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From the Cakery...Help with enlarging cake recipes


DragonflyDesserts
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Hi, I had my first day in my "cakery", my new commercial kitchen at the coffee house. It is a little nerve racking at how long it took me to make 12 cakes. Can I make them fast enough to profit? Do I have to charge an arm and a leg? How do other scratch bakers do it? Maybe I need help with short cuts. Well, anyway, back to my original question.... I x's my chocolate cake recipe by 6 and mixed in my 20qt mixer. I baked them in 11 x15 inch pans and one part in (2) 9" round pans. The cake tasted the same but had sort of a rubbery texture on the bottom with definate air holes? not pockets but its like the cells were real distinct and rubbery. I wish I had a digital camera with me. I was wondering if maybe I needed to lesson the amount of baking powder or soda. If so, by how much? I used the recipe on hershey's cocoa box using cake flour. I've tripled it before with good results. the only thing I did different that I could tell was use a 20 qt mixer so maybe I didnt mix long enough, and used a convection oven for the first time. Any help would be greatly appreciated!! I need to learn tips on making large batches.

TIA

Cheryl Brown

Dragonfly Desserts

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actually when u start having to make such large quantities...u are no longer going by cups n such for some of the ingredients..so much as u start going by pounds...bad news is that since i dont bake on that scale for any one thing, i dont know exactly what those conversions would be..so im hoping someone else out there in eg land can come to the rescue on this?

a recipe is merely a suggestion

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I mulitple "standard/home style" recipes all the time into huge batches. I think I can help you.

Yes, you can make them fast enough to make a profit. Consider this a "growth period", it's going to be stressful, you should be struggling- that creates growth..........and then magicly (that could take a month or more) it will all become easier. Your speed and way of processing recipes will have gotten better.

Even as an experienced baker, I too go thru these "growth periods" when I'm going from making 70 cakes a day to 130 cakes (for example). I too am stressed out, can't figure out how to keep up with demand. But I know it will pass and I will get better/faster/smarter. So I hope that helps give you some perspective.........

First, convection ovens: I'm short on time, but I can tell you I and others here have talked extensively about working from them. Do a site search, there should be several threads on the topic to read.

To breifly summerize: a perfectly calibrated convection oven bakes faster and hotter then a conventional oven, because of the air flow created by the fan. Believe it or not, you have to adjust the temp. on your oven dial down to compensate for this increased air flow/heat. Every convection oven is different so I can't tell you how much to turn yours down, it's a process of adjustment with trial and error. 350F set on your dial might in reality be as if your baking your cakes in a 450F oven. The signs your oven temp isn't baking at a bakers 350F are: your cakes baking differently, much faster or getting much drier then you've ever experienced before.

Hopefully you can find all the little details on this topic in other threads. If you can't, please mention that and I'll repost and help you more on this topic.

Mutlipling recipes: I have not found it necessary to change my ingredients when I multiply recipes into huge batches. Adjusting your leavening for the most part, is a myth and relates to the size of the pan your baking in, not the size of the recipe. So don't mess with your proven recipes.

Instead I think working with a larger amount in a larger mixer may be what's throwing things off for you (as you mentioned). In some regards you have to ignore recipes that tell you how long to mix things. Instead you need to know what the right texture is/should be. You need to know what whipped butter looks like, how stiff is "stiff" when you whip your whites, etc.... And work your recipe in your bowl till you get the stages you need. You also have to really scrape down your bowl well, in a large bowl theres more to scrape then a counter top mixers bowl.

It's tricky when you start working in larger mixers because sometimes you don't know how much will fix in your bowl..............until you get a feel for it. I probably would have made x12 and mixed all my cakes at once. You don't want to have to do multiple batches of the same thing.........that's not profitable......time is money.

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Mixing is also really important. I don't leave the mixer running- but pulse it on and off with the alternating additions of dry and wet. I finish the mixing by hand. Over mixed cake batter will get rubbery. Wendy is right about oven temp- I keep my convections at 325 (except for one problem oven that needs to be 100 degrees cooler). I also rotate the pans in the oven half way through to further ensure even baking.

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I mulitple "standard/home style" recipes all the time into huge batches. I think I can help you.

Yes, you can make them fast enough to make a profit. Consider this a "growth period", it's going to be stressful, you should be struggling- that creates growth..........and then magicly (that could take a month or more) it will all become easier. Your speed and way of processing recipes will have gotten better.

Even as an experienced baker, I too go thru these "growth periods" when I'm going from making 70 cakes a day to 130 cakes (for example). I too am stressed out, can't figure out how to keep up with demand. But I know it will pass and I will get better/faster/smarter. So I hope that helps give you some perspective.........

You don't know how encouraging that is! Thank you so much! As for the temp, I have read that thread before and did adjust it down to 325. I do think that worked pretty well. I may need to go a bit lower. My carrot cakes and white cakes turned out well....not quite as moist as usual so I will adjust for that. But maybe the chocolate cake could be described as rubbery. I'd never seen anything like it. The inside seemed normal. It was the sides and bottoms that had the funny texture. Do you mix more or less in the larger mixers? I'm very glad I don't have to worry about adjusting ingredients.

This week I get to practice large batches of muffins, cookies, pies, gallettes and quiches for the coffee house. That will be less stressful because I won't be under so much pressure as the special cake order.

All your help is greatly appreciated :wub: Thanks!

Cheryl Brown

Dragonfly Desserts

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Is there any item you bake that you know as well as the back of your hand? Pick a recipe that you know perfectly and use that item to find where the right temp. is on your dial. Don't be shocked if you wind up going as much as 100 degrees lower then what the dial says.

I had a hard time finding the right temp. using items baked from scratch. Because it's always when you in a new kitchen that you have the oven problem and then some ingredient problems too. Too many new variables to figure out which is causing what.

For me, if I use a yellow or white cake mix and bake it off in ovens new to me, it becomes crystal clear if my oven is too hot or too cool. I know not only from how it bakes and looks but also from the time it takes. Or baking cookies can really show you how your dial is off. I know that my cookies bake in around 12 minutes..........so thats a really quick and simple item to use to see if your temp. is off.

The current ovens I use, I set at 275F and that bakes my items correctly for a 350F recipe. I then live day to day as if that 275 is 350 so when I need to turn down my oven for a custard or turn up my oven for puff pastry........I use the 275 and then count up or down accordingly. So if a recipe calls for a 300F oven I set my dial on 225F.

This greatly frustrates the people I work with.......it's not logical for them how a perfectly calibrated oven set at 350F can be actually baking items as if it was set at 450F. I've gone round and round in circles trying to explain this, it seems that other bakers are the only ones who understand this.

Other things that cause you problems in a new kitchen:

Every paddle for every mixing bowl reaches different lengths. In time believe if or not, metal bowls stretch out, metal beaters shrink. A brand new mixer fits together the best. The paddle should almost scrape the bottom of your bowl. In time, the friction of the paddle on the bowl is what takes metal off the paddle (making it seem like it's shrunk) and off the inside of the bowl (making it seem larger). So if you've bought used equipment this can throw you off.

I have 4 mixers at work. I have one older 40 qt, the paddle is about 3/4" away from scraping the bottom of the bowl. Thats a huge problem, it really doesn't mix well. So I have to jack up one side of the bowl by inserting a towel to raise up the side. Then I occasionally lift up the other side of the bowl to make it even, and that clears/scrapes down the opposite side of the bowl. I can't prop both sides up or the bowl flys off the stand (I've learned that the hard way several times). Plus not to mention I need to scrape the bowl more frequently when using that mixer.

New ingredients from new sources can throw you off. Different flour brands have slightly different levels of gluten or moisture content. We've talked here about buying heavy cream that wouldn't whip......the fat content was too low. I've talked about some brown sugar I got that wouldn't melt in a pan for the life of me. There are oddities. I had extra large eggs from one dairy weigh what a large egg should weigh so we had to order a different size from that vendor.

Where you are located effects your ingredients. I once worked at a club just feet from lake michigan. The humidity level effected all of my ingredients. I couldn't store things air tight-enough. My flour was always heavy. Recipes that I had baked for years at other places, suddenly wouldn't turn out right at this place. I tried to find the science behind the problems, but rarely did.

Then I have to tell you........I too have baked off a large batch of chocolate cake where the thing turned rubbery with air tunnels. It was a recipe I used many times........all of the sudden it no longer worked for me. I still can't tell you why, I thought I evaluated all my factors and still found no answers. My only solution, find a new recipe, and I did, found a better one at that. Sometimes you have to chalk things up to the "I don't know why this doesn't work" column and move on.

You will definately get better in your kitchen. It's frustrating to have set backs, but all bakers do in new kitchens.

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We had a similar problem with our yellow cake last year that drove me crazy. What happened is that the cake seemed to separate into two different layers while baking. The top layer was very rough and light with a coarse grain, and the bottom layer was rubbery and dense with tunnels running through it.

I can't tell you what to do with your recipe (esp. without knowing what it is), but after trying countless numbers of times to tinker with ours, we finally figured it out. We had to add a little more flour to make the cake more stable (which made it less moist, but we compensate with a soaking syrup when frosting). We substituted in fluid flex for oil, which lightened up the cake and tightened up the grain, and then we added an additional 45 seconds of mixing to make sure the batter was completely emulsified and held together better.

FYI, we also had trouble with chocolate cake along the same lines. Our chocolate cake recipe now changes in the summer; we add more leavening. It's a fine line to walk, b/c if there's too much baking powder, the cake just crumbles when you cut it, but if there's too little, you can almost bounce it. When it cools down outside and there's less humidity, we get a more consistent product.

I understand your frustration when something you've made countless times at home starts turning out differently each time at your bakery--especially when you're doing it in such huge quantities that waste becomes a factor. There are ways to work around it in the meantime (we baked cake in half-full pans, so although we used twice as many pans, at least we weren't throwing out product) and if you keep trying, you will figure out something that works for you. Have you tried reading Cookwise or the Cake Bible? There's discussions of baking chemistry that might give you some insight into the balanace of your formulas.

In the meantime, good luck!

Marjorie

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I remember vaguely reading something about chocolate cakes and how cocoa affects its texture in that it affects the pH of the batter (ie alkaline in cases of Dutched cocoa and acidic in cases of natural cocoa). The more contact cocoa powder has in contact with the other ingredients, the more the batter deflates. so if you're baking a large batch chocolate recipe that uses cocoa powder, you might want to look into the length of time the batter is mixed.

hope this helps!

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