making vanilla cake more moist??

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Joined Apr 5, 2002
Hi All,


It's been a while but I try to stop in and read new posts when I get a sec.

I'd like to make my vanilla cake better, more moist, etc but since my experience is in the decorating I'm coming here for help on baking science. It's a pretty basic recipe that uses all purpose flour and melted butter and I love the flavor and texture BUT would like it to be as moist as my chocolate or devil's cake. I was thinking of adding sour cream but honestly don't know how much to add/substitute in or even if this will give the additional moisture I'm looking for. I'd love to play with the recipe and test it out a few different ways but I just don't have the time anymore so any help to steer me in the right direction would be appreciated. Thanks again, Micheline
 
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Joined Sep 23, 2004
MIcheline: Consider baking the following recipe for a fine-textured, moist vanilla cake:

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 heaping tablespoons a.p. flour for flouring pans
8 fl. oz. milk, at room temperature
¾ cup egg whites
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2¼ cups cake flour
1¾ cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 oz. unsalted butter, softened

Set oven rack in middle position. Heat oven to 350°. Coat bottom and sides of two 9-inch-by-1½-inch or -2-inch round cake pans with 1 tablespoon shortening each. Sprinkle 1 heaping tablespoon of all-purpose flour into each pan; roll pans in all directions to coat. Invert pans and rap sharply to remove excess flour.

2. Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.

3. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery ingredients remaining.

4. Add all but 4 fl. oz. cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1½ minutes. Add remaining 4 fl. oz. of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.

5. Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. (If oven is small, place pans on separate racks in staggered fashion to allow for air circulation.) Bake until cake needle or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes.

6. Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto greased cake racks. Reinvert onto additional greased racks. Let cool completely, about 1½ hours.

[Source: Cooks Illustrated | May, 1995]
 
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Joined Mar 4, 2000
Liquids add moisture, so consider increasing one of the liquid components of your recipe by about 10% to start (milk or juice).

Eggs also contain moisture, but since they are binding as well, an increase in eggs will also affect the texture.

Although butter contains moisture, it is not per se a moistening ingredient. Batters made with oil usually tend to be moister and less crumbly, so you might consider replacing half of your butter with oil.

Also, sugar will help retain moisture. Alone, it won't add moisture to your cake, but in good proportions, will help keep it moist.
 
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Joined Apr 5, 2002
Thanks Zukerig for the recipe!

And thank you memoreg for the education!

I'll give the recipe a try as well as working in some modifications into my own recipe from memoreg's post. I always thought using oil would sacrifice taste but never considered 50:50 ratio.

Thanks again,

Micheline
 
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Joined Sep 23, 2004
Micheline: Flour & eggs structuralize a cake; whereas the fat(s) & sugar are the primary constituents for providing moistness & texture. Optimally, the ratio between the two sets of ingredients should not exceed 20 percent. Pound cakes, e.g., contain less sugar than flour, and are thus classified as "lean" or "low-ratio" batters. If using butter in a "high-ratio" batter, one should either aerate the butter, or substitute it with vegetable shortening (perhaps the liquid variety -- called Nutex, I recall.) Also, the lightness & texture of a cake often depends on how well the batter is beaten.

So then, to achieve the optimal degree of moisture in your "high-ratio" cake batter, here are a few fundamentals to regard:

*The sugar should be either equivalent in weight, or be slightly greater than, the fllour weight. Remember that sugar is a moisture-absorbing substance!

*Eggs should weigh equal to, or slightly more than, the fat. To attain equivalence, add more yolks. Butter & cream will usually enhance the moistness of cakes.

*Low-moisture, high-fat butters are not appropriate for these cakes (although, they are ideal for making puff pastry détrempe).

*If using baking powder as leavening, generally use 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of flour. This is highly contributive to a light structure.

*Highly-flavored moistening syrups are unsurpassed for maximizing the moisture content of various types of baked cakes.

*Read the section on “Understanding Cakes” in the back of Rose Beranbaum’s Cake Bible for a synopsis of good information on this subject.

Regards,
Lawrence
 
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Joined Apr 5, 2002
Just popping in to say thanks again for the info...played with the recipe a little, reduced baking powder, increased liquid...and it definitely made a difference in the texture! Thanks, M
 
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Joined Jan 9, 2004
I noticed everyone that answered your question approaced it from the standpoint of adjusting the recipe. As an alternative, you might consider brushing the cake rounds (or slab) with simple syrup. Better yet, brush it with milk for vanilla cake or chocolate milk for chocolate cake. Just don't add too much!
 
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Joined Apr 5, 2002
Thanks for the milk/choc milk idea. I did try the simple syrup which did add additional flavor and moisture but I still wasn't getting the texture I was looking for. I've subbed in buttermilk and took out a tsp of baking powder and the texture is softer, more fluffy.... more of an American style cake where as the pre modified recipe was more euro style.
 
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Joined Dec 2, 2009
Try a couple Tbl mayo. Mix in with the wets to alternate with the drys. Quick fix and one I learned at Gma's knee. Basically you are just adding egg and oil.
 
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It's a six year old thread, but as a general rule fats (e.g., oil) make cakes moist -- not liquids (e.g., milk) or proteins (e.g., egg white).

Dillonsmimi's mayo trick is a good example of what does work. Another is pudding mix/oil cake.

BDL
 
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My trick that always works - shhh! it's a secret.  Vanilla pudding for a vanilla cake and chocolate pudding for any chocolate based cake. 
 
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Joined Jun 1, 2010
Yes, I guess a little oil or mayo will do too! Well, that's just my two cents. Nothing beats experimenting recipes. It makes you enjoy baking all the more! Hope you got the result that you wanted../img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gifSession data
 
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I am hoping that Zukerig will get back to me on this as I know that this post is old. I baked your cake today....what I tasted I would say it is very good. BUT I had a problem, the center sunk. I used a different pan however. I used a 3" pan with parchment  around the edge making it about a 4 1/2" pan. I used the entire batter but failed to turn the oven down. Do you suppose that is why it flopped as I had this problem the day before with another vanilla recipe...(YES both times I forgot to turn the temp down) Today it dawned on me that this was probably the problem along with the fact that I did not put in an icing (rose) nail in the center (I usually do this with big or tall cakes and sometimes use more then 1 if necessary). Please let me know your thoughts on this so that I can use this recipe.

Thanks

Suzi
MIcheline: Consider baking the following recipe for a fine-textured, moist vanilla cake:

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 heaping tablespoons a.p. flour for flouring pans
8 fl. oz. milk, at room temperature
¾ cup egg whites
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2¼ cups cake flour
1¾ cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 oz. unsalted butter, softened

Set oven rack in middle position. Heat oven to 350°. Coat bottom and sides of two 9-inch-by-1½-inch or -2-inch round cake pans with 1 tablespoon shortening each. Sprinkle 1 heaping tablespoon of all-purpose flour into each pan; roll pans in all directions to coat. Invert pans and rap sharply to remove excess flour.

2. Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.

3. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery ingredients remaining.

4. Add all but 4 fl. oz. cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1½ minutes. Add remaining 4 fl. oz. of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.

5. Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. (If oven is small, place pans on separate racks in staggered fashion to allow for air circulation.) Bake until cake needle or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes.

6. Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto greased cake racks. Reinvert onto additional greased racks. Let cool completely, about 1½ hours.

[Source: Cooks Illustrated | May, 1995]
 
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Joined Nov 5, 2009
I noticed everyone that answered your question approaced it from the standpoint of adjusting the recipe. As an alternative, you might consider brushing the cake rounds (or slab) with simple syrup. Better yet, brush it with milk for vanilla cake or chocolate milk for chocolate cake. Just don't add too much!
Yes, definitely! I do that all the time and you can practically wring-out my quick breads.
 
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Joined Aug 7, 2010
Okay, dont use the recipe, it sounds like too much work. Just 2 days ago there was a post on THE MOISTEST VANILLA CAKE...and I will not lie it was the freakin moistest vanilla cake. Search it and make it, definitely a keeper.
 
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Joined Aug 12, 2010
Here's something that I tried with a few cake recipes myself...and it really did the trick. It gave me moister and very soft textured cake. I used cake flour in place of the AP flour. I was extremely satisfied with the results and so were all my research assistants...my family :)

Good Baking,

Jo
 
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