that's why I asked. A lot of recipes fail because of how one interprets how the flour is to be measured. I am just trying to help you find a solution.

I am methodically looking for a solution - we may not find it because of the baking stone in your oven.....Or, it could be the proximity of the cake to the baking stone and be as simple as that! When I solve a baking problem, I look at everything that may be a potential problem, whether you know how to do the step perfectly or not.

I have found that there are certain techniques in baking that cause failure more than others. There are certain ways to avoid baking failures and writing recipes and techniques so the recipe will succeed more than not and many of us are already keen on most of the reasons. So, I am just asking questions, trying to eliminate what went wrong. I did not mean to offend.

I know that this recipe is one of those that requires precision - as I experienced when I baked it. Some butter cakes are written to be as such, but some are more forgiving just by their nature or how they are written. Most cakes using folded egg whites are not very forgiving, in my opinion! Egg whites have a mind of their own and deflate readily when folded, especially when beaten without a tiny amount of sugar added to them, such as done in the Weinstock recipe.

Edited to add: Why don't you bake the cake using volume measurements and then see how the cake bakes. Take weights of your volume measurements. If the cake bakes fine, then you know that the weights used are perfect. Perhaps you may want to start narrowing down what the problem is.

And, I like what K8 suggested about baking the recipe at work! Maybe the entire problem has to do with your oven?! A great number of recipes fail because of oven problems or issues with heat or placing cakes too close or too far from the heat source. (Using the right flour also makes a difference, as you know, and on and on....)

The Weinstock recipe is a good one. I have baked it myself many times.

Edited by Sarah Phillips, 12 September 2006 - 02:28 PM.

Happy Baking! Sarah Phillips, President and Founder, http://www.baking911.com

#19 cognitivefun

cognitivefun
  • participating member
  • 97 posts

Posted 12 September 2006 - 01:35 PM

I am a novice at cakes. But I find that my Viking mixer paddle or whisk attachment doesn't mix the very bottom of the workbowl very well. When I think I have done things right for a genoise, I pour the batter onto the baking pan and see that the very bottom of the bowl wasn't as incorporated or whisked as I expected.

Has this possibility been examined?

#20 Squirrelly Cakes

Squirrelly Cakes
  • legacy participant
  • 81 posts

Posted 12 September 2006 - 01:58 PM

Good point Cognitivefun! On many machines, you can adjust the paddle to insure it goes deeper into the bowl but it is always wise to scrape the bowl bottom with your spatula to ensure ingredients are well-incorporated. In this case, that would be for the mixture before you fold in the egg whites by hand using a spatula.

Sorry SweetSide, I tend to always post in detail so regardless of the skill level or whether the person is professional or just a homebaker like me, I have covered all possibilities.

I have professionals in the family that are used to commercial products and methods and recipes and I am used to them also. But I do find that there is a difference between home baking type recipes and commercial recipes. And since this is more what I would consider a home baking recipe, I would tend to approach it that way.

I am no help with the flour weights because I am using Canadian flours.

I am just speaking from 42 years of home baking experience, not professional training.

I think the oven and the baking stone are the issue, not the recipe or method. So personally I would take the stone out and raise the position of the rack that I baked these cakes on. That would be my starting point. I cannot understand why the rack position for this recipe is lower than the middle.

Edited by Squirrelly Cakes, 12 September 2006 - 01:59 PM.


#21 K8memphis

K8memphis
  • participating member
  • 2,464 posts
  • Location:memphis tn

Posted 12 September 2006 - 02:36 PM

I am very very scientific, calculating and precise when I measure flour :rolleyes:

I totally go by 'feel', cosmic juices, alignment of the planets, etc.. I try to loosen the flour up in the bag and then I shake the flour to one side of the bag, slide the cup measure down sideways, I let the flour 'fall' over into the cup measure, being careful to remember it's not brown sugar after all. I shake some off so it's not completely full then I sift. I mean I know sifting means a shorter cup so I short it. (less in the cup)

You sorry you asked?? :biggrin:

:laugh:

PS. I baked in a large Blodgett 4 deck pizza oven with stones -- cookies, cakes, pies, biscuits, bread, rolls, everything--never had an issue. It was an awesome oven!

#22 SweetSide

SweetSide
  • participating member
  • 513 posts
  • Location:Connecticut

Posted 12 September 2006 - 02:42 PM

Dear SweetSide,

I am sorry I sounded condescending to you. I know you have been on my site and have mentioned you went to school and worked as a chef. Please accept my apologies. 

..
The Weinstock recipe is a good one. I have baked it myself many times.

View Post


Sarah, I did not find what you said condescending at all! All the explanations you give are wonderful, and I had been hoping you would chime in. I just wasn't sure if you knew that I kind of know what I'm doing, but obviously have troubles at times too. But also that this is not just the second cake I've made or that I fold with an electric mixer. Which is why I posted -- so that those of you who know all the ins and outs can say you did such and such try doing this instead. Keep doing what you are doing! Some of us really need it!

And, I know that the recipe is a good one, just that I bungled something (even as simple has having a temperamental oven) and wanted to make it come out right.

And chefpeon had an issue with her cake so I know that even the most experienced bakers/chefs have an off day.

And Squirrelly Cakes, the same goes for you -- keep posting in the detail! I am not/was not offended. I am detail oriented (some may say anal...) and all those points you list are important. That's why I posted in the first place, and that's why after pondering my predicament I mentioned the baking stone. Diagnosis needs to take into account every detail.

And cognitivefun -- yup -- learned that lesson long ago. I scrape well -- all the goo off the beaters too.

Cake is in the oven....
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#23 Sarah Phillips

Sarah Phillips
  • participating member
  • 186 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 12 September 2006 - 02:43 PM

I am very very scientific, calculating and precise when I measure flour  :rolleyes:

I totally go by 'feel', cosmic  juices, alignment of the planets, etc.. I try to loosen the flour up in the bag and then I shake the flour to one side of the bag, slide the cup measure down sideways, I let the flour 'fall' over into the cup measure, being careful to remember it's not brown sugar after all. I shake some off so it's not completely full then I sift. I mean I know sifting means a shorter cup so I short it. (less in the cup)

You sorry you asked??  :biggrin:

:laugh:

PS. I baked in a large Blodgett 4 deck pizza oven with stones -- cookies, cakes, pies, biscuits, bread, rolls, everything--never had an issue. It was an awesome oven!

View Post


HA! You're a big help! You have what is called "the baker's touch!" Do whatever and it turns out right!
Happy Baking! Sarah Phillips, President and Founder, http://www.baking911.com

#24 SweetSide

SweetSide
  • participating member
  • 513 posts
  • Location:Connecticut

Posted 12 September 2006 - 02:48 PM

I am very very scientific, calculating and precise when I measure flour  :rolleyes:

I totally go by 'feel', cosmic  juices, alignment of the planets, etc.. I try to loosen the flour up in the bag and then I shake the flour to one side of the bag, slide the cup measure down sideways, I let the flour 'fall' over into the cup measure, being careful to remember it's not brown sugar after all. I shake some off so it's not completely full then I sift. I mean I know sifting means a shorter cup so I short it. (less in the cup)

You sorry you asked??  :biggrin:

:laugh:

PS. I baked in a large Blodgett 4 deck pizza oven with stones -- cookies, cakes, pies, biscuits, bread, rolls, everything--never had an issue. It was an awesome oven!

View Post


I'm on the other end of your universe :raz: I know that a cup of flour for me, after scooping and weighing a zillion times, weighs 4.5 ounces. So if something calls for a cup, I use 4.5 ounces. For me. And for scaling I will calculate to fractions of an ounce even when the recipe calls for something like 20 pounds 9 and 1/3 ounces.... like that 1/3 ounce is gonna kill it... :rolleyes:

My ANALytical nature I guess....
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#25 Sarah Phillips

Sarah Phillips
  • participating member
  • 186 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 12 September 2006 - 02:56 PM

Sarah... I had been hoping you would chime in.  I just wasn't sure if you knew that I kind of know what I'm doing, but obviously have troubles at times too. 

But also that this is not just the second cake I've made or that I fold with an electric mixer. 

Cake is in the oven....


Thanks! Anytime someone titles anything with "cake help" or posts anything like that, a little beeper goes off in my office and summons me! So, I couldn't help but post!

Yes, I have troubles, too!

Also, try folding in egg whites with a large rubber spatula. I do not use an electric mixer. I know you know what you are doing, but you also said you had problems with an Angel Food Cake, that also uses whipped egg whites folded into flour, as I mentioned earlier! That's another common thread.....Too much water can be coming from the beaten egg whites separating/deflating from the action of the mixers, causing the rubbery bottom -- I mentioned that too much water/ not enough flour was one of the causes of the problem....

I know you probably fold in egg whites at work with an electric mixer, but commercial mixers are very different from home mixers. Do you use a different mixer at home?

Let us know how the cake turns out.
Happy Baking! Sarah Phillips, President and Founder, http://www.baking911.com

#26 SweetSide

SweetSide
  • participating member
  • 513 posts
  • Location:Connecticut

Posted 12 September 2006 - 03:04 PM

...
Also, try folding in egg whites with a large rubber spatula. I do not use an electric mixer. ...

View Post


Sorry, I was joking/being sarcastic -- someone at work really did deflate a giant batch of egg foam cake because they beat the living daylights out of it. Can you say soup?

I do use a big, flat spatula or for bigger batches a big bowl scraper! Even at work, up to my bicep in egg foam...

Cake is out of the oven....

Things I did differently --

1) Moved the rack to the center, away from the stone.
2) Volume and scale weighed the flour -- came out almost exactly the same.
3) Took some sugar out of the creaming process and whipped my egg whites with that for structure. Based on appearances and time and folding, I'm thinking that was indeed part of the problem -- over beaten egg whites.
4) Added "new oven" to my "when my husband gets his year end bonus" list... :raz:
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#27 Sarah Phillips

Sarah Phillips
  • participating member
  • 186 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 12 September 2006 - 03:06 PM

I'm on the other end of your universe  :raz:  I know that a cup of flour for me, after scooping and weighing a zillion times, weighs 4.5 ounces.  So if something calls for a cup, I use 4.5 ounces.  For me.  And for scaling I will calculate to fractions of an ounce even when the recipe calls for something like 20 pounds 9 and 1/3 ounces.... like that 1/3 ounce is gonna kill it... :rolleyes:

My ANALytical nature I guess....


That may be your benchmark, but remember when an author writes a recipe in volume measurements, you cannot assume he or she means 4.5 ounces per cup. You have to convert the recipe to weights as I suggested above, by measuring the recipe in volume, weighing the result and then testing the recipe. Many cookbook authors write how they measure the flour in the introduction in the book - wcoop or spoon. I write it with each recipe in my cookboks, and have been doing so since 1999.

I get a different weight than you do per cup depending on the type of flour. For all-purpose flour, I get: 4.41 ounces (125 grams) per cup - all-purpose, unbleached if spooned into the measuring cup and leveled to top)!!

I'm not anal, am I? hehehehe! Please - don't all cough and choke at once! (But, when I am really alone and away from all of you, I use K8's cosmic methods.....shhh! don't tell!)
Happy Baking! Sarah Phillips, President and Founder, http://www.baking911.com

#28 Sarah Phillips

Sarah Phillips
  • participating member
  • 186 posts
  • Location:New York, New York

Posted 12 September 2006 - 03:12 PM

Sorry, I was joking/being sarcastic -- someone at work really did deflate a giant batch of egg foam cake because they beat the living daylights out of it.  Can you say soup? 


HEHE~ I need to relax because I am missing jokes and not having fun and getting too serious! Anyway, let us know how it all turns out!
Happy Baking! Sarah Phillips, President and Founder, http://www.baking911.com

#29 SweetSide

SweetSide
  • participating member
  • 513 posts
  • Location:Connecticut

Posted 12 September 2006 - 03:25 PM

PHOO!

Ok, because this cake is just cake, here's the analysis without all the frosting.

Still a thin rubbery line on the bottom, but not the entire diameter of the cake.

When rising in the oven (yes, I was checking on it repeatedly), it rose, then the outer third set. Then, it rose more in the middle. Looked like a bell curve (wish you could draw on message boards).

When it came out, then center deflated, but did not "sink". The end result is a cake where the center and outer edge are even, and there is a dipped ring halfway between edge and center. The rubberiness is from that ring to the center.

For the non-rubbery part of the cake, it is soft and fluffy (still warmish) with an even crumb. When I cut it, it did not crumble at all.

Again, when I took it out of the oven, it sprung back, but I'm wondering if I took it out a tad too early. However, I don't think additional time would help the density on the bottom at all.

Again baked in 8 x 3 pans, but the cake isn't that tall so I don't know why I need 8 x 3 and not 8 x 2.
Cheryl, The Sweet Side

#30 chefpeon

chefpeon
  • participating member
  • 1,796 posts
  • Location:Tinytown, WA, USA

Posted 12 September 2006 - 03:37 PM

K8....
I used to have a 4 deck Blodgett at one of my jobs too. I baked everything in it also. My cakes
baked fine in there.....no rubbery bottoms.

I also use part of the sugar that goes into the yolk part of the batter, and add it to the whites to stabilize them. I wonder why the recipe isn't written that way? The eggs don't deflate as easily
when they are whipped with sugar, and I use this trick all the time. Good to know you do too
Sarah.

Don't mean to throw a screw into the works, but when I had my rubbery bottom problem, my
cake recipe wasn't the kind of recipe where you fold the whites in at the end. It was just the
basic creaming method (Cream butter and sugars, add eggs, add flour, soda, salt and buttermilk
alternately). Don't expect I'll ever figure out what happened to that bloody recipe. I figure God
only allotted me a certain amount of times to bake that cake beautifully and I went over my
allotment, and for some reason he didn't renew my subscription to that recipe. That's my explanation. What science won't explain, religion will!

When I fold in egg whites, by the way, I'm all about using my hands (arms) and sometimes a
bowl scraper. I like to fan my hand out to really get some good incorporation going with as
little motion of the batter as possible. I don't like using spatulas, because when I can't "feel"
my batter, I feel.....out of touch. I'm one of those people that bakes by "feel" a lot of the time.

:smile:





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Dessert