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What's wrong with my cake?


mart242
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I need to make a few cakes for christmas, planning to go with rolled cakes with buttercream in them. I did a recipe last year that turned out ok but the texture of the cake wasn't that great. The buttercream was fantastic though. This year, it's total garbage!

The recipe has basically 5 eggs, 1/2 cup of sugar, some vanilla. You mix that for a few minutes and add 1/2 cup of sifted cake flour with some baking powder. Stir that in, gently with a spatula (yeah, right, like that's easy to do) and finally fold in some melted butter.

I need 4 cakes so I though that I'd make two double batch.

1st batch: flour made lumps and butter was a bit too hot so made lumps as well. In the garbage it goes (after putting them on a baking sheet, I noticed all the lumps and could not get rid of them.

2nd batch: I thought that I'd avoid the lump things by adding the flour and butter gently in the stand mixer. Batter was smooth but after cooking, it was like a thin piece of rubber.

Quite pissed off, I then called it a night. :angry:

What did I do wrong? I'm usually pretty good with all the recipes I do.

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Some people might protest because it's less hygienic but try putting the egg/sugar/vanilla mixture (after being whipped) into a relatively wide bowl and folding the flour through by hand. That way you can feel if there's any lumps on the bottom or in the side. After the flour is incorporated, add a small amount of the egg/sugar/vanilla/flour mixture to the melted butter and mix that in first. That should solve the problem. As some extra insurance, you could add a tiny bit of baking powder to the cake flour too.

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To avoid the lumps when you add the flour, put a strainer on the top of the mixer bowl, put the flour in and then gently shake the flour through to the surface of the beaten egg. Then use a wide spatula to fold it in, moving the bowl as well as the spatula.

When you're beating the eggs/sugar/vanilla, you'll get more volume if the eggs are warm (put the shells in a bowl of warm water before you start); but it's not a big thing. It takes a little less time than if the eggs are straight from fridge. But you want to beat them until they make a ribbon (the old Julia Child trick about taking the whip off the beater and writing O L E across the mixture with the batter that drops from the whip - the O should still be visible when you get to the E is a good way to know you've beaten them enough).

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One other thing that has never been adequately explained -- but always seems true -- is never double a recipe in home baking. It just doesn't ever seem to work right. Mix up and bake single batches unless you have industrial equipment.

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Thanks a lot for all the tips. I won't do a double batch, will try one recipe from joyofbaking and will try it again by making sure that the eggs and sugar form a ribon. That should cover it. :)

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For a genoise-type sponge cake like you're talking about (although in the classical recipe the eggs are warmed a bit before whipping to create a more stable foam), I actually prefer a whisk to fold in the flour. You use the same folding action just as if you were using a spatula - don't just stir. The multiple wires tend to break up loose clumps of flour and incorporate the ingredients faster with less deflation. RLB describes and endorses the technique in the Cake Bible.

Also, before adding the flour, try whisking a little of the whipped egg mixture into the melted butter in a separate bowl. This will make it much easier to fold in the butter more evenly and quickly.

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I did 4 cakes last night. More or less a success. The cakes are a lot more fluffy than two years ago, but I still has problems with flour lumps. I use a wire whisk fold the flour it. It was sifted cake flour that I added all at once (as I had read before). I was careful not to overmix but I still had some lumps. Should I had it a little bit at a time with the sifter, like you do for a sponge cake?

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I made 4 cakes yesterday from RLB Cake Bible. I doesn't have flour in it. I did the recipe x4, poured them into 2 full size sheet pans and baked them in the convection oven. They turned out beautifully (with much prayer because I didn't have time to do them one at a time.)

Here are the ingredients:

Chocolate Cloud Roll (cake)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

6 large eggs separated,

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa

If you would like the full recipe let me know and I will try and post it ASAP

Cheryl Brown

Dragonfly Desserts

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One other thing that has never been adequately explained -- but always seems true -- is never double a recipe in home baking. It just doesn't ever seem to work right. Mix up and bake single batches unless you have industrial equipment.

We've discussed this issue adequately here, I believe. Doubling a recipe or quadripling a recipe (etc...) has nothing to do with a failure. If you understand the method involved (whipping, beating, airating, folding, etc....) and you understand that these methods may take longer to achieve with larger batches and less time then the recipe states if you divide the recipe, you should not have failures. If you learn the basics of baking and bake by those factors (and adjust according to how much bigger or smaller your quantities are) everyone can increase or decrease a baking recipe with success.

There's only a few recipe that require adjustments in your leavening when making larger batches. Also you can bake quanities in smaller and larger pans then the recipe calls for too. If you understand the basics/fundementals you quickly learn that theres many ways to achieve the same thing or make a variation.

Industrial equipement may be needed if your working with more volume then will fit in your equipement....but not always. My counter top kitchen aide mixer will hold and have adequate power to double almost any home recipe....and depending upon the recipe perhaps alot more. Of course, you can't beat 10 quarts of cream in a 4 quart mixing bowl...........again that's why we stress common sense here.

We work very hard to de-mystify baking...and debunk bad advise whether it's written in a published magazine, book or found online. If you need help adjusting a recipe to a larger volume or a smaller volume please feel free to ask for help here. No questions are bad questions.

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There's only a few recipe that require adjustments in your leavening when making larger batches. Also you can bake quanities in smaller and larger pans then the recipe calls for too. If you understand the basics/fundementals you quickly learn that theres many ways to achieve the same thing or make a variation.

Erm, I got a little confused. :blink: What do you mean by this? Is it that when doubling most batches, I don't have to double the amount of baking powder or soda?

I am in the process of fulfilling a dream, one that involves a huge stainless kitchen, heavenly desserts and lots of happy sweet-toothed people.
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When you double a recipe, double all the ingredients.

What I was addressing is that some recipes need to be adjusted.............but that's nothing for a home baker to worry about. When you get into multiplying a recipe by x20 (just as a random number) and or using huge baking pans (like 20" round)........then it's a topic you need to understand more thoroughly. But when your working with amounts easily handled in a home kitchen your not likely to ever need to know how to adjust your leavening....just go with the simple math and keep all your ingredients in proportion.

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