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Everything posted by RodneyCk

  1. True, I could do that, and that way of doing it is probably best as flavors tend to mellow quite significantly during baking, but I have seen scratch recipes using a good size portion of liquor as the liquid. The questions remains, did they increase the liquid portion to compensate for the burn off or am I totally off base? Now it is more of a need to know or this will drive me crazy question.
  2. I am working on an Amaretto white chocolate cake recipe and I wanted to use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Amaretto for some of the liquid portion. I was afraid that since it was alcohol, most of it would burn off, leaving me with a very dry cake. Does anyone have experience with adding greater amounts of alcohol in a cake? Any suggestions...
  3. Has anyone tried CI's Moist and Tender Devil's Food Cake? It is in the Baking Illustrated book and by ingredients and amounts alone, seems like it would be a very good chocolate cake recipe.
  4. The Cake Bible is a good stand-by book to have. A few of her cake recipes from that book miss the mark, such as the white velvet cake (dry), but a great reference. She is currently working on a new cake book, out in 2008 I believe, so you could wait for that one. I love the Death By Chocolate Cake book, wow, some really good recipes in it and beautifully photographed and explained, one of my favorites. I also like James McNair's Cake book, although out of print, you can buy used copies, or check your library for all of these. He has some wonderful recipes for both cakes and accompanying adornments. Both Cake books from Dede Wilson are wonderful and I just love her IMB recipe. Her combinations of flavors are the best, my mouth just waters reading them. Toba Garrett for her cake decorating skills and her new book is out in a couple of days (18th), so can't wait. My last, but only on this list, favorite cake book is Nick Malgieri, Perfect Cakes, great recipes and a wealth of information. He supports high-ratio mixing for cakes, yeah!!! Oh, and ...thought I was done... Cook's Illustrated. Although not a "cake book", their Baking Illustrated has some of my favorite of all time recipes in it (just beware of the corrections to the book as some effect the recipes.)
  5. Oh my, the walnut cake just made me drool. She has a gingerbread cake with warm apples and cider sabayon in her Star's book that I am dying to try. The cake looks so moist. I open it up and stare at it from time to time as a quiet distraction, like a day at the beach but with sabayon.
  6. I thought they were moist and tender, but you know how each taste bud is different, lol. Taste when it comes to baked goods is so subjective. Looking over the recipe again, given the quantities, you could probably up the liquid portion a bit more, maybe start with an additional 1 or 2 tablespoons of sour cream or even milk and it should be ok. What do you think Sarah? I would imagine the reason the author used baking soda was because of the sour cream, a free ride with the addition of acid.
  7. I just received a copy of her book from the library, "Stars Desserts", which is now out of print unfortunately. I ate there when she was the head pastry chef and it was still in business. I have also been to Farallon which is equally as wonderful. The book mentioned above is wonderful and so are her desserts. It was her chocolate cake recipe from it that helped me to develop my own. The library just notified me this morning that her 4-star dessert book is ready for pickup. Can't wait to pick it up! Glad you enjoyed her class.
  8. I have an almost identical cupcake recipe except that it uses 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, although if you wanted to use cake flour, your amount is pretty close (should actually be 1 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons of cake flour to equal AP.) It also uses 1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks, omits the baking soda and uses 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt instead. It also uses the high-ratio method of mixing which is why I was drawn to it.
  9. RodneyCk

    Cake help

    ROFL!!! THAT was funny. I think it is in part the obsessive behavior towards food inside us that creates this need to figure out WHY...WHY....WHY...that and part lunacy. lol. I agree, there are a lot of bad recipes out there. I baked a peanut butter cake the other day from Toba Garrett's cake book that was drier than bread. Believe me, I am an ample baker, the recipe is just bad, not enough fat, etc. I could obsess over it and spend valuable time reworking the recipe, or I could just move on and find a better one that works. I chose the later for peace of mind.
  10. RodneyCk

    Cake help

    I am weighing in here at the very end, but thought I would add a couple of things. I use a baking stone in the very bottom of my oven and they are wonderful. It is far enough away from the center of the oven to not affect the cake as far as direct heat. My oven, as I am sure many do, has hot and cold spots, so with the stone, it evens it all out. I never get one side of any baked good browner than the other using the stone, perfect. However, since you can not place the stone on the very bottom of your oven, my suggestion is not to use one. They throw off a lot of direct heat and as Sarah, I believe pointed out, can heat the bottom of your cakes more quickly. The second issue is the recipe itself and whipping egg whites in buttercakes. Nick Malgieri says the following about whipping egg whites, "...I think they make the cake layers more complicated to prepare and don't really contribute much to the lightness of the finished cakes." It also could solve your issue with the eggs as others have suggested. Instead, convert Silvia's recipe over to the high-ratio/two step method of baking where the fat coats the dry ingredients to protect gluten from forming, then the liquid is added. You get even air bubbles produced, the layers are tender, lighter and the end results have always been excellent for me. I bake most of my cakes using this method if I can. If the weight of sugar is equal to or greater than the weight of the flour in a recipe, then you can easily convert to the high-ratio method. Silvia's recipe has more than enough sugar to do so. I would highly recommend it. I see folding in egg whites more so in older recipes, so I am wondering to all the food historians out there if this is something left over from days gone by or trickled down from the genoise type cakes? Interesting...
  11. This reminds me of something that happened when I first started out on my own.... I was converting the carrot cake recipe from volume to weight for large scale: 3 cups of sugar (21 oz) and 3 cups of flour - and I mis-read the chart in the Cake Bible and thought it was supposed to be 4 oz per cup, so I routinely used 12 oz of flour. The cake never came out the way it did in class - the top crust was always very crisp but I never put it together that it was because it was too much sugar and not enough flour. It wasn't until I was reading a Cook's Illustrated that answered a mail-in question about flour weight and it said that cake flour was 4 oz/cup and all purpose (scooped) weighed 5 oz per cup that I realized I had been using the wrong amount of flour. When I went to 5 oz/cup = 15 oz flour, that's when things went back to normal. So with this thread (and the one about to sift or not to sift - AKA the Eighth Circle of Hell), I checked the Pie and Pastry bible (because I need to make a tart for tomorrow and can't decide which one I want to make), and there's all purpose bleached/all purpose unbleached, bread flour, cake flour and pastry flour! All of them have different weights based on how they're measured, with the biggest difference between sifted and dip/sweep. The range for a/p bleached is sifted 4 oz, lightly spooned 4.2 oz and dip/sweep 5.2 oz - so that's quite a swing and enough to make a difference in what you're making.... ← Oh I agree. I think Nick was using the forumla as a rough guide to determine if you can use the two step method, nothing exact as far as weight, I assume. I have used it in recipes with sugar that did weigh less than flour and the results were fine.
  12. Given your recipe listed above and using Nick's calculations, you have; 1 1/2 cups sugar = 12 ounces 2 3/4 cups flour = 11 ounces So, your sugar weighs slightly more than the flour and so you can use the two step method.
  13. Not sure which brand is the best or cheapest, but make sure it is a digital. According to Cook's illustrated, they are more accurate. With that said, mine is not digital. lol.
  14. LOL... now my head is spinning. I have always wondered this very same thing.
  15. It is not the two step method that is making her Velvet cake dry, it is the recipe itself. I hate that recipe, but love the book it is in. Unfortunately, everyone seems to gravitate towards it, which is a shame, because it does not do scratch cakes justice. There are many here who have posted bad results with it as well, dry as sand. You definitely need to use some moistening syrup with it if you every make it again. My take, there are better white layer cake recipes, so skip it.
  16. This is my favorite method for cake making and many other baked goods. Why? Because the results yield an even crumb, never any large air holes and also creates a moist crumb. The best reason though is because the fat is protecting the flour from producing gluten, something you always want to prevent in cakes (tough cakes.) It also makes the cakes more tender. I can't hype this method enough. Here is a tip from Nick Malgieri in his Perfect Cakes book when converting to the two-step method or sometimes called the high-ratio cake method. Any cake recipe can be converted to this method if the weight of the sugar is equal to or is greater than the weight of the flour. To calculate this, figure out the weight of each; 1 cup of sugar is equal to 8 ounces, 1 cups of flour is equal to 4 ounces.
  17. I am sure others will weigh in here with more exact logic, but here is my take on the whole sifting of flour. There is a difference in weight between sifted flour and non-sifted flour, so this may affect a recipe, depending on the baked good. Using a scale is your best weapon, but unfortunately, many recipes are not written in weights. The other dilemma, the one I have a problem with, is when a recipe is written as, "sifted flour" and/or " four, sifted." The previous means to sift then measure, the latter wants the baker to measure than sift. The problem with this, not all recipe writers adhere to this informal rule and most of the time it is left off or has been dropped off as the recipe has been passed down. …Confusion city, next stop. My solution, unless the recipe is very specific (something to keep in mind when writing one) is to use a medium whisk and whisk the flour a few times in the container or bag, then measure (some use a spoon to drop it in carefully, I don't), then sift with a sieve, usually with my other dry ingredients. It has never failed me yet. Good question though.
  18. Do you have a favorite recipe for the Caribbean spice cake? ← I wish, as soon as I get one...it's on!!!!!! I heard it takes about a month though. ← Yeah, I did a search for some Caribbean spice cake recipes. The ones I found were basic spice case, but with lime zest added, which is interesting, but not all that unusual. I assume you are talking about something completely different.
  19. One of the best items to buy is a "digital" instant read thermometer. I got this tip from Cook's Illustrated and it is a life, or in this case, pastry saver. No need to try and make sure the tip is far enough down or no waiting for the bloody candy thermometer to give you a reading. It is great for when things come up to temp fast and you are hurried, like with meringue buttercreams.
  20. and also when your sugar syrup is boiling, with a very clean pastry brush, dip in water and gently brush down the sides of the pot so there are no sugar crystals there to encourage the recrystallization of sugar this should help. ← Another way is to put a lid on the pot as it boils and check it periodically. With the lid on, the moisture released turns back into water which washes the crystals away.
  21. Thanks Summersun! Your recipe sounds equally as delicious and I bet pretty. I will definitely try it. Keep spreading the green tea love people...
  22. Do you have a favorite recipe for the Caribbean spice cake?
  23. I love spice cakes, plus they smell so good baking. This is my favorite recipe... http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/views/105326
  24. Thanks! I live not to far from Japantown and I know a great Japanese grocery store there, so I will look for these, how exciting. I just love trying new ingredients.
  25. That sounds wonderful. I love anything using sweetened red bean paste.
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