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Testing a New Baking Ingredient

Jul 19, 2014 | From the kitchen of Rose

Cake_Enhancer.jpg

When I read on the internet that there was a new product called a cake enhancer, that was purported to produce cakes that would be softer, moister, more fluffy and stay fresh longer, I couldn't resist trying it, especially when it consisted of familiar ingredients such as rice starch and fatty acids derived from vegetable fats, which act as emulsifiers, allowing fats and liquids to combine more easily and also serve as stabilizers and texture enhancers.

I made two identical cakes, with all ingredients weighed, and at the same temperature, mixed for the same amount of time at the same speeds, and baked in the same size pans. I added the recommended 1 tablespoon of cake enhancer per cup of cake flour to one of the cakes. This batter was promisingly smoother and spread more easily but the baked cake was disappointing. It rose significantly more than the control cake but cracked a lot on the surface. It was sweeter, less flavorful, fluffier, and more dissolving, but rather than being moister, had a slightly dry aftertaste, though becoming pasty on chewing.

Comments

Hello,
Actually, I was looking for ways to cut cost in production but after testing for a long while..I decided the use of emulsifier is not need. Once a cake is balanced and good... emulsifier can take a back seat.

REPLY

But i find it unnecessary.
Another area in which gel emulsifiers work is recipes that requires the whites to be whipped such as ... butter cakes that have separated eggs...the gel stabilizes the white better and helps in the texture.

REPLY

Hello Charlie,
Thanks for the request. I will share my findings here on the blog.
We all know that bakeries...large volume production bakeries use emulsifiers or cake enhancers to boost production and cut cost.
From my findings, not all cakes are suitable for emulsifiers or enhancers. Some cakes will benefit greatly from it especially hot milk sponge cake, angel food cake and others such as chiffon and genoise.
Gel based emulsifiers such as Excel sponge helps in the whipping of eggs and sugar to reach the full ribbon stage. I aslo noticed that such cakes will rely on all purpose flour to help in the overall structure. If you use cake flour...the cake will sink and cave in by the side. Well one can use equal amount of cake flour and all purpose flour, but i find it unnec

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Charlie Farrell
Charlie Farrell in reply to comment from Olawale Taiwo
08/29/2017 01:14 PM

Wale,

I'm interested in your results. Thank you.

Charlie

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Kathy Tobacco
Kathy Tobacco in reply to comment from Rose
04/15/2015 04:14 PM

I think Olawale wants some mug cake recipes because they are consumed "hotly" rather than cooled and frosted. My favorite recipes for mug cake come from Table for Two. One can put cake batter in a waffle iron too. Those cup cake bakers are much cheaper than a good toaster oven but I have never used one. As far as making cakes in a pan, at first I thought of upside down fresh fruit type cakes but then I remembered the skillet eventually goes into the oven.

REPLY

Olawale Taiwo
Olawale Taiwo
07/25/2014 12:43 PM

Hello Rose,

Thanks for this post and for testing the cake enhancer. I have been researching lately on cake enhancers and emulsifiers.

I have tried products such as Excel Sponge Gel emulsifier, which requires whipping with eggs before adding to the butter-sugar mixture. My experience with this product has been here and there..I still cant confidently say, I have cracked its logic.

Bakeries tends to use emulsifiers and shelf improvers to boost production and overall quality of baked goods. In my experience of the gel type emulsifier, adding it to the cake does improves the quality but it weakens the cake and the cakes can collapse by the side. I have experienced this several times.

I'm currently writing my full experience with the emulsifier and selected cake recipe. Will update you as soon as the write-up is ready.

Thank you.

Wale

REPLY

qurrat, i recommend that you buy a toaster oven. cakes don't bake well in a microwave and the only cakes i bake in a pan are pancakes.

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charles, the proof is always in the pudding! my results were based on four people blind taste testing. i more often than not agree with CI but not always for example, i do not like vodka in pie crust. i find that it toughens it.

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Hi
hope u doing well and i feel you are expert in baking i want to know the recipe of cake either its simple brownie cake or simple cake or simple cake via adding coconut ,,,
i have a problem i don't have oven and i am very fond of making small cake that can be made any time or can serve hotly so kindly tell me some recipie that i can make in microwave or in some pan.i try microwave cake but often after 15 min it goes to harder n harder not soft...plzz i need your help..

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Hmmm, apparently not CI. Their March 1, 2011. issue said the cakes tasted identical, but the enhanced cake was fresher 3 days later.

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KA has had this sort of thing in their catalog ever since I've been getting it. I've always had the idea that the stuff produced an inferior product, but I don't know where I picked up that idea. Maybe Cooks Illustrated?

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Melinda Pickworth
Melinda Pickworth
07/19/2014 04:41 PM

I forgot to fill in my name. Sorry, that comment was from me!

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That is really interesting, Rose. I, too, saw the cake enhancer first on the King Arthur web site and was curious about it. I am glad you think it is not an improvement. Do you know why, or have a theory why, the cake split on the top?
I wonder if the cake enhancer would act differently with a chocolate cake batter? The ph would be different and perhaps have different results.
Are you planning further tests with different types of cakes?
( Can't wait to buy your new baking book. I think another trip to England should be on the cards! x)

REPLY

Thanks for testing that, Rose. I saw this product on the King Arthur Flour website for the first time. Although I respect the folks over at KAF a lot, I was skeptical of this product. When baking their recipes that called for it, I would simply omit it. I'm glad you proved to us that we don't need it :)

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Rose, what I've always appreciated about your style is: its driven by perfection. That allows me to recreate your amazing recipes in my own kitchen, with pure ingredients, with near-flawless results the first time. Cake enhancer screams "convenience food". I bake from scratch to avoid such additions, so i'm not at all disappointed it didn't actually enhance anything. ;) Thanks for all you do!

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Thank you for testing!

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