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Blogger Aaron Solves Dry Chocolate Cake Problem!

Nov 5, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose

I've been using Rose's chocolate cake recipes for nearly two years, and always had the same problem - I weighed every ingredient carefully, had the oven spot on 350, and every time, the cake would bake perfectly, but would serve out dry and crumbly. The strange thing was that when I made yellow or white cakes, this didn't happen. Last week I figured out why.
When you use hot water to dissolve the cocoa powder, then let it sit to cool, some of the water evaporates. I stated measuring the water/cocoa mixture *after* it cooled, and found that I was loosing as much as two ounces of water, depending on the conditions in my kitchen! Adding a little room-temp. water, just before mixing the cocoa/water with the other ingredients has totally solved this problem. Just last weekend, I made a wedding cake with a 12-inch, two-layer middle tier of chocolate, baked and iced the day before the event. When served, the cake was soft and moist and the texture perfect.

Rose Reply

aaron, i am so enormously grateful to you. after 18 years you are the only one to solve this problem. i thought it was over -baking. then i thought it was miss-measuring the flour. finally i thought i'd never figure out what people are doing without actually being there and if not for you i probably never would have.

you see i always cover everything with plastic wrap that is not going to be used right away--especially chocolate and water!

now i will be sure to add this vital piece of information to the new book.

Comments

Hi Woody,
Thanks for responding -- I used sifted cake flour. I did not change the original recipe and did not weigh the ingredients. Had the recipe in the book recommended that as the preferred method, I would have done so. I did not replace 20% of the butter with canola because I used the recipe in the book and did not read every recommendation here on this site. I increased the recipe to make 3-9 inch round layers and the first 2 I followed the book instructions by leaving the pans to cool 10 minutes before removing them onto greased racks. Those 2-cake layers fell apart as I was doing that; however, I allowed the 3rd layer which was baked separately due to the size of my oven, to cool longer than the recommended 10 minutes and it came out of the pan fine. When I originally posted on this site, my 3rd layer was not yet baked. Knowing that my 3rd layer came out fine makes me believe it was not an error in following the recipe. I did find the cake overall pretty dry, probably not worth trying again as we didn't love it as much as we loved the description in the book.

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Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Maria
09/23/2014 12:04 AM

Hi Maria,
We ask what type of flour did you use and did you do anything different from the recipe?
Are you weighing your ingredients as a way to confirm that you used all of the ingredients?
We did revise the recipe in "Rose's Heavenly Cakes" by replacing 20% of the butter with canola oil to give the cake a moister texture, which you may want to try as well. At times, we have had to repeat a recipe from discovering an error in what we were doing. For several tries, I could not make the Mousseline Buttercream Frosting recipe work, until I started using an instant read thermometer. It now comes out perfectly every time. So we hope that one failure does not detour one from an entire book.
Rose & Woody

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I had the same problem as another person. My cake completely fell apart. I am not a new or inexperienced baker, I have never had this happen. I read the part about covering the cocoa and water mixture so I did that. I am extremely disappointed as I just bought this book and I am scared to try any other recipes after this cake disaster. I spent most of my day baking this, only to have it fall apart when removing from the pan. And yes, I did that properly.

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Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Susan
07/18/2014 09:07 PM

Susan,
For many people who have used cake mixes which contain pudding or other moistening agents, and in many cases use oil or melted butter for the fat, cakes made from scratch using softened butter will seem dry. We recommend that you try the Chocolate Layer Cake with Caramel Ganache, which uses butter and oil. We specifically designed this recipe as a moister version of "The Cake Bible's" classic All-Amercican Chocolate Butter Cake. You will likely find the banana and carrot cake recipes in Rose's Heavenly Cakes to be more moist with both recipes using oil. We also suggest that you try making some of the genoise recipes as they are syrupped with a sugar/liquid solution which makes them moist.
If you find the Chocolate Layer Cake still on the dry side, you can experiment with adjusting the butter and oil levels. You also can brush most any cake recipe with a simple sugar/water syrup solution to add some moistness, but the sweetness level will intensify.
Rose & Woody

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I wish I could solve my dry cakes problem. I have made several recipes from Rose's Heavenly Cakes book, and they all have come out very dry: the Barcelona brownies (twice), Karmel cake (so dry couldn't eat it, but it made the BEST "bread" pudding ever), the Whipped Cream cake, Gateau Breton, and most recently the Yellow Butter cupcakes, for my 2-year-old son's birthday. All dry, dry, dry. The cupcakes were too dry to serve.

When I made most of the recipes several years ago, I kept a baking stone in the oven, so I thought maybe the stone absorbed too much moisture from the cakes. So I made the cupcakes a few days ago with no baking stone.

I used a thermometer inside the oven. Baked the first pan at 350, and tried the second pan at 325 since my cupcake pan is dark and heavy. Both came out similarly dry, and those baked at 325 lighter in color. I used Swan's Down cake flour, C&H superfine sugar, Golden Hills eggs (which have huge yolks & much richer flavor than other eggs), Trader Joe's brand everything else. I weighed all ingredients in grams on an Oxo scale. I did use a handheld mixer (which is all I have), beating a bit longer than the times specified for the stand mixer.

Now maybe this is sacrilegious to say here, but when I eat cupcakes my friend always makes from a box mix like Betty Crocker or something, they are really moist and fluffy which I like. However, the flavor is yuck like movie popcorn fake butter or something. (And the jarred frostings: HORRIBLE!) And I just want to make things from scratch as a matter of pride.

So, wanting moist fluffy cupcakes for the birthday party (seems kids always ask for yellow cake with chocolate frosting), I tried 2 other recipes which were specifically developed to imitate the moist texture of box mix cakes: Cooks Illustrated Fluffy Yellow layer cake, which uses separately beaten whites and a little oil; and smittenkitchen's "best birthday cake," which contains buttermilk. I made both of these recipes, weighing ingredients in grams, and both were also somewhat dry. As I baked batch after batch (in the same pan), I tried removing them from the oven sooner, like when the toothpick came out with small crumbs still clinging. I did not try taking them out when a LOT was still clinging, because I feared gooey centers, but maybe that's what I have to do? I tried batches at 350 and at 325 but it didn't seem to matter. By this time, I was so afraid that overbaking was drying them out, that when I took them out, they were still almost as pale as the batter itself.

The CI cupcakes were a little more moist and fluffy, but still not like box mix or other cakes I have had.

I HAVE made a couple moist cakes, a pumpkin cake and apple cake which were recipes floating around my church when I was growing up. They both use a lot of oil as the fat, and mix the sugar+oil+eggs, then add to the other mixed dry ingredients, and are just whisked by hand. Both of those baked in a light-colored Nordic Ware bundt pan.

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Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from redpink
03/31/2014 10:48 PM

Hi red pink,
I switched internet providers and did not see your comment until today.
We recommend that you increase the batter by 20% for all ingredients, but lowering the baking powder by 1/16th teaspoon. This should give you a similar in height and slightly domed cake as the RHC cake.
You will need to increase the ganache by the same percentage.
Rose & Woody

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Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from holly
03/31/2014 10:40 PM

Hi Holly,
Yes. The conversion factors will work for various sizes.
Rose & Woody

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I was wondering, will the revised chocolate Cake in Rose's Heavenly Cakes book work the same then with conversions and factors to make various sizes of cakes. So if I use the conversion factors on the update version to make say a 12" cake would the conversion still apply to this new recipe?

Thanks!

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i have an additional idea, for oil cakes, such as the chocolate chiffon. after you whisk the cocoa and boiling water, add the oil! the oil will do a few things: speed the cooling, float on the top and prevent water from evaporating, and get infused with chocolate.

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Thanks for your prompt response woody. I was wondering if u could guide me as to the recipe u mentioned. Flipping through my RHC , i found chocolate layer cake with caramel ganache , to be the closest match. Is it the same one? If so, how do i need to adapt this to fill a 10 inch cake. Should i just make extra batter without adjsuting the baking powder levels? Much thanks for your help!

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Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from red pink
10/10/2013 04:32 PM

Hi red pink,
In Rose's Heavenly Cakes, we revised Rose's classic All-American Chocolate Butter Cake by substituting around 20% of the butter with oil to reduce some of the dryness.
We suggest you try making a single layer of your chocolate cake with the substituted oil. From there you can adjust as you think works best for your desired texture.
Rose & Woody

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Hello there !
Rose said in a comment above : another problem could be the valrhona cocoa. it is "heavier"--i think higher in cocoa butter. try green & blacks or drostes and i think you'll be amazed by the difference.
also of course the cake strip for the sides and do cover the cocoa/water mixture.

Unfortunately i already committed to a kilo of Valrhona cocoa powder and i need to use it day after for the chocolate butter cake. With all this talk of dryness, just wondering if i should adjust for the cocoa powder by increasing the water or butter content? Or should i be reducing it? Not sure! And if so by how much? Much thanks for any ideas !

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Woody,
I must thanks u for being so patient and explaining everything so detailed. I really appreciate it a lot. Thank u.

- I always use weighing( in grams) for baking. I find measuring by cups is very inaccurate and troublesome too.

- yes, it is light like a sponge cake. When bites of cake is put in my mouth, and after munching it, there is this powdery kind of feeling left on my tongue after swallowing the cake? As though there is something powdery that did not dissolve in the cake? No pellets was found.

- could it be that I did not heat up the egg mixture enough and result to not beating the egg mixture to the maximum vol thus the powdery kind of feeling on the tongue? What temperature should the egg mixture b? As the book did not state the temperature but only describe it to b lukewarm.

Woody, once again. Thank you for spending ur time to reply me. U really did help me a lot in baking.

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Xinru, I just want to add my 2 cents. What exactly do you mean for powdery when eaten? Be aware a genoise is a sponge cake and the texture is of a sponge cake. Light, somewhat crisp as you bite the sponge air cells; soft due to some butter, but mostly syrup liquid. A genoise will not melt in ur mouth like a butter cake.

I find that any flour works with genoise, bleached or not, cake flour or what not, even all starch works (corn starch for example). the texture of genoise comes primarily from the whipped eggs and not from flour; this is another reason the flour is added at the end on a genoise, and just lightly folded.

on the contrary, a butter cake has a melt in ur mouth texture because there is a specific interaction between flour and the liquid and fat components of the cake batter; such a gluten formation when flour is in friction with liquid; such as emulsification when flour is in friction with eggs and butter or oil.

in either case, are you weighing your flour (grams), or are you measuring in cups? the amount of flour is extremely important in any case, in all types of cakes. i will recommend weighing your flour (grams), and nothing else. if you prefer to measure flour in cups, you will not find any help from me... i no longer spend my time explaining how to measure flour in cups because i really dislike doing so, it is too inaccurate, or to be accurate requires too much explaining and practicing.

on a third thought, if you see actual flour in the cake, we may be talking about a different issue of undissolved flour pellets?

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Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Xinru
12/29/2011 03:37 PM

HI Xinru,
We are unfamiliar with that brand of flour, but we suspect that it is unbleached and the genoise recipe was written and tested with bleached cake or bleached all purpose flour. This could be a factor for the cake having a powdery texture.
If bleached flour is unavailable in Singapore, we recommend that you to try making Kate's flour on pages 438-439 and visiting her website "A Merrier World". This will be beneficial since most of Rose's recipes use bleached flour.
You can also let the cake ripen covered at room temperature after applying the syrup and covered, which will help the syrup to distribute more evenly. But if you are slicing the layers in half per the recipe, we would suggest to fill and frost the cake as shown in the recipe.

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Woody,
Yes, I had trimmed off all the crust and brushed the syrup n allow it to sit for 24 hr in the fridge b4 i apply frosting. I m from Singapore and do not hv all the brands as mentioned. The brand I'm using is "prima" cake flour, sadly they did not state if it's bleached.

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Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Xinru
12/29/2011 01:55 PM

Hi Xinru,
Is this after you have trimmed the crusts, brushed on the syrup and allowed the syrup to distribute 24 hours?
We should have clarified on a prior question. Is your cake flour "bleached cake flour" such as Soft as Silk?

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Hi rose, woody.
I've try baking the classic genoise. Everything taste great. But there's a problem I faced. The cake have powdery texture when dissolve in the mouth. What could hv happen? Help!!
Thank u!!:)

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Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Xinru
11/28/2011 09:40 AM

Hi Xinru,
Yes. You are using the right flour. We recommend looking at the Pellets Be Gone article on this blog. Another blogger came up with a better method of adding the chocolate which we tested and show in this article.

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Thanks woody,
I think it's because I did fold the batter properly. Because there's some flour ball at the bottom of the cake. Could it b that, that affect the end result?
Nope, I haven't try baking other genoise. I'm still new to it n need more practice on folding. I find it hard to incoperate flour with the egg by folding.
And the flour I use is cake flour, so I'm quite sure it's the right flour?
Thanks again for ur reply..:)

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Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from xinru
11/25/2011 12:17 PM

Hi Xinru,
Have you made genoise cakes before without having this problem?
We also ask what type of flour are you using as it essential that the flour is bleached?
By nature, a genoise is a delicate cake after syrupping, however it should not be crumbly due to the syrup. As long as you fold the batter gently, but rapidly, and check to be sure all of the chocolate has incorporated to give you a uniform batter you should be fine. This can take you putting your hands to the bottom of the bowl to break up any chocolate flour pellets.

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hi rose,
i've made the raspberry genoise cake it taste great! i love it:)
only one thing that i think it disappoint me a bit.
After finish assembling the cake, i put in the the fridge for one day. After that day, i cut the cake and found the Genoise very crumbly. by using a folk and cutting into one slice, the other part of the slice starts to crumble down a bit. :(
what could have happen? is it that i did not fold the cake properly?
i would really appreaciate ur advice. thank u!

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I've enjoyed reading all the comments. I've been trying to adjust my recipes to fit a low carbohydrate diet. I blamed the dryness of my sourdough chocolate cake & Beat & bake cocoa cake on the use of brown sugar/ Splenda mix for sugar & combination of white wheat, unbleached & almond flour. Never thought about the cocoa.

I knew of a baker who combined all leftovers to create new desserts. He even used fruit cake leftover (out of freezer) I don't know how he did it but the results were amazing.
I'm trying to decide if I want to try that or just feed the compost bin/

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Too much flour or overbaking are two possibilities.

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I made the infamous "family recipe" Red Velvet Cake this weekend. I measured absolutely everything. This cake was so dry you could choke on it. The only variation which I made was using 1 cup of milk adding a Tablespoon of vinegar, versus using 1 cup of buttermilk. Everyone said the cake had the right flavor and consistentcy. It didn't fall apart or crumble, it looked beautiful.................what would make it dry?

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Hello, I baked a chocolate cake today and found that the top crust was very crispy and almost all of my friends said the cake tasted like brownies instead of chocolate cake. Other than this problem, the cake turned out extremely well. So can someone please help me out? Thanks!

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Mary, Rose is away for a while. If you go to the forum part of this blog you will find a wonderful bank of bakers willing to give excellent advice, Most of them use Rose's recipe and make big party cakes.
They really helped me out when I did a 12 inch Christening cake in October. I was also worried about the size of pans...etc. Good luck!

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Hi,
I have to make a bridal shower cake for 60 people.
What size round pans should I use? I will do 4" high cakes.
How many people does a 6" and 9" cake normally serve?
I am using cake recipes from the cake bible.

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When i make my rum cakes i add a packet of vanilla pudding to the flour mixture and a half cup of heavy whipping cream to the egg mixture...it turns out suffer soft and moist.
If you try it let me know how it turns out for you.

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Diana, if you are having the same dryness with recipes from several different sources, I would suspect either overbaking (oven too hot or baking too long), or a problem with the flour.

Are you using the exact type of flour (normally bleached AP or cake flour) called for? If so, are you measuring it in the correct manner? Usually, this means weighing, or sifting the flour directly into the cup without tapping or shaking, then leveling.

I would recommend trying one of Rose's recipes (like her favorite sour cream butter cake, recipe available on this blog), being careful to follow everything exactly.

Good Luck!

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Hello, what a nice site. I'm a young mother taking care of my baby at home. I started baking cakes as a hobby without knowing anything. I always get my recipes from the internet or some books and magazines. Unfortunately I always have the same problem with the cakes no mattter what I do they always come out really dry. The last one that I made was a Rum Cake and I could not get it to be be wet with the rum. I will need some tips please on how to fix this problem. Thank you so much.

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Sherrie, i always measure cocoa by weight, and always keep my cocoa airtight (vacuum).

on a different subject, per many people's request, i've just made DVDs with Rose's new bread video as taped at General Mills (you can also view it on youtube). to get a DVD, please write your name and address on a piece of paper or address label, enclose a check for $10 payable to Hector Wong, mail to 2888 ALA ILIMA ST, STE 2611, HONOLULU, HI 96818. pls note: bread DVD, so i don't get confused. you could also paypal to myyellowkitchen@gmail.com

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My friends, you are ahead of me!!! I see about 2 posts below more related to this!

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Interesting discussion here. I was just reading through "The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread" and noticed a comment in the the book indicating that cocoa powder's differ drastically by mass. This got me thinking about this thread and perhaps the dryness could also be due to "too much" cocoa powder. I suppose this means cocoa (if not using suggested brand) should be measured by volume. What experience do others have with this?

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Thanks carol - I needed to hear this reminder before baking this weekend!

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Hello! Greetings, and thank you to all the bloggers on this thread, who have brought up and solved many of my problems re cocoa, weight, inaccurate measuring implements, etc. I am reluctant to admit to you how many times I have baked the Barcelona Brownies in order to eliminate goopy centers, and attempting to compensate for whatever I was doing wrong, i.e., by instead of 10-15".baking 25 minutes ending up with rock financiers, and who knows what else - testing new oven temp, raising racks, putting in pizza stone, and lying wide-awake at night. I was desperate and downtrodden, craving the tender morsels described by Rose. Now, at last we shall have wonderful light Barcelona Brownies! Many thanks to you all.

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what an interesting fact Julie, thx for reporting your cocoa weight findings. a solution I would recommend is to apply syrup after the cake has cooled.

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Hello again,

I'm no expert, and I didn't figure this out on my own, the fact orginally came from a cookbook.

Here's how I would approach this- if I want to use a cocoa powder that is a different brand than the author/recipe specifies, I would measure the cocoa first by volume, then weigh it to see how it compares to the recipe (assuming the recipe gives both volume and weight measurements).

If the weight is similar I would make a note about the compatibility of that brand/recipe and continue to use the recipe's weight, since that is how I like to measure.

If the weight is significantly higher or lower, I would use the volume measurement and note the weight/brand, checking the result afterwards to see if any further alterations are needed.

Of course, one could also just bake in the normal manner, and only use this fact if trying to figure out a problem with the result. It's all moot if one is using a recipe with no brand recommendation or weights.

Hope that helps,
Julie

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If one cocoa is has more volume per ounce than another brand do you reduce the weight of the more voluminous cocoa you add to the recipe? This is what I do not understand.
Thanks.

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It's not always convenient to use the same cocoa (two of the four I have now were gifts), and it's good to know that this variable exists if you're trying to solve a cake problem (like dryness).

Now that I've learned this, I'll always check a new brand of cocoa powder by measuring both volume and weight.

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Hi,

I do not understand how measuring by volume would solve the problem. If the cocoas of the same weight have different volumes shouldn't you just use the same type of cocoa each time to get consistent results? You would have to figure out which cocoa powder works best in your recipe and then consistently use it. Using different cocoas and measuring by volume only leaves you with different results each time based on the unique properties of the cocoa you happen to use.
I believe you have an excellent point though about the quality of the cocoa potentially affecting the dryness of the final product.

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I wanted to pass on a lesson learned.

Different brands of cocoa powder have different weights for the same volume. This not only affects the flavor intensity, it also affects the moisture content- you can tell by how thick or thin the cocoa powder/boiling water mixture is.

I have four different cocoa powders in my pantry right now, and I was so stumped by how, despite the most careful weighing, the cocoa power-boiling water mixture ranged from thin and soupy to thick and pasty. It turns out that, especially since I was using a variety of brands, I should have been measuring the cocoa powder by volume to get the most consistent results.

And that could be a variable contributing to dry chocolate cakes. The ones with the thicker cocoa/boiling water mixture (i.e., those cocoas that are lighter in weight for a given volume) effectively have a little too much flour-type ingredients.

To take this a little further, I suspect that the cocoas that are lighter in weight for a given volume have a lower cocoa butter content than the heavier ones (this is true according to the nutrition labels on my cocoas), also contributing a touch more dryness to the cake.

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I just want to report that everyone these days looks for dark chocolate. I’ve just snacked on a piece of Valrhona 85% dark chocolate, and what a bitter tongue I still have. It was like biting into a medicine bar!

http://www.hectorwong.com/roselevy/BitterGuy.html

Dark chocolate above 67.5% should not be eaten alone as a snack. It should be baked, put on, shaved, melted, blended, poured, candied, dusted, or inhaled!!!!!!!!!

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Oh, another comment on how to keep cakes from being dry -- be sure you beat them enough to develop the structure. Rose uses a stand mixer, and I just have a little hand-held power mixer. I found that I had to beat quite a bit longer and that helped solve the dry cake problem. Also, my oven temperature was a bit off and adjusting for that helped as well. So many things to check!

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Oh, another comment on how to keep cakes from being dry -- be sure you beat them enough to develop the structure. Rose uses a stand mixer, and I just have a little hand-held power mixer. I found that I had to beat quite a bit longer and that helped solve the dry cake problem. Also, my oven temperature was a bit off and adjusting for that helped as well. So many things to check!

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I found out the same thing! My one-cup measure was off by about 1 1/2 Tablespoons so I was always adding too much water.

I have since taken all my liquid measuring cups, filled them up with water and weighed them to make sure they are accurate. The others were much better. The "bad" cup has been replaced by a more accurate one.

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isn't it shocking bill! criminal!!! glad you posted it so people can see i'm not the only one out there who weighs water.

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I know we have discussed this ad-infinitum but I have made a discovery recently. My liquid measuring cup was off...by quite a bit. I weigh my water now...no more dry chocolate cakes! I always weighed milk, buttermilk and sourcream because it was harder to read the measuring cup since they leave a film on the cup...but with water, I just used the measuring cup and my eye...and well...the cup was off off off. Really not good.

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this is a very tender cake. If you prefer a firmer crumb that holds together more, use bleached all-purpose flour instead of cake flour(the same weight but not volume)

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I made the Butter Chocolate Wedding cake,I followed the recipe exactly, I did cover the cocoa / boiling water mixture,I used dutch pressed cocoa, all my ingredients were fresh and room temp. the cake was crumbly, tasted fine, but texture wise dissapointing.I did adjust the butter amount as you had responded in a previous blog about the miscalculation. but is there anything else,needing adjusted besides that?

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Aaron
Thank you so much for sharing this discovery. This is the very problem I was having and now it is solved. Many many thanks.

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great information, and I would have never guessed since my measuring cups are plastic and even heat proof I hate to use hots on plastic, so I never measure hot water volumes in them.

i think I am safe, since I measure by weight, and also use the correct ingredient temperatures on TCB.

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Huh... great to know. Thanks for sharing!

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chem nerd/baker
chem nerd/baker
06/19/2008 12:55 PM

Here’s another layer to the problem of volume measurements vs. weight measurements when it comes to water. Water has a different density at different temperatures – as the temperature goes up, so does the amount of volume, or “space,” water takes up. Meaning that 236 grams of water is equal to 8 ounces or 1 cup at room temperature, but at boiling, the same 236 grams will take up about 8 ounces PLUS 1 tablespoon. Therefore, if you measured out 1 cup of boiling water, the weight would be less than 236 grams and once cooled would be less than 1 cup, by a tablespoon or so.

I imagine to a lesser extent, this could also be true for the volume of eggs.

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The solve for this problem is elusive. The cake is a half sheet chocolate, using a cake frame, with oil as the fat. Levening is soda with buttermilk, and eggs. The batter is thin. I have baked this cake several times and is always delicious but the top is highly domed and cracked and the crumb is full of large air holes. After switching from all purpose to cake flour and lowering the temp in my commerical convection oven from 375 to 325 the problem still exists. Will you kindly advise.

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Kathy is right about the cake not needing any buttercream etc. It is perfect all on its own. It's my favourite chocolate cake. I make it with Green and Black's cocoa and it is to die for.

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I just want to post this nice comment from my dearest friend Kathy. She is a novice baker, but intense food connoisseurs and food critic. A chocolate lover, too, to the extreme. Kathy is a photographer and her input has been great help.

"Hello, I just got home from the family gathering. The Domingo Cake turned out terrific! It wasn't difficult at all, as Natalie had told me. In the recipe Rose says that the cake needs no frosting, nothing more than a dusting of powder sugar. I went overboard and got some Haagen Daz Vanilla Bean ice cream and let it melt for a mock creme anglaise. I put it down on the plate and then a small slice of the cake on top. But really, it didn't need it. If fact, the "creme anglaise" took away from the cake. All you need to go with it is a nice hot beverage. It is my new favorite cake. It is very rich tasting but the texture is light. It has the flavor of a flourless cake but not as dense. I have some for you but too late to drop off now. I'll bring it to you after work tomorrow. Will you be home? Thank you for letting me use your 9" pan."

I replied to Kathy saying that I have not yet made this cake, but all the comments about this cake are assuring.

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Rose Factor for the 9x13 makes only one layer.

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Rose, I love the Cake Bible and all the recipes I have tried, however, last night, out of the blue, my cake did not rise. I made the very same recipe the night before last and it was perfect. I tried it again this morning, did not rise again! Any ideas why this is happening? It is a 9X13 and I used your chart for the correct amounts. By the way, should the Rose Factor for the 9x13 make 1 9x13 layer or 2?

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Melissa, welcome to the blog! Search for Kate flour, she got good results with unbl after heat treating with the microwave.

Also great video of Rose, lecturing on flour at the experimental cuisine collective.

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Rose,
I just received the Cake Bible, and the Pie and Pastry Bible. I love to bake, and my friends and family love the end results nearly everytime. I'm looking forward to reading the books and then getting started. I've already read the "flour" section and now know what the big deal is regarding the use of bleached cake flour. My concern is that I hate the idea of using bleached flour. The last couple of cakes I baked I used BCF, and while the flavor was great, the texture was very fine. The two best places I've ever eaten cake from are Whole Foods (from their bakery) and this place in Durham, NC called the Mad Hatter (bakery). I stopped going to Mad Hatter when it seemed that their frosting went from buttercream to a vegetable shortening base, but the cakes from Whole Foods had a fairly dense structure, were moist, and I always thought were delicious. They use only unbleached flour. So, are my cakes now going to flop if I use unbleached flour for your recipes, or are they just going to have a slightly denser structure? I do care about the final product, but I don't want to eat bleached flour for the rest of my life...and I usually bake atleast one and sometimes two cakes each week.
Many thanks. Melissa

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Louise Allen
Louise Allen
04/ 8/2008 09:37 PM

Hector - I have the Pie and Pastry Bible - but I do not see a recipe for Chocolate Meltaway?! Louise

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Louise, what a delight! Time for you to buy, loan, or steal a copy of The Pie and Pastry Bible.

Pastry cream is added after baking.

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Louise Allen
Louise Allen
04/ 6/2008 09:06 PM

I am desperately looking for the recipe for one of my favorite childhood desserts named chocolate meltaway. We bought it at a local South Florida Jewish bakery named Andalusia. I saw on the internet that other Jewish bakeries in NY sold it.
It was a Danish ring - flaky Danish dough – that had large alternating dollops of chocolate and pastry cream on top. My first dream would be to find the recipe for a chocolate meltaway.
If not, I could try to recreate it. I have a good Danish ring recipe (see cookscounty.com chocolate almond danish) and a good pastry cream. My question is how to put it all together. Can you put pastry cream in the Danish before you bake it? (i.e., can pastry cream be baked??) Or is added after the Danish is cooked? If so, the Danish has to have an indentation to hold the pastry cream and chocolate.
I would love to hear from anyone who knows the chocolate meltaway and either has the recipe or any ideas on how to recreate it!
Thanks, Louise

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Louise Allen
Louise Allen
03/10/2008 12:27 AM

Sorry for the typos and double posting - I thought I was previewing when it posted! Louise

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Louise Allen
Louise Allen
03/10/2008 12:26 AM

Rose - I made your Dark Chocolate Ganache on page 269 of TCB and it is delicious! It forsted like velvet. I put it in the refrigerator for 2 hours to thicken it up before I frosted the cake and the texture was subperb - as was the flavor. I used 1/2 semisweet and 1/2 bittersweet. Ganache is both so easy and so impressive - all at the same time. I do not know if I need to make chocolate buttercream anymore!
Louise

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Louise Allen
Louise Allen
03/10/2008 12:25 AM

Rose - I made your Dark Chocolate Ganache on page 269 of TCB and it is delicious! It forsted like velvet. I put it in the refrigerator for 2 hours to thicken it up before I frosted the cake and the texture was subperb - as was the flavor. I used 1/2 semisweet and 1/2 bittersweet. Ganache is both so easy and so impressive - all at the same time. I do not know if I need to make chocolate buttercream anymore!
Louise

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carol i didn't mention about weighing instead of measuring bc after all you wrote i knew for sure you were weighing!

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You're going to make me cry, Rose. Thank you for the gracious response. Like everyone else, I can't wait for your next book! But I will, because I know it will be well worth whatever patience I can muster. In fact, I've already checked Amazon to see if they're taking advance orders. What...not yet? :)

On the dry cake issue, I no longer measure by volume. For those who do, I hope my near-disaster with that first wedding cake is helpful.

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carol that is so dear of you i will tell you (and everyone listening) a really sweet corrolary story. when i was getting my degree at nyu many years ago i did a book report comparing joy of cooking to another book. i showed it to my friend cecily brownstone who was food editor of associated press and she said: "you must send this to marion rombauer." i asked her why she thought marion r would be interested in hearing from me and she said told me that marion was in the arduous process of revising the "joy" and this would give her a real shot in the arm! i got a lovely letter back from marion which i pasted in the book. it's dated nov 10, 1972! she wrote: "...it came as a great morale booster as we are working on revision--a long long---and excrutiatingly frustrating process! but with appreciation like yours it makes our efforts seem more than worthwhile. with thanks and best regards, marion rombauer becker."
and that's how i feel as i am embarked on the excrutiating process of bringing forth another major cake book!

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On the dry cake issue, I was almost in despair back in '98 when I made my first big cake from TCB. It was for my daughter's wedding, and all my test runs on the various components were going well except the chocolate butter cake. Dry, dry, dry....arghhhh!

I thought I had tried everything. Thank heavens, the penny finally dropped that I was measuring the flour before sifting instead of afterwards. With cake flour being as dense as it is, my mistake added up to a lot of extra flour!

Rose, I owe you so much. Have wanted to thank you many times this past decade. That wedding cake led to many others and a passion for baking that won't quit. I even went back to school to earn a professional baking certificate. Truth be told, I've learned more from you (and still do) than from anyone else.

Every time I lurk on the blog, I think, "I must tell her what a huge effect she had on my life." This time, I saw Aaron's post and couldn't let it pass.

Happy baking to everyone.

Carol

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I have been working on my own red velvet cupcakes because I think many recipies lack taste. I adapted The Country Buttermilk Cake recipe with good success. The taste is great. My non cake eating children gobble them up with out icing. The rise was perfect, however the texture was uneven. It looked like an a little overmixed quick bread rather than a cake. Where should I look to sort this problem out.
Dana

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Why do the tops of chocolate cakes frequently break open? This seems to happen at whatever temperature I cook the cake. Can anyone tell me how to avoid it? Thanks.

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Re sticky tops, the funny thing is that when I baked it using a larger pan, I do not get this problem. My friend who used the Julie Hansson Favourite Chocolate cupcakes did not encounter the same problem. The sticky tops are a real bugger. When I checked on them this morning, I had them sticking on my fingers.

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most likely they were still warm when covered. or else you live in a very humid area!

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I made both the Chocolate Fudge cake and the All American Chocolate Butter cake using cupcake liners.
The Chocolate Fudge cupcake was dense and moist on the inside whilst the All American Chocolate Butter cake was dry and crumbly.
Both cakes had sticky tops. I stuck them back into the oven but they turned sticky again when cooled. Why is this so ?

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Maybe I missed something along the way, but I've never even thought of spraying cupcake liners with any kind of spray... I thought the whole idea of the paper or foil liners was to eliminate the need for cooking spray. Anyway, I've never had the paper liners pull away from cupcakes or muffins. Could it be a moisture issue? (not removing the cupcakes from the pan to cool on a wire rack?)

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idea: why not use paper liners that have not been coated with baking or cooking spray. the batter surely will stick to the paper and not pull away from it.
interesting solution you've found though and since it works for you that's great. just thought i'd mention this bc i use baker's joy to coat the paper liners and still they never pull away from them.over development of the gluten and overbaking could indeed result in that.

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I baked chocolate cupcakes yesterday using Rose's recipe. I love her recipes they taste divine. However, I have had problems with the cupcake patty comming away from the sides, I believe that the mixture is being over beaten. So I have gone back to the regular slow way of baking cakes, creaming the butter & adding the flour & cocoa mix / milk with a rubber spatular,(not mixing it in the mixer) until it gets a nice "gloss or shine" to the batter. The results are perfect every time.
Hope this helps.
I also tried the chocolate cake with regular cocoa as suggested, it also worked well.
P.S. I'm not a fan of licking the bowl, however the smell of the mix was too good to waste & the taste was like eating delicious chocolate icecream.

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everytime I bake cupcakes the paper patty pans come away from the cakes as they cool..Can you let me know why this happens and how to prevent it? it's driving me crazy..
thanks

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Thank you everyone for your helpful comments. Definitely going to use the correct amount of leavening next time. I've tested the baking powder & it's O.K. The baking soda box has been sitting open for YEARS, so it will get replaced & stored better next time.
Jim and I both love very dark, bitter chocolate -- still thinking about whether or not to change the brand of cocoa. Maybe I will change the cocoa in the cake & use a bittersweet chocolate glaze on top to give that extra chocolate "hit."
Thanks again!

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Barbara, agreed with Matthew and Jen N.

I keep my Rumford (aluminum free) baking powder in the refrigerator and vacuum packed. It keeps well and consistent. I've done the 'xtra powder' experiment with your similar odd results.

re Valrhona, it is an excellent brand on the bitter side (high cacao content). Mostly is the chocolate connoisseur who will appreciate a bitter cake, but for the 'commoners' a sweeter cake is preferred. I use Callebaut for the commoners!

Chocolate IS a personal taste.

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Hi Barbara,

Here's a previous comment from Rose re: Valrhona cocoa.

"another problem could be the valrhona cocoa. it is "heavier"--i think higher in cocoa butter. try green & blacks or drostes and i think you'll be amazed by the difference."

Although I use Val. choc for almost everything in my bakery, I too was having some trouble with the cocoa in cake batters - similar to reports of other bloggers here: crumbly or somewhat dry cakes. I switched to the Green & Blacks, and I think it makes all the difference. You might give that a try.

Best,

Jen N

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Barbara,
When I first started reading your post, I was going to say that your butter may have been to warm, but then you addressed that. I think the extra leavening is the culprit; too much leavening can make a cake as you described. If you are concerned about your baking powder, you can test it by pouring some hot water over it and see if it still fizzes and bubbles. Of course, the easiest thing is to just buy fresh, as I'm sure you will for your next round.

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I'd like to get back to the question of cakes that are too crumbly. I made the Chocolate Domingo cake today. It was very good, but just a bit too tender & crumbly. The whole cake was like that, but especially towards the center. It was not dry, however.
There's no boiling water in this cake, so I don't think that evaporation was the problem. I weighed all the ingredients. I used Valhrona cocoa. My baking powder & soda were a bit "old," so I used about 1/8 tsp. more of each. Could too much or too little leavening be the problem?
There were also a few large bubbles & tunnels in the finished cake. It was not tough, though - quite the opposite.
Other ingredients were just as described. O.K., I added 1/2 tsp. of instant espresso powder & 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, but I really don't think that was the issue...
Butter was room temperature (about 68 or 70 F), eggs were room temperature..
I only have a hand-held power mixer, so that's what I used.
It was a wonderful cake and I'm certainly going to make it again. I'm just not sure what to do differently...
Well, I'm going to try the magic cake strips. That much I'm sure of.
Next time I think it will be topped with a very thin glaze of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. This time I did the powdered sugar topping with swirls of piped chocolate.

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disagreed. The #1 way is to use the JB Prince Matfer giant balloon whisk as recommended in TCB. Pictures and exact model number are posted on the blog. The #2 way is to use a straightened slotted skimmer. The third way is a large rubber spatula.

My point is that a smaller whisk will not do, only that giant one. So unless you have it, use the rubber spatula or slotted skimmer.

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I agree...I find a rubber spatula works better than a whisk for folding the ingredients into a Genoise. I LOVE THEM!

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Beth, I would use a large rubber spatula or a straightened slotted skimmer instead, unless you have the giant JB Prince balloon whisk, to fold genoise. Trust me!

I get rubbery bottoms on the Moist Chocolate Genoise if I haven't whipped the eggs enough, the chocolate seems to heavy the batter down and collapse on the bottom of the pan turning into rubber. So for this chocolate version you need to be more careful. It is also important that your oven is well preheated and you just can't load your oven full of cakes; genoise requires a rather high and quick initial temperature so it sets before collapsing.

Try the Golden Genoise, I warm the eggs and keep them warm while beating them (I use my water batch mixer attachment), it wonderfully triples in volume no matter what. After adding the water (warm), I beat more until the consistency sets again. Then, when I add the clarified butter (warm), I fold very-very well without fear of deflation, actually it deflates to about 2/3. But magic happens in the oven, the cake rises twice in volume! The Golden Genoise is a denser cake than the classic version, but the crumb is so fine and tasty that I call it a 'refined' American yellow butter cake.

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Hi again. I made the torte yesterday. The batter was delicious, and I'd say the cake was successful, as several of the guests ate at least 3 small slices. It was a little crumbly, but still delicious. I served it with some lightly whipped cream.

I'll probably try the genoise in the next week. I'm hoping that folding with a whisk will make a big difference, and I may even try folding in the Kitchen Aid after beating the mixture for 8 minutes (as the woman with the injured wrist has suggested). I always found that my genoise batter deflated too much when folding in the final ingredients, so I'm so glad to see the new techniques.

My sister's inlaws make pie crust in a different way; I haven't seen the Pie Bible yet, but thought I'd mention it. Instead of using butter or shortening, the dough is made with 2/3 cups vegetable oil and 1/3 cup milk (for a 2-crust recipe). You roll it out between layers of wax paper. I've had good success with it, though my old standby is still an all-butter crust made in the food processor.

I hope all of this baking will be a good addiction. Twenty-five years ago I wanted to become a pastry chef, but my life took another direction. Baking has always been my haven.

Thanks for this wonderful website. It is truly a wonderful source of baking information.

Beth

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always turn town oven temp 25 degrees when using dark or pyrex pans.

my génoise work the same in all sizes--at least the ones that i wrote about in the cake bible. i don't know what about flo's recipe would change this other than perhaps the quantity.

as long as the pyrex pan is no larger than the size i recommended it will be fine.

glad bread has led you to cake and hopefully back and forth again! next pies and pastry!!!

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Hi. I'm about to make the Perfect All-American Chocolate Torte. I searched the site so now know that the butter should be 10 tablespoons, not 8 (I could see that 8 tablespoons could not weigh 5 ounces). I have a question about springform pans. My old one broke; for a replacement I could only find a dark non-stick, and I find that other things I make in it cook too quickly. Any suggestions about maybe reducing the timing?

Also, I'd love to try genoise again after taking several years off. I used to make genoise from the Flo Braker book. If I made the smaller size they always worked, but if I made the bigger size I always had a rubbery layer on the bottom, despite (I thought) beating the eggs enough. Why should one size work better than another?

I love this site. I first found it because of the Bread Bible, but the site has led me to now try recipes from the Cake Bible.

Oh, one more question. Will the pound cake recipes work in a pyrex loaf pan? Should the temperature of the oven be decreased?

Beth

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Kay - What recipe did you use? Did you allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes before you removed it from the baking pan? Did you allow it to cool completely before you moved it after that?

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Please tell me why my chocolate cake completely fell apart to crumbs I followed the recipe step by step

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when using convection it is recommended to use 25 degrees F lower temperature.

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Louisa Morris
Louisa Morris
07/14/2007 06:57 PM

If you have a fan forced oven, check the temperature with an oven thermometer, my thermometer is always in the oven. You will probably find that its temperature is higher, than the non fan forced oven. This may help with the over cooking / dry cake problems. I cook my cakes on 160-165 degrees (sorry Australian conversion).

I love to use the cocoa with 22 % cocoa solids, very chocolaty & smells divine, in your chocolate cake recipe Rose.

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another problem could be the valrhona cocoa. it is "heavier"--i think higher in cocoa butter. try green & blacks or drostes and i think you'll be amazed by the difference.
also of course the cake strip for the sides and do cover the cocoa/water mixture.

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Cloyd - I hope you continue to experiment and will report back with your findings. Sorry we can't all help you taste test :)

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I was thrilled to see that someone addressed the dry chocolate cake problem. I have been using the Cake Bible for 3 years and have had that problem frequently. However, I ran my own experiment on the "evaporation hypothesis" and am now a bit skeptical that it is the culprit. I mixed the boiling water and cocoa powder (I use Valrhona cocoa for taste and a nearly black color for the cake) to make the Perfect All American Chocolate Torte recipe (p.56), weighed it, then let it cool without covering it and weighed it again. At 30 minutes, it had lost 1/4 oz in weight, and at 60 minutes (completely cool) it had only lost about .35 oz according to my eyeballing the scale (it is not digital). It was definitely less than half an ounce. If I take .35 oz as the loss, that is only 5.4% of the total original weight of the mixture, and it was replaced by several teaspoons of water. That doesn't seem enough to have caused the extreme dryness I have experienced in the past, and it is nowhere near the 2 oz loss reported by Aaron.

Aaron might have been using more liquid for a different cake (such as the Chocolate Butter cake) and ambient temperature and humidity would affect evaporation rate. My kitchen temp was 72 degrees under central air (low humidity) and the bowl for the mixture was not wide and shallow (which might increase evaporation). I think it is a good idea to cover the liquid as it cools, but I'm not sure the dry cakes were caused solely by water loss. I wonder if Rose thinks a 5% moisture loss would make a difference. Maybe it is sufficient.

I have also discovered that my measuring cups varied from each other, and when I weighed the flour and cocoa as opposed to using the volume measures I got a much more moist cake.

I'm so spooked by the dry cake issue, that I put a dome over my cake when it's cooling after the first 20 minutes. I didn't know how much moisture was lost by the cooked cake as it cooled and didn't want to take a chance. I have even added 1/4 cup vegetable oil to the batter to try to insure moistness (it seemed to work and it didn't affect the taste adversely- it held the height of the cake down by a quarter inch or so).

I would love to keep experimenting on all the different variables that might be involved but I only have so much time, cocoa powder, and calorie-burning capacity (yes, I must taste all of my experiments!) for this research!

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i've done the same thing and it seems to work pretty much the same way. adding the eggs first would make it more tender due to the fat in the eggs but if you prefer it that way and it's not too tender, i.e. doesn't fall apart or dip in the center, go for it!

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PS.
By "mixed up" I meant I got confused between the two cocoa mixtures that lay on the counter,and interchanged them!!

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Hi Rose
I have just baked the chocolate butter cake twice over. The first time I made a mistake and mixed up the two batches of cocoa and ended up beating the egg mixture first, and adding the cocoa-water mixture later. The cake was amazingly soft and moist and has stayed so for 5 days now. However I was mortified at my mistake and immediately rebaked the cake correctly, this time. The resulting cake was not as tender....and had a denser structure. What has happenned here? I need to bake it again....and am confused.
Thanks
Yasmin.

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all of my cake recipes are intended to be made with a high quality nationally available butter of the percentage of butter fat listed in the cake bible. they do not work well with high fat butter such as plugra which i use mainly for puff pastry.
when you use ingredients other than what are specified don't be surprised by the results that are different from described.

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Susan Musta
Susan Musta
06/11/2007 04:51 PM

I'm having the same problem with making dark chocolate cake layers with all different recipes including the Cake Bible's All American Chocolate Cake. I bake in a temperature correct oven, and I take out the cakes when the toothpick comes out clean and the sides are just barely pulling away from the pans. I thought perhaps I was overmixing, so I cut back on mixing. I've tried the baking strips, playing with oven temperature, different levels in the oven.... my problem is this. I let the layers cool completely, wrap in plastic wrap then in ziplock bags with all air sucked out. I will freeze the cakes for a couple of days until I have time to frost, etc. The layers seem to deflate and are quite fudgy and flatter than I would like. I do use Plugra butter which I know has a bit more butterfat. Should I cut back on the butter, or do you have another suggestion?

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Kat,

Turn that unsighly pile of cake bits into a work of art by making a trifle.

Patrincia

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virginia sybert
virginia sybert
03/25/2007 06:30 AM

Oh my goodness, there are a million things you can do. Mix the bits along with chocolate chunks in your favorite mousse or mix with whipped cream and name it something. My family's favorite dessert is "Brown Bear" (it wasn't a long leap from what a bear does in the woods to what I said when the cake collapsed).

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Hi there,
I overcooked a chocolate cake and now it's crumbled to bits. Any suggestions on what I can do with the bits, please? It was a resonably large cake, and it's not that dry (just not cake shaped) so I'd hate to waste all those ingredients. Is there hope? :)

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try using cake strips to slow down the baking at the edge of the pan.

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I have had a problem with my cakes not completely cooking in the middle, therefore, I overbake them, and then they're dry. My oven temp is ok. Sometimes I use a baking core, others, I don't. Could it be the oven? Even when the temp is correct do some ovens just not bake correctly? It is an electric Fridgidaire.

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over baking causes cakes to pull away from the sides of the pan and since they are mini they are no doubt baking a little too long.

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Hi Rose,
I too am a huge fan of yours. Your book is the one I use most often even though I've got tons to choose from.
My question is, I use your cake recipes to make cupcakes and they come out beautifully but when I make them into mini cupcakes, on most of them, when cooling, the cake seperates from the papers. What's going on here???
Thanks in advance!
Aviva

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that is so very kind of you merideth. and i wish you very happy baking--i see you live in a very beautiful part of the world to do it in!

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Merideth Bisiker
Merideth Bisiker
03/ 9/2007 12:12 AM

Rose,

Thank you so much for answering my questions. I just wanted to take a couple of minutes to tell you that I am so thankful for The Cake Bible and for this blog. You are so quick to answer everyone's questions, and so generous with your information and time. Your passion for baking is so obvious, and I thank goodness for it! I also very much appreciate the technical side of The Cake Bible. I like to know the reasoning behind cooking and baking, and you've helped that need along. I can't wait to buy your new cookbook. In the meantime, I wish continuous success and look forward to seeing what you come up with next.

Merideth
Vancouver Island

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yes--they are very tender and it's fine to use equal weight bleached all-purpose flour.

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Merideth Bisiker
Merideth Bisiker
03/ 8/2007 01:58 AM

Hi Rose,

I just wanted to follow up on your suggestion to use bleached all-purpose flour to make a firmer cake. I too have noticed that all the cakes I have made so far from the Cake Bible tast fantastic but fall apart easily. So are you recommending that we use bleached all-purpose as opposed to cake and pastry flour?

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thank you louise--that's great to hear and your kids are so very lucky to get such an early start!

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Louisa Morris
Louisa Morris
03/ 6/2007 06:01 PM

Hi Rose, just a note to say your books & recipes are fantastic. I have had my own wedding cake buisness for over 10 years & are now studying science food & technology. My children love making the yellow butter cake & chocolate butter cake into cup cakes (I always have egg yolks left over), as they can do it themselves, as its all in one bowl. Perfect every time.
Louisa Morris
Australia

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once frozen the best use for them is a purée or sauce.or raspberry jam!

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I am fortunate to have a freezer full of raspberries from our garden. I have tried to make your sour cream coffee cake using mostly defrosted berries on top of the streussel topping. It tastes good but is very heavy. Can you help me figure that out or do you have other raspberry suggestions other than the raspberry sauce which I do make.
Thank you in advance, Gail

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before you give up try one of MY recipes. if you are reluctant to commit to the cake bible or rose's christmas cookies, try one of the recipes under sample recipes on www.thecakebible.com (note the lemon poppyseed cake should use the flat beater not the whisk once the dry ingredients are combined)
it's very hard to help you with recipes i don't know.

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Although I am a good cook, I am a notoriously bad baker. I made a decision to learn to bake and have tried very hard to measure carefully and follow directions (I have been slack in both of these areas). I have made a few batches of cookies which weren't cookie (as most times my cookies come out like one flat cookie!). I have also made a few pans of blondies - but the past few times I tried, they were crusty on the outside and caramelly on the inside. Is my oven too cool or too hot? I measured very carefully; I'm about to give up on baking entirely. Help!

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it does sound like it was slightly over-baked but it is a very tender cake (though shouldn't have piles of crumbs). next time you make it try = weight of bleached all-purpose flour and it will definitely hold together better.

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To Aaron or someone else who has made the Perfect All-American Chocolate Butter Cake successfully:

How should this cake slice and serve? I made it today and I think I overcooked it a little. I was careful to weigh all of the ingredients and I covered the cocoa/biling water with plastic wrap as it cooled. (I also weighed it right after I mixed it and again when it reached room temperature to be sure it was the same.)

The cake had a great chocolate flavor and didn't taste too dry, but the slices crumbled when I tried to serve them (especially toward the center of the cake - the narrow part of the slice). During the course of cutting and serving it seemed all of the slices were missing about a third toward the pointy end and there was a pile of crumbs in the center of the serving dish. I assume the cake should not serve out this way.

Any help you could provide would be appeciated.

Thanks,

Brian

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john, the buttercream you tasted sure used a fat that was not butter. they have these types of ingredients and cake decorating supply stores. it's not something i favor however. mousseline is my fav. buttercream and holds up beautifully. but any buttercream made with butter will be more suspectible to heat. dipping your hand in ice water from time to time and switcing bewteen two piping bags so one has a chance to cool down helps a great deal.

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marti, the separation surely ocurred from too much heating and now that you discovered you didn't use enough chocolate that would explain why you had to cook it longer to thicken. all this would effect the cake but high altitude presents yet another problem which i can only speculate about since i live only 7 floors above sea level.

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virginia, the reason i add boiling water to the cocoa is that it breaks the cell membrane and releases mega flavor components.

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I have one correction/addition to the last post regarding melting the chocolate for the genois in the triple chocolate cake: in helping me, my son accidently only added 4oz of bitersweet chocolate to the water. This is why it didn't thicken, but I'm not sure that it accounts for the oil separation. Also, I don't know if that affected the genois not rising properly or not. Any thoughts?

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I made the triple chocolate cake from the Cake Bible for my son's 17th Birthday and have a question about melting the chocolate in the water for the genois. I stirred for a very long time, slowly in creasing the heat from low to med low in tiny increments, but the mixture never really came to a boil. It did start to thicken but soon started "separating" with the oil floating on top. It did remix and incorporate after cooling so I did use it. Is this normal? Additionally, the Genois baked without rising, but I'm also dealing with high altittude issues in Denver (5200 feet). I thought the water loss due to evaporation would account for decresing the water for high altitude baking, but I was incorrect or the decrease was either too little or toom much. Is there someone out there who can give me some specific tips for my altitude? Thanks!

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Re the evaporating water and cocoa problem. I never boil the water- the only reason to have the water warm in the first place is to allow the cocoa to mix easily and it will do this with warm water as easily as with boiling (or with asmaller amount of veryhot water and then adding the remainder cold). his avoids the evaporation issue AND you don't have to wait forever for to to cool. As abad girl who never reads ahead in recipes and has limited capacity for delayed gratification, this has saved me much agony in the kitchen.

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I use the non traditional buttercream icing recipe (cake bible). However I have found that it doesn't "hold up" at room temepratures and I cannot pipe it with any success. It does have incredible flavour though. I was at a party where a local cake maker had a cake which was said to have "buttercream icing". This was piped into flowers etc. It was very stable at room temps (70's plus).
However it had very little taste texture was almost but not quite cream. Any suggestions as to what they may have done differently. I was thinking perhaps some form of gelling agent?

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Rose, I'm so glad I found your site. I had a similar disaster with 500g high-quality chocolate which I overcooked. I kept it in the fridge hoping I might find a use for it. Have you ever heard of a use for curdled chocolate? What might mask/complement the 'new' texture?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Victoria.

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overcooked so it separated.

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Kathy Stanaway
Kathy Stanaway
12/12/2006 04:40 PM

I was making some hot fudge sauce. I doubled the recipe and the recipe separated. Butter on top and then curdled looking chocolate slop. What happened?

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wonderful--thanks for reporting back!

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I just wanted to say thank you to Aaron and Rose for finally figuring out the dry chocolate cake conspiracy! I made the devil's food cake recipe tonight and covered the cocoa as it cooled, and everyone agreed it was my best chocolae cake to date! Yay!

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despite the fact that you can no longer see either oil or butter once it is integrated into a cake its original characteristics of consistency remain the same, i.e. butter will become hard when refrigerated while oil will stay liquid and soft. carrot cakes are usually made with oil partly bc they often are frosted with cream cheese buttercream that needs refrigeration and partly bc they are delicious cold so oil is the better choice. in a nut shell: oil results in a softer texture in a cake but less flavor.

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Martha DeLeon
Martha DeLeon
11/16/2006 04:48 PM

Please excuse my ignorance as I am a novice baker just getting started. Can you please tell me what is the difference or what is the different effect on a cake using butter vs. using oil? In searching for a carrot cake recipe I noticed 9 out of 10 recipes use oil. I'd never given it much thought before...thank you.

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Ok. Thank you. You've been a great help.

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why don't you ask the girl how she makes the buttercream you like. she just might tell you or at least give you some hints. ask her if it's made with 10X or what kind of sugar. ask her if she adds anything else. little by little you make get to the recipe! i can't help bc i've never tasted this buttercream. i like the ones i offered in the book and have never tasted ones i liked better.so i'm at a complete loss to help you. your best bet is going to the source.

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Hi Rose it's me again, I ordered a buttercream cake and the girl said it was a buttercream that she uses ALL BUTTER. I loved it. I was soft and I did not taste the 10x suger. I'm sure that the sugar was regular suger. Now it was creamy but stiff. I wondering if you know any recipe that taste like this? Also, I did the mousseline, swiss buttercream and did not taste like the cake I ordered. I make my frosting with 1 c. butter and 2lb of domino's conf. sugar. I don't like the frosting because it's like eating the sugar straight from the bag! Help???!!!!!!!

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but of course i would never randomly add more water. as i mentioned above, i cover the mixture with plastic wrap so that it doesn't evaporate in the first place. what i appreicated was discovering that it's important to mention this!

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Although I liked the solution proposed by Aaron who solved the dry cake problem, I was a little concerned by his statement, "Adding a little room-temp. water, just before mixing the cocoa/water with the other ingredients has totally solved this problem." Seems to me that a more accurate way would be to weigh the cocoa water mixture immediately after it's mixed and jot down the weight. Then after it's cooled, weigh it again and add enough water to bring it back up to the proper weight. That way it will be spot on with the recipe.

DB

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Sandra S. Bell
Sandra S. Bell
11/10/2006 11:14 AM

I have sent these great suggestions to my daughter who does cakes etc for weddings. Thanks, Sandy Bell

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I had this problem tried all sorts of possible solutions. I tried using a real cheesecake pan - solid form with a metal plate in the bottom - This solved the spring form causing the cheesecake to become "off round" as some stuck to the springform as it "popped". With a cheesecake pan you could stand the pan on a 28 oz can of vegetables slice around the sides and body of the pan drops down. This still leaves the bottom to take care of.
I tried parchment rings but with my cheese cake still the question/problem of the bottom removal.

Then I saw something that was "almost a revelation". Large Metal rings. You place a piece of parchment paper on the an UPSIDE DOWN sheet pan (get the heavy Restaurant Quality ones). THen make the Cheesecake inside the metal ring on the top of the Paper. After baking and cooling you now just remove the ring and you have a large surface to gently pull on and remove the paper.

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you can wrap a cardboard round of the proper diameter to fit into the bottom of the pan with foil.

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I plan to bake two or three cheese cakes for a holiday party. to be able to re-use the spring form pan ( and not to lose the bottom, is there a way I can remove each one from the bottom of the spring form pan

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Funny coming across this post after having made chocolate cupcakes today, which turned out disastrous...just like my last few batches of cupcakes, haha. My baking has gone from bad to worse. *sigh*

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cupcake-size is usually around 20 minutes, smaller start testing after 10.

fill the liners about 3/4 full. if using silicone pans you won't get dipping in the center but with paper or foil cups which have less stability you probably will get some slight dipping. it seems to help to let the batter sit in the pans for about 20 minutes before baking.

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If I make cupcakes out of any cake recipe...various sizes like the paper nut cup size or mini muffin size, or regular cupcake size; how do I adjust the cooking time accordingly? Is there a formula to follow? Thank you!

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