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Cakes sunken in the middle and greasy bottoms


jfrater
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Hey all, I have just made a pound cake with a Mary Berry recipe which is an all in one mix with sultanas and cherries and raisins.  The cake has sunken slightly in the middle even though it is cooked.

 

I also made her large all in one Victoria sandwich from the "Mary Berry baking bible" (same book as above) and had the same issue - I tried the recipe again in case I had made a mistake but got the exact same result. I made no substitutions at all. 

 

I also found in all three cakes that the cake tin (correct sizes as per the recipes) were quite oily and the cakes all had oily bottoms - there was even a trace of oil seepage when pressing the base of the cakes. 

 

Both of these recipes use the same principle of mixing everything on one bowl and both have the same base ingredients (225g self raising flower) but in the Victoria Sponge she adds an extra two teaspoons of baking powder. 

 

I am using New Zealand ingredients but otherwise I am following things to the letter.

 

Does anyone have any idea why this may be occuring? the flavor of the cakes is excellent and I'd like to keep using the recipes if I can get them right.

 

I also made her black forrest cake and her Very Best Chocolate fudge cake and both were excellent with no issues at all.

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This could be a gluten issue. Gluten provides structure, so, when a cake lacks it, it will have a tendency to collapse.  Gluten also traps liquid, which might explain the greasy bottom.

 

Your lack of gluten could be coming from two factors:

 

1. The UK doesn't have super strong flour, but there's a decent chance that British self rising flour might be a titch stronger than the self rising flour you're finding in New Zealand.

 

2.  British water is considerably harder than New Zealand water. Dissolved solids are critical to gluten formation.

 

As to why the chocolate cake recipes are working, while the pound cakes fail, fat is a power gluten inhibitor
 

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/shortening-origin-name_n_6100162#:~:text=Shortening got its name because,softer%2C more crumbly baked good.

 

Quote

Shortening got its name because of what it does to flour. Introducing fat into baked goods interferes with the formation of the gluten matrix in the dough. As a result of its interference, gluten strands end up shorter which in turn creates a softer, more crumbly baked good.

 

Both of her chocolate cake recipes have less fat than the cakes you've seen with sunken middles.

How certain am I that it's a gluten issue?  Maybe 95%.  If you can, get some stronger flour and some harder water and give those a try.

 

What butter are you using? Is it a higher fat European style butter?

 

How long are you mixing for?  Are you being careful to mix just enough to combine and no more?  Another thing you might play around with is a slightly longer mix- but not too long or the gluten will start to break down.

 

Edit: I did a little digging and found this:

 

https://thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk/recipes/all/mary-berry-victoria-sponge/

 

Quote

Mix everything together until well combined. Be careful not to over-mix – as soon as everything is blended you should stop.

 

and this

 

https://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/recipes/very-best-chocolate-fudge-cake/

 

Quote

Blend the cocoa and boiling water in a large bowl then add the remaining cake ingredients and beat until the mixture has become a smooth, thickish batter.

 

She folds the flour/cocoa into the wet ingredients in the Black Forest Gateau- but that's only got the fat from the eggs- and a trace amount of fat from the cocoa.

There's a chance you might find success by merely beating the pound cake recipes like she does with the Chocolate Fudge batter. But I'd also look at your flour and your water.

Edited by scott123 (log)
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10 hours ago, scott123 said:

This could be a gluten issue. Gluten provides structure, so, when a cake lacks it, it will have a tendency to collapse.  Gluten also traps liquid, which might explain the greasy bottom.

 

Your lack of gluten could be coming from two factors:

 

1. The UK doesn't have super strong flour, but there's a decent chance that British self rising flour might be a titch stronger than the self rising flour you're finding in New Zealand.

 

2.  British water is considerably harder than New Zealand water. Dissolved solids are critical to gluten formation.

 

As to why the chocolate cake recipes are working, while the pound cakes fail, fat is a power gluten inhibitor
 

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/shortening-origin-name_n_6100162#:~:text=Shortening got its name because,softer%2C more crumbly baked good.

 

 

Both of her chocolate cake recipes have less fat than the cakes you've seen with sunken middles.

How certain am I that it's a gluten issue?  Maybe 95%.  If you can, get some stronger flour and some harder water and give those a try.

 

What butter are you using? Is it a higher fat European style butter?

 

How long are you mixing for?  Are you being careful to mix just enough to combine and no more?  Another thing you might play around with is a slightly longer mix- but not too long or the gluten will start to break down.

 

Edit: I did a little digging and found this:

 

https://thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk/recipes/all/mary-berry-victoria-sponge/

 

 

and this

 

https://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/recipes/very-best-chocolate-fudge-cake/

 

 

She folds the flour/cocoa into the wet ingredients in the Black Forest Gateau- but that's only got the fat from the eggs- and a trace amount of fat from the cocoa.

There's a chance you might find success by merely beating the pound cake recipes like she does with the Chocolate Fudge batter. But I'd also look at your flour and your water.

I'm not going to be able to follow all your instructions, but boy was that one interesting post on your part.  Thanks.  

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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3 hours ago, Darienne said:

I'm not going to be able to follow all your instructions, but boy was that one interesting post on your part.  Thanks.  

 

You're welcome! :)  FWIW, Canada is pretty much the only country in the world where you're never going to have a problem with too little gluten using all purpose flour.

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