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helenjp

The Best Pound Cake

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I have made this pound cake a number of times and have never had any problems. I put in in RecipeGullet a while ago.

It does sound like your oven.

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I haven't made this particular recipe, but I had this happen with a pound cake recipe I had made many times before. The difference was I switched from using a hand held mixer to a standing mixer. So it might be that you incorporated too much air into the batter, or something like that. I tend not to think it was too much gluten because the crumb was still extremely tender and not all all rubbery.

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Thanks! I will double check my oven temperature. I do have an oven thermometer in there, but haven't checked it in awhile because...well, just being in there assures me of a correct temperature, right :rolleyes:?

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It says right at the top of that recipe that the person submitting it had the exact same issue. I think it's just a quirk in the recipe - that's twice the butter called for in any of the recipes I have used (been on a pound cake blitz this month). I would just chalk it up to wierd science, smack the crust down with the back of a spatula and cover it with a glaze :smile: No one will know. If anyone says anything, just look at them with pity and say 'aw, can't you get yours right? All the best cakes are done this way' :laugh:

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sounds like a butter bomb to me, if you are talking about what I think you are talking about. The soft inside receded back while the crisp top held its position.

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It says right at the top of that recipe that the person submitting it had the exact same issue.  I think it's just a quirk in the recipe - that's twice the butter called for in any of the recipes I have used (been on a pound cake blitz this month).  I would just chalk it up to wierd science, smack the crust down with the back of a spatula and cover it with a glaze  :smile:  No one will know.  If anyone says anything, just look at them with pity and say 'aw, can't you get yours right?  All the best cakes are done this way'  :laugh:

That is actually me. I linked to my webpage where I had posted that recipe. But I think you are right. I am not going to worry about it, since everything else was great.

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I haven't made this particular recipe, but I had this happen with a pound cake recipe I had made many times before.  The difference was I switched from using a hand held mixer to a standing mixer.  So it might be that you incorporated too much air into the batter, or something like that.  I tend not to think it was too much gluten because the crumb was still extremely tender and not all all rubbery.

The exact same thing started happening to me when I switched from a hand to a stand mixer. Now I cream the butter and sugar in the stand mixer. Add eggs, one at a time just till mixed, and then fold in the flour by hand with a large rubber spatula. Helps some. But my pound cakes just arent' the same with the stand mixer as by hand.

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Hi there,

It rose up really high in the pan - just over the top. When it cooled in the pan for a few minutes, the crown fell and I ended up with a nice high crispy crust that was totally empty. Can anyone look at the recipe and see where it might be possible to go wrong? I followed the recipe exactly. Thanks!!

The recipe looks fine to me. Guess you might have overmixed or what I call "overbeat" the mixture...

Cheers...

Don

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Maida Heatter fans... help please!

I've tried her Light Pound Cake twice, and need help getting it right. Here is the recipe:

Maida Heatter's Light Pound Cake

- described as “about halfway between a sponge cake and a pound cake”, with a texture that is “light and airy and moist”.

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter (I used 113g)

1 cup unsifted unbleached flour (I used 140g)

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

6 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup granulated sugar (I used 200g)

Melt butter and allow to cool. Sift together all the dry ingredients except the sugar.

Beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla on high speed until it is pale and falls in a slow ribbon. On low speed add the melted butter, beating only until just incorporated. Do the same with the dry ingredients, being careful not to overbeat.

Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 deg. for 50-55 minutes.

Top of cake will sink slightly toward the end of baking and while cooling.

Ok the first time I made this cake following the directions exactly, the batter deflated while mixing in the dry ingredients and the baked cake was, as expected, disastrous. And it tasted very eggy.

Today I folded in the cooled melted butter and the dry ingredients by hand as quickly as possible, and for the first 20 minutes or so of baking, had a gorgeously risen cake which had me very hopeful. Unfortunately, prematurely so. After 20 minutes the cake sank and stayed that way till the end. Here is the finished crater-cake:

gallery_45882_3234_31113.jpg

The cake itself was actually quite nice and moist and relatively airy for something that sank that badly. It tastes pretty good - rich, buttery, and light. I like the texture. But I'm sure it's not supposed to look like that! (Despite Ms Heatter's warning that the cake would sink "slightly") And it's definitely not presentable. Here's a close-up of a slice:

gallery_45882_3234_28551.jpg

It's a bit crusty. I am not sure if it's supposed to be that way.

Can anyone help with opinions on what went wrong and how to fix it? Can eggs be overbeaten? I beat the eggs till they were just about ivory coloured.

Thanks!

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Oh yes, I have to add the recipe states to beat the eggs for about 25 minutes but I did probably about 10 minutes max, if that. I don't know if that was the cause of the problem. Now that the cake has cooled I've tried it again and the bottom half is no longer as light and fluffy as when it just emerged from the oven, though the top half still is. It's definitely a bit too crusty though.

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Oh yes, I have to add the recipe states to beat the eggs for about 25 minutes but I did probably about 10 minutes max, if that.  I don't know if that was the cause of the problem.  Now that the cake has cooled I've tried it again and the bottom half is no longer as light and fluffy as when it just emerged from the oven, though the top half still is.  It's definitely a bit too crusty though.

If Maida Heatter says to beat the eggs for 25 minutes, then you can be sure it's safe to beat them for 25 minutes. I know there's other leavening in that cake, but the beaten eggs probably add a lot of lift also. I don't have equivalents right at hand, but I think a 1/4 cup of flour is 30 gms. so 1 cup should be 120 gms. You might have too much flour in there. And figure 29/30 gms = 1 ounce, then 4 ounces of butter should be 116-120 gms., so you might need to add a touch more butter. I know they're small amounts but sometimes that can make a big difference. I don't know off hand what sugar's supposed to weigh--- maybe some professional pastry chefs can 'weigh in' on this one..... :rolleyes:

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Oops sorry, actually I used 121g flour, from RLB's conversion charts - for flour spooned into the cup rather than dipped and swept. Same with the weight for the other stuff - I used the measures from RLB's Cake Bible.

The recipe calls for a fancy 10-inch tube pan, I used a 9-inch angel food pan, it did not rise above the top of the pan at all. It rose to about 1/4-inch from the top, stayed that way for about 15 minutes then deflated.

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So, just to be clear, you did not use the required amount of ingredients, or you did?

Two of the main reason for sunken cakes is oven temperature to low, so check you oven with a separate thermometer, not your oven's.

The other reason could be that there was more flour than liquid in the recipe.

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What about the too dark crust? I'm not great at diagnosing problems, but that leads me to believe oven temp was too high or that there was an issue with the sugar. High oven temp goes against the sinking part unless there was a door opening problem (been there too many times...) or being undercooked.

I'm also thinking the eggs weren't whipped enough and couldn't hold the structure aloft.

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A couple other thoughts--- what kind of flour did you use, what kind did Maida Heatter use, and what kind was RLB weighing? Discrepancies there (e.g, all-purpose flour vs. cake flour) could cause a problem. Also, you mentioned using a 9-inch tube pan where a 10-inch pan was called for in the recipe. Putting the same amount of batter in a 9-inch pan rather than a 10-inch pan I think would have too much batter to rise. It would be more spread out in a 10-inch pan rather than a 9-inch pan and wouldn't have so much of its own weight to overcome in rising.

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Most authors who've done training in Europe will include a note or two on expected ingredient weights *somewhere* in the book. I'd check the book to see if Maida Heatter gives such instructions. I know I was quite surprised when I realized that Joy of Cooking has ingredient weight instructions, since it's such an American classic.

I'd also try turning the oven temperature down (if you have no thermometer) and beating the eggs *precisely* as instructed. Very often an author will presume that you have a stand mixer and are using that or that you have a lightweight hand held mixer. Using the kind of tool they expect will make it easier to judge whether you've got the right texture.

Emily

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Unfortunately Maida Heatter doesn't always include weight measurements in her books (usually she does for nuts, and sometimes butter, but not always flours). So if I need to "convert" a recipe quickly I use 5 oz as the standard weight for 1 cup of a/p flour and 4 oz for cake flour; and 7 oz for a cup of sugar, 4 oz (1 stick) for 1/2 cup butter or 2 sticks for 1 cup. I've never made the recipe for Light Pound Cake, but if she has you beating eggs for 25 mins, she means 25 mins! I've made a lot of her other recipes and haven't had any "misses" yet.

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but if she has you beating eggs for 25 mins, she means 25 mins! I've made a lot of her other recipes and haven't had any "misses" yet.

I would just like to say, that, as with all recipes, times given are generally guidelines for those who are unfamiliar in what to look for when preparing ingredients for baking. Authors do try to cover all their bases, so the book will be effective for both novices and pros. They also have to account for differences in grades of flour, sizes of eggs, altitude, equipment the baker may or may not own, etc. As hard as an author tries they can't cover everything. When one writes a recipe they have to be careful not to make assumptions.....like not everyone has a Professional Series 6 QT Kitchenaid. They may be using a hand mixer, or even beating by hand.

So although Maida says to beat for 25 minutes, she's probably using that timeline as "insurance" for those novices that may be trying her recipe. Some people don't know what it means for a batter to "ribbon". The thing to remember, is that 25 minutes is a guideline, and the more important part is to know what to look for. If it takes less than 25 minutes for your batter to fall off the beater in a nice smooth ribbon, then stop there. Don't keep beating it, just because the recipe says 25 minutes.

Remember too, that overbeating your eggs can be a prime cause for the extreme sinking that LittleIsland experienced.

On another note, after reviewing every bit of info on this thread, and checking measurement conversions, I can't honestly say exactly WHAT caused LittleIsland's cake to fall so terribly. There are so MANY causes to fallen cakes, unless you're right there, standing over LittleIsland's shoulder, we can all only guess.

That dark crusty outside that the cake had, makes me wonder about a sugar problem. My gut tells me that the eggs may have been overbeaten and there wasn't enough flour to hold the structure, once the cake was out of the oven.

I'm also thinking the eggs weren't whipped enough and couldn't hold the structure aloft.

LittleIsland's eggs were definitely whipped enough, if not overly so. What holds the structure aloft once the cake is out of the oven is partially the action of the flour and also the coagulation of the egg proteins. It could have had something to do with the protein content of LittleIsland's flour in her part of the world. She may have not added enough flour. It could have had something to do with the size of the eggs in her area.

I have personally seen what I would call a jumbo egg in one region, labeled as large in another.

All these variables make this particular problem hard to troubleshoot.

Regarding oven temp, always always have an oven thermometer in your oven, then you'll always be able to rule out the "oven too hot/oven too cold" factor. :smile:

Putting the same amount of batter in a 9-inch pan rather than a 10-inch pan I think would have too much batter to rise. It would be more spread out in a 10-inch pan rather than a 9-inch pan and wouldn't have so much of its own weight to overcome in rising.

This is a good point to consider. But I think only in the case of a severe change in pan size. I don't think the difference between a 9 inch and a 10 pan (especially a tube pan), would have

caused that much of a fall. :smile:


Edited by chefpeon (log)

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So, just to be clear, you did not use the required amount of ingredients, or you did? 

Two of the main reason for sunken cakes is oven temperature to low, so check you oven with a separate thermometer, not your oven's.

The other reason could be that there was more flour than liquid in the recipe.

I think I used the required amount of ingredients, using RLB's weight conversions. I even weighed the egg yolks and egg whites separately before putting them back together to whip. That's because our eggs have smaller yolks and a larger volume of whites than in the US. MH's book does not contain weight references.

I had a thermometer in the oven the whole time and it was at 350 deg as instructed.

I used Gold Medal unbleached AP flour - one of the few American brand flours available here - as the recipe calls for "flour" with no other descriptives. MH's foreword specifies we can use bleached or unbleached the same way. Possibly I should have used 140g of flour which is the measure RLB gives for dip and sweep rather than 121g for spooned in. I used the latter because MH's foreword explains how to measure flour into a cup by spooning in. So, I guess the next time I might try more flour. (But on the second day the cake was a little dry)

So it looks like another possible cause of the problem is the eggs - either overbeating or underbeating, now if only I could figure out which! Which is why I wanted to know if eggs can be overbeaten, which from Chefpeon's input, could be true. The mixture was ivory coloured and fell in a thick slow ribbon after less than 10 mins on high on my Kenwood Chef, and I didn't see how it could be beaten for 25 mins... but again perhaps next time I should follow instructions to a T and see what happens.

I stopped baking it at 40 mins (instead of 50-55 as specified) as it was very brown and sprang back when touched, passed the stick test, and when I took it out it was obviously cooked.

Chefpeon... it sank halfway through baking, not upon emerging from the oven.

It's really interesting to see everyone's input and theories, though... sorry this is having us stumped! Might have to try again... third time lucky maybe? :biggrin:

Anyway does anyone else have another recipe for a Light Pound Cake... i.e. tastes rich like a butter cake but has a fluffier and light-ish texture - not to the extent of Chiffon however ?

I have been making RLB's All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake and love it for the flavour, just looking for a little lighter texture (although it's actually already quite good).


Edited by LittleIsland (log)

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Chefpeon... it sank halfway through baking, not upon emerging from the oven.

Valuable info!

Leads me to believe that the eggs were overbeaten and contained an insane amount of air and steam. The cake lacked the structure from flour and protein to maintain the shape, and it fell.

I guess the best analogy would be to compare it to overinflating a balloon to the point where it pops......you see?

Too much sugar causes a cake to fall also, even though, by my calculations you converted the measurement correctly. But I look at that dark thick crust, and "sugar" is all I can think of.

Were you using "superfine" or "castor" sugar?

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Anyway does anyone else have another recipe for a Light Pound Cake... i.e. tastes rich like a butter cake but has a fluffier and light-ish texture - not to the extent of Chiffon however ?

I just discovered Victoria Sponge cake. It's quite buttery but yet light and very easy. HERE is a recipe.

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Were you using "superfine" or "castor" sugar?

Was using castor. But I thought they were the same thing.

Overbeaten eggs? Can you imagine, then, if I'd really beaten them for 25 minutes...

Might try the Victoria Sponge recommended by Shaloop... what do you use as the equivalent of Gas Mark 5?


Edited by LittleIsland (log)

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what do you use as the equivalent of Gas Mark 5?

THIS site says 375. However, when I made one I used 350F.

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Was using castor. But I thought they were the same thing.

Yes, they are the same thing, but I just didn't know what you called it in your part of the world.

Well, as they say, if you can't get one recipe to work after multiple tries, maybe it's time to try a new recipe......

My "diagnosis" of overbeaten eggs is my best educated guess. I could be, as I frequently am, wrong. I must admit I am obsessed with troubleshooting. Baking is so scientific, I feel I should be able to figure out any problem. In fact, I'm so obsessed with this particular cake thing, I'm going to give the Maida recipe a shot myself and see what happens. :wub:

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