HHHHEEEELLLLPPPPPP!!!!

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by isabella bashir, Jan 2, 2011.

  1. isabella bashir

    isabella bashir

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    I don't bake. The entire science behind it does not work well with my "add a little of this and a little of that" attitude. But that has not stopped me from doing it and presenting some concoction at parties I attend. To further complicate this, I live at 7200' elevation. Cakes just don't like it here.



    For Xmas I made a Red Velvet Peppermint Cake, http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=10000000520449. Followed the recipe exactly but had to make a few adjustments on the fly because the red batter was more like bread batter than cake batter. The cake was perfect!!! Even had extra icing left over; I usually use the icing to cover my goof-ups.



    Made the same cake again a week later, it was not as good. Followed the recipe exactly but didn’t have the problem with the red batter. All was good. That is, until I got to the actually baking stage…it collapsed in the middle a bit. But don’t worry, had plenty of icing to cover that up. The edges were burnt and the middle was undercooked. That’s ok, a quick slice with the pizza cutter and the burnt pieces were no longer. Did I mention that I do not bake?



    Now to my problem. A good friend has requested a chocolate ganache cake for her birthday. I found this recipe http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Chocolate-Ganache-Cake-105133. But am wondering if I can use cake flour instead of all purpose flour. I’ve heard cake flour is very forgiving at this altitude. Since this recipe doesn’t require a box mix I’m hoping the cake flour will solve my problem. When ever I use all purpose flour in a cake or more specifically, my favorite banana bread recipe, the batter comes out more like bread dough instead of cake batter. The resulting product is more like little bricks and not a cake at all.



    I'm hoping cake flour will be the answer to my problem.
     
  2. panini

    panini

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    Hi,

    I'm no expert on high altitude baking but I don't think a softer flour will help to much.

    I'm thinking reduce the baking soda, brown sugar, a little. maybe add an extra egg.

    I wouldn't get the butter/sugar too fluffy, air is your enemy here. also. maybe increase your temp.+25.

    Actually, you might want to wait for a better reply. I don't want to waste your money, it's been 20 yrs

    since I've dealt with altitude.

    good luck
     
  3. dillonsmimi

    dillonsmimi

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    IMO, all recipes should be followed to the letter the first time around.

    This will give you a baseline result and allows for sensible tweaking, one ingredient per baking session.

    That said, just willy nilly subbing flours is asking for failure, you might as well just throw your money in the sink and light it on fire.

    I have no experience with high altitude baking, but google is my friend and there are lots of great recipes to be found

    for your dilemma.

    OBTW. Ganache is an icing, not a cake.

    Hershey.com has some great chocolate cake recipes that are written and tested for the home baker as well as a couple of really easy ganache icings that are quite good.

    mimi
     
  4. isabella bashir

    isabella bashir

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    I think I might fake it with a box cake mix and use the ganache from the epicurious recipe. Especially since I need this on Friday. Thanks.
     
  5. kcz

    kcz

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    I bake, although I have no experience with high altitude baking.  You cannot substitute cake flour for AP flour and expect it to address HA problems.  Epicurious has a section on HA baking, and there are many websites with tips and substitutions.  Cookbook author Susan Purdy has her own website and has published a book specifically on HA baking.   You might want to explore these if you want to do more baking.  Good luck!
     
  6. dillonsmimi

    dillonsmimi

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    I do a cake mix alteration that turns out to fake cake flawlessly, altho I don't know if it will work at your HA.

    1 box cake mix (I prefer DH)

    1 small box pudding (full fat and sugar)

    4 eggs

    double oil and reduce water to 8 oz

    Sift mixes together. This will take care of any lumps created in shipping and ensure a smooth batter.

    Make emulsion with eggs, oil and water, being careful to not create air bubbles (#1 on your KA until eggs well mixed in should ensure this).

    Add drys to wets and mix on medium for about one minute.

    Using a large rubber spatula, turn the batter and look for any missed drys. If you see some (guaranteed you will) finish off with the spatula by folding.

    Pour into prepared pans (I like 8in round, 2in deep as mixes are a bit short for the 9in pans IMO)

    Drop pans on counter to release extra bubbles and pop with toothpick.

    Chocolate drys out easily, so my tip is to set the timer for a few min short of recommended time.

    Check with a wooden or bamboo skewer as the metal testers will not reveal the moist crumbs you are looking for to judge done with carry over time factored in.

    This recipe can be used with any cake mix and pudding combo.

    Have fun!

    mimi
     
  7. foodnfoto

    foodnfoto

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    It sounds like your problems stem from several issues, the high altitude and potentially the method you use to measure your flour.

    For cake baking, you should always use the flour called for in the recipe and sift the flour into the measuring cup, then level the top by scraping it off with a flat edged knife or spatula.

    If you use bleached all-purpose flour, you will get a more tender cake as the grains of flour are coarsened by the bleaching process and thus measure lighter than the smoother textured unbleached flour.

    For high altitude baking, check our Susan Purdys' Pie in the Sky cookbook. All her recipes were tested at different altitudes and adjusted to compensate for the higher temps needed.
    Never, EVER do this!-unless you want a hockey puck for a cake, that is. If you want to avoid large air bubbles or channels in your cakes, make sure to sift your leavening and flour several times to combine them evenly. You can also blend the dry ingredients in a food processor by pulsing them together a few times. One other trick, though it does not address uneven mixing of the leavening, is to gently drag a skewer through the batter a couple times to eliminate the larger bubbles that come from transferring the batter to the pan. 
     
  8. dillonsmimi

    dillonsmimi

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    If you are using a modern recipe, no need to sift anything unless there are lumps.

    Measure flour by scooping into the dry measure and level with a straight edge.

     mimi

    OBTW, unless you are making an egg white (meringue) based batter, a drop or two on the counter will not hurt a thing (also an OWT).

     m.

    I grant that all experienced bakers have their own tricks, but you are likely to scare away any green cook with all those tools and dishes to wash for a simple cake, IMHO!

     m.
     
  9. isabella bashir

    isabella bashir

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    Thank you everyone for all of the great information. I was able to download a chocolate buttermilk cake recipe from Susan Purdy's Pie in the Sky. I'll use the ganache recipe from epicurious since it sounds relatively simple. I'll be glad when I move back to sea level so I can bake again.