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Posts posted by RodneyCk

  1. So... you can bake a cake at say 300 F, in a darker pan for a little longer time and you should come out with something close to a golden brown crust.

    Only use 300 degrees if you have a convection oven. Personally, I would not go below 325 otherwise. The browning again depends on both the color of the pans, the heat and the recipe itself (sugar and/or baking soda amounts.)

    PS (edit): The real reason you should not go below 325 is because as the heat lessons, you get tinier air bubbles in the batter. I find at 325, this is desirable, producing a finer, more even crumb. Anything below this (convection oven aside) the air bubbles are too small and impede the rising process. Consequently, anything above 350 usually results in larger pockets (from air) in your crumb.

    Again, I am talking about layer cakes here. There are other types that this rule may not apply to.

  2. Magic strips are key.

    You can also use the more dangerous, but old-timers way of wetting a towel(s) and securing it around the pan, but this could catch fire, so don't leave the kitchen. With that said many people on the cake forums use the towel method. I don't.

    Another safer homemade way is to wet paper towel and fold them inside aluminum foil and fold them into strips as not to expose any of the paper towel. Pin as many as you need together around the outside of the cake pan.

    I also bake most of my cakes at 325. I don't really think this method produces flatter layers per se, but it makes for a moister cake. What you do not get by using this temp is the deep brown crust usually unless there is lots of sugar in your cake recipe and/or baking soda. Something I am willing to give up, as the moist cake is more important to me.

  3. You are correct, way to much sugar. I am sure with the amount called for in your recipe, it is probably turning into a sticky syrup.

    I created my own cake using 1 cup cream of coconut. To do that, I had to break down the cream of coconut which is mostly sugar and lessen the sugar in my recipe. I don't have my notes with me on the breakdown, but something like 1/4 cup or maybe less was actual liquid, the rest sugar in cream of coconut.

    Try the Cook's Illustrated Coconut Layer Cake recipe, very tasty and it has very good proportions, and not sticky.


  4. I'm fiddling this morning and I've made a water ganache.  I removed 2 tbsp of the boiling water and after mixing added 2 tbsp of room temperature kirsch. 

    I used 250 g bittersweet with 250 ml liquid and I've got very smooth soup so far.  I suspect this is too much liquid.  I'll wait until it cools to be sure, but I think the proportions are going to need some tweeking.

    Now that is one soup that would be mighty tasty. :biggrin:

    Please keep us posted on your findings.

  5. I write and test recipes all the time and as such I play around with different fats. It all depends on the recipe itself. There are some American layer cakes that you want the rich taste of butter, such as the white and yellow varieties. You don't get that with oil.

    However, cakes that do work well with either, to name a few, are chocolate, carrot, apple and any nut or cornmeal textured cakes. Carrot cake is one variety that sort of straddles the line. I would image the real reason oil is used in so many carrot cake recipes is due to the typical cream cheese frosting, hence refrigeration. Cakes made with oil do not cause the layers to seize up in a hard mass like butter, so you can basically eat them straight from the ice box.

    I always use oil with nut cakes and cornmeal/polenta types because the oil actually keeps penetrating the cornmeal kernels and ground nuts, making it softer texturally the longer it sits. These types of cake with oil are much better the next day, or the next.

    With that said, butter is always my first choice. Butter is a flavor base, an enhancer, so it not only tastes good, but it makes what ever flavoring in your cake tastes that much better.

  6. Higher water content will promote bacteria growth.  I believe the rule states that if something contains 65% or more sugar than water, it can be shelf stable. Since this ganache is definitely more water than sugar, well...

    thanks for that clear explanation rodney. if you made a ganache with invert sugar, water and chocolate, would that increase shelf life then? since you're increasing sugar levels? this is hypothetical as i assume you'd want that clean flavor if you're bothering to make a ganache with water in the first place.

    Hi there. Invert sugar is basically simple syrup with acid. You would be again probably adding more water to it, more than sugar anyway, so I don't think that would increase its shelf life, infact it would do the opposite.

    Plus, I found this recipe in another piece online that stated the following regarding adding sugar to it:

    Note. The addition of sugar is not advised. Should you require a sweeter result, use castor sugar or experiment with Palm, Demerara or Treacle sugar.

    I haven't used or played around with this recipe, so it is all new to me as well.

  7. Higher water content will promote bacteria growth. I believe the rule states that if something contains 65% or more sugar than water, it can be shelf stable. Since this ganache is definitely more water than sugar, well...

  8. Anybody make homemade cake flour? I'm finding on the web it is AP flour, cornstarch and baking powder. Some of the measurements on the web are different and so is to sift/not sift.

    The Softasilk cake flour now says may contain egg which my son can't eat.



    I would not add the baking powder, unless you want it to be like a self-rising flour. You can substitute, and I have before, 7/8 cup bleached (not unbleached) all-purpose flour + 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Again, this is a substitution as cake flour is made from soft wheat, so the real thing is best to use.

  9. I have been experimenting with different waffle recipes lately. Nothing beats the yeasted waffle, crispiest waffle hands down. I also discovered that to have that crispy on the outside waffle, tender on the inside, they must be cooked at the highest possible heat for a very short time. Many commercial waffle makers do not make the cut. There are a few brands that work ok, Villawear brand does a fairly good job, but they can be pricy.

    For the yeasted waffle, currently this one is unbelievably good and my pick so far;


    Note: her recipe calls for 1 tsp of instant yeast. You can use, despite what she claims, 2 tsps of Active dry yeast instead, whichever you have on hand. The reason being that there is more active yeast cells in instant yeast, so you have to double the active to make up for it. (Abridged explanation)

    For the same-day waffles she (pointing to the website mentioned above) likes Alton Brown's recipe(s). I do not. My favorite out of this bunch went to the Cook's Illustrated "The Best Buttermilk Waffles" and "Almost-As-Good-As-Buttermilk Waffles", again using the highest heat setting. Recipes found here;



    Note: these recipes are included in their New Best Recipes Book, unfortunately with typos calling for the incorrect amounts of baking soda and tartar. This is something that plagues their cookbooks quite frequently, which is a shame. You would think being the meticulous writers that they are, a proper editor would be in order. Their Baking Illustrated book is riddled with errors as well.

  10. Can I use these instead of parchment paper?

    Depending on the type of cakes, I spray the pan, then put down parchment in the bottom, then give the parchment a light spray. Again, never have I ever had a problem with sticking.

    A tip that always works for me… I sort of discovered this with my muffin opus. Most recipes say to let the cakes stay in the pan to cool from 5 to 15 minutes, before turning out. I always let them rest 3 minutes, enough to pull away from the sides, then run a knife around the sides, then turn out. More times the most, the knife is not even needed.

    During the muffin opus, I learned from author and Chef Madeleine Kamman, muffins that stay in the pan after the first few minutes from the oven begin to stick to the pan and are harder to release. I just applied this to my cakes and works perfectly, at least for me. :biggrin: Plus, they do not continue to cook in a hot pan.

  11. I never use butter to grease my pans anymore. Butter can cause the outsides of the cake to actually stick to the pan, due to its water content and/or cause burning/dark browning. Pan spray with flour is what I use mostly or I create my own by;

    1 cup flour

    1 cup solid vegetable shortening

    1 cup vegetable oil

    Combine well and use a pastry brush to apply.

  12. Actually, I was working on my own German Chocolate cake recipe a few weeks ago. The secret is replacing the baking chocolate with cocoa. It's a tip I already discovered working on some of my other chocolate cake types, but Cook's Illustrated illustrates it clearer, such a pun. They discovered, as did I, that by making a paste with cocoa and hot water, then letting it cool slightly before adding to the recipe, you get a more pronounced chocolate flavor.

    To do this though, you either have to find a chocolate cake recipe that calls for cocoa or convert the one you have using German's chocolate and by that, I mean figure out the breakdown of the amount of chocolate called for and note its components, such as sugar, fat, etc and alter the recipe as such.

    The other problem, which is why I was never a big fan of German chocolate cakes until I figured them out, is that traditionally, they tend to include a large portion of milk. Milk, as it does in a cup of hot chocolate made with milk, tones down flavors and especially so with chocolate in cakes. One could say that German chocolate cakes are really milk chocolate cakes. That is not to say you should replace the milk in the recipe. Milk has other wonderful characteristics in cakes such as giving them substantial texture. The key for a successful German chocolate cake is to add enough chocolate to the recipe to counterbalance the muting effect.

    Whalla! There you have the problems and some solutions for German Chocolate Cake, probably more than you wanted. :biggrin:

  13. Copyright covers some aspect of recipes - you can't just copy somebody else's cookbook for example and claim it as your own.    You certainly can USE the recipes however - that is implicit in offering the book for sale and would be covered by the "fair use" doctrine.  However, exactly how far you can take fair use is controversal.  Google is engaged in lawsuits with book publishers about topics related to this.

    Here is something I found the other day that relates to recipes and copyrights;


  14. Concerning piping techniques, a course is very valuable. I agree as someone mentioned above, support your local cake supply/decorating stores, they usually offer classes as well. Wilton/Michaels use strictly Wilton techniques and products. Sometimes this is fine, but on the other hand it is limiting.

    This is where learning on your own comes into play. Grab some books written on the subject, author Toba Garrett's decorating books are a must have, imo. There are countless other sources out there. Oh, and the most important tip, again as mentioned, is practice, practice, practice. :biggrin:

    Regarding buttercreams, it all is subjective. Find the type of buttercream that fits both your taste and works for the type of application you need. The meringue (egg-based) buttercreams are smoother, less sweet, and ok for general piping work, but not detailed work. The American buttercreams (my least favorites) are the powdered sugar and butter variety, usually very sweet, easier to make and great for piping work. Cake Central covers these types mostly. There are countless other frostings and buttercreams, but those are the two popular types.

    Which ones do the professionals use? LOL.. again subjective. If there is a cost factor involved, businesses such as bakeries and the like may offer the meringues or powdered sugar types, but most likely they use a Rich's Bettercream (manufactured) or some other cost saving frosting. If it's more of an artesian cake maker, then you will probably find a European meringue buttercream of sorts, but not always.

    The best way, again, is to just start making different kinds of buttercream and find one that works, and stick with it.

    Good luck and have fun.

  15. Ling, I have to say that I was kind of hurt the other day when I read your reply about the EP pound cake, because I still think it's delicious, and remember, I did admonish to be sure to beat the cake batter as much as it says to in the recipe. 

    I didn't mean to hurt you or personally offend you. I did acknowledge that I was rushing through that recipe because I had to get to work and probably didn't beat the cake enough. Your variations sound delicious and I look forward to the pictures. :smile:

    Ling, looking at your pics from the EP cake, I think you are correct. It appears a bit dense, to much so, and you can see where the butter has sort of massed with the flour to become compact. Again, it's a small photo, so hard to see the true texture. I would say it needs more air.

    The other point with the EP pound cake and some of the other recipes presented here goes back to the question, when is it a pound cake and not a layer cake in disguise? Traditionally, a pound cake should contain no chemical leavening, relying on the eggs and the way it is mixed to create the aeration.

    With that said, I am the first to break the rules of tradition. :biggrin:

    Correction: I was looking at Becca Porter's version with Elvis variation, I see the Epicurious version does not have chemical leavening.

  16. Sounds good, thanks. I am about to start playing around with different cream fillings, pastry creams and the like to make and experiment with two different end products, a buttercream and a light mousse-like filling.

    1. The French style Cream Buttercreams where pastry cream, cream fillings or custards are beat into butter and whipped into a buttercream. These are purported to be very tasty.

    2. Rose Levy Beranbaum's Cake Bible has a recipe where Italian meringue is beat into pastry cream to lighten it up like a mousse.

  17. Quantities and technique (ie the whole recipe) might aid in determining what went wrong, but typical fallen or sunken cheesecakes are due to overbeating. If you are incorporating beaten egg whites into it, this definitely may be the issue. Even if you are using whole eggs, it may still be a problem.

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