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Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by rocio, Oct 5, 2013.
Please any advice will be welcome!
As is oft written, providing the recipe would really help.
Perhaps too much leavening, perhaps too small of a pan, and perhaps beating too much and creating too much of a gluten structure... or some/all of the above.
Here it goes:
1 1/2 c milk
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
The batter only came to 2/3 of the pan and I tried to only mix to combine. I did add like a cup of walnuts.
At first glance the recipe seems a little wonky to me ratio wise...2 cups of sugar seems like a lot....so does 6 eggs...where did you get this recipe from? Is it something you have had before and someone gave you the recipe or something you pulled off the net? Sometimes internet recipes are just plain bad or wrong or both....also extremely odd to me is the use of a springform pan. A few other maybes...oven temp? rack position? how long did you bake it? Did you rotate it? Did you rest the batter? does your oven bake other things okay? every oven has hot spots....may be a combo of things.
What technique did you use - cream butter and sugar, add eggs, stir in milk and dry ingredients?
or melt butter, mix all ingredients together?
or soften butter to room temp, mix eggs with milk, add butter to flour with a bit of eggs/milk, beat, add the rest of eggs and milk...
It looks to me like you may have used the second method. It's the method used most often in Italy, and the cakes here often look like that /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
maybe the recipe is just not very good. It's strange to have only 2 tbsp of cocoa in a cake - kind of pale, not very chocolatey
Hahaha, it seems all the mistakes you´re mentioning I actually did them!! Thank you all for your answers and the time you´re taking to read and answer!!
Okay, it was a recipe from a friend. I´ve used it several times and it turns out rather tasty and the cake is spongy and nice. The only detail is that it always cracks, and this time I just had to ask!
The butter was at room temperature, but I did cream it, then added sugar. Then the eggs (room temp) one by one. After that, the flour (mixed with the baking powder) and milk (may have been cold) alternatively, ending with flour. My friend said the chocolate should be to my taste, and I just changed my chocolate powder so I only added what I thought would be enough ( I have yet to taste it, but it does look pale).
Oven was preheated at 350, but I know it runs a little hot so after I put the cake in for around half hour, I decreased it at 330. Middle rack, did turn it, just in case. In total it took 65min when the toothpick came out clean. I used a springform pan because all I have are those /img/vbsmilies/smilies/blushing.gif , one rectangular a bundt cake pan. This pan was 11in in diameter.
I did not rest the batter, I ´ve read that it´s not good because the leavening agents start working as soon as mixed with liquids.
So....what would you change to improve this recipe and get around the same amount of batter? About the technique, also any mistakes? I try to read a lot about cakes, but I´ve never been able to get rid of the cracking at the top (it´s quite delicious, since it´s kind of crunchy, but it´s not good for frosting since I have to serrate a great part of the cake in order to have it leveled).
Ok, well it sounds like it's a good cake, and your only problem is the cracking and perhaps mounding.
First of all, i never bought that idea that a frosted cake has to be flat on top. Why? what's wrong with a dome-topped cake? I admit it may be more difficult to decorate, but not that much more. It can be quite nice.
One thing i would suggest is to bake it in two 9-inch layer cake pans. That way it will not have to rise that much upward (ok, that is completely intuitive, and i don't know if there's any science behind it, but i know that most of the tall cakes i make, like in a loaf pan, tend to crack (though there is something appealing in the crack in a loaf cake.
I'd recommend replacing more of the flour with cocoa.
The creaming method is a good one and doesn't usually pose any problems, as long as you don;t beat it after the addition of the flour. In the soft butter added to the flour first method, the butter prevents it from being tough, i think, but with the melted butter and everything mixed at once (the italian way) you almost can't help mixing too much and producing gluten. But then besides the rounded top like that, you'd also have little wormhole-like channels in the cake when you cut into it, and it would be tough and dry (as, sadly, most home made cakes are here because of the method.
Now for the temperature, they sell these strips to pin around the outside of the pan to prevent mounding - you wet them and pin them on. You can also wet newspaper - several layers, in a strip the height of the pan, and wrapped in foil. pin it around (don;t tape it! it goes in the oven)
Now the fact that these strips keep the rim of the cake cooler makes me think that maybe if your oven tends to be too hot, to bake it right from the beginning at a lower temp. In fact, now that i think of it, most thick cakes (pound cake cooked in a loaf pan) are baked at a lower temperature. But maybe some of the baking chemists out there can help you better in this.
By resting your batter i meant that after you pour the batter into the pan you pick up twist, turn and drop the pan a few times to release the air bubbles....then you let it rest for a few minutes. I'm still a bit skeptical that your cake is as light and spongy as you say using that many eggs....eggs usually have a tendency to make things denser i think. What would i do with your recipe? Add a teaspoon of vanilla to the batter and a pinch of salt. Orange zest would be a nice touch....or lemon. Replace the cocoa powder with ghirardelli sweet ground chocolate and cocoa mix and perhaps more of it. Find a different pan or pans. don't start with your oven temp hot and then turn it down after half and hour....start with it lowered. buy an oven thermometer if you don't have one. It helps takes the guess work out. Instead of cutting off the top to make it more 'normal' to frost, maybe when the cake is cool enough to handle,just turn the cake over and frost the bottom.it should still be warm enough to compress the top somewhat.......that's all i got for now...either that or just get another recipe. Just curious, did you tell the friend that gave you the recipe about your problems? Advice from the horse's mouth is always a good thing, imo.
what kind of pan (s) does he use?
thank you again for your answers!
It definitely needs improving! Taste wasn´t so bad, but now that I´ve paused and detailed the cake very critically I understand that it could be so much better! It is dense and it could be so much more chocolatey.
I will try to make the changes you suggest, and see the results. Any links to a trustworthy good basic chocolate cake recipe?
I never told my friend about the cake. I was okay with the cracking before I had kids, because I thought it gave the cake a nice touch. I started finding it a problem after I decided I could do my own children´s birthday cakes. Now, I rather use this forum to ask my cakes questions
Again, I am very grateful for your time in answering!
There are tons of great cake recipes.
One that is pretty easy and reliable is from an old cookbook, the betty crocker cookbook from the 50s, before mix cakes and convenience foods took over. This is a very simple easy chocolate layer cake. It's moist and dark and above all foolproof. For what i consider an even better cake but slightly trickier, i would recommend the american chocolate butter cake from Levi Beranbaum's Cake Bible.
here's the easier one:
Black Devil's Food Cake
grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans - or grease, line the base with a circle of baking parchment and grease that
preheat oven to 350
2/3 cup butter
1 2/3 cup sugar
Beat in one at a time :
Blend together in another bowl:
2/3 cups cocoa
1 1/3 cup cold water
1 tsp vanilla
Sift together in another bowl
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour or 2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/3 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Stir this into the butter mixture alternately - half the flour mixture, mix delicately by hand only as much as necessary to incorporate almost completely,
then half the cocoa mixture, mix again barely enough to incorporate
half of the remaining flour mixture
the remaining cocoa mixture
the remaining flour mixture
pour into prepared pans, bake at 350 for 30 - 35 min
yes rocio, you are correct about baking right after mixing the batter, but i believe it has more to do with the baking powder and not the flour. If using 'single'acting baking powder you need to bake it ASAP.....double acting can sit a wee bit. I have only a small clue as to how it totally works scientifically. By resting I meant just for a few minutes after tapping the air bubbles out....sorry for any confusion and not being more specific. I meant to send this earlier but could not log in for some reason. Good luck, please let us know how it goes when you do try again and please do yourself and all your hard work a favor and invest in a few proper cake pans!
.... I deleted my post about the eggs as it seemed confusing so therefore not good advice. I live at 8500 ft where eggs can be funny creatures! Baking in general is challenging at these rarified heights.
thank you, thank you, thank you! I most definitively will post the result in my next two cakes. I have to bake one for this weekend and one for another.
If you do make rose beranbaums chocolate cake, please do it just as the recipe is written. She is the high priestess of baking, especially cakes and if she says to add one egg at at time, then do just that.