This Cake ALWAYS Shrinks Considerably from the Edges
Posted: 11 September 2017 06:01 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I have a strawberry sheet cake that ALWAYS shrinks a good bit from the sides of the pan, often curving toward the center, and sometimes dips in the middle.  I have worked on this recipe for years, and it’s the only cake that gives me this problem. I have increased and decreased liquid, decreased baking powder, changed from cake flour to White Lily, which is a little stronger. I use the reverse-creaming method to mix the cake. Does the recipe needs less liquid ingredients, another egg, stronger flour?  I give up!  I bake the cake in a 13 x 9 Parrish Magic Line sheet pan at a true 350 F for 32 minutes (My oven never varies on recipe times; I am blessed!) Any insight will be appreciated; I’ve tried everything I can think of except for substituting some Gold Medal AP.  Here are the ingredients from my latest attempt:

2 3/4 cups White Lily AP (331 g.)
1 1/3 cups + 1 T + 1 tsp. sugar (281 g.)
1/2 box of strawberry Jell-O (43 g.)—Don’t laugh!  Tried the natural route via Cook’s Country Strawberry Dream Cake, I believe it’s called, but very bland…so back to Jell-O!
2 1/2 tsp. Calumet baking powder
>1 1/2 tsp. granular lecithin (Seems to give cakes a higher rise and softer texture)
>1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup pureed strawberries
1 cup whole milk
3 T. vegetable oil (I always add 1 T. oil per cup of flour for extra moistness)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. pure strawberry extract

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Posted: 11 September 2017 11:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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gershwingreen - 11 September 2017 06:01 PM

I have a strawberry sheet cake that ALWAYS shrinks a good bit from the sides of the pan, often curving toward the center, and sometimes dips in the middle.  I have worked on this recipe for years, and it’s the only cake that gives me this problem. I have increased and decreased liquid, decreased baking powder, changed from cake flour to White Lily, which is a little stronger. I use the reverse-creaming method to mix the cake. Does the recipe needs less liquid ingredients, another egg, stronger flour?  I give up!  I bake the cake in a 13 x 9 Parrish Magic Line sheet pan at a true 350 F for 32 minutes (My oven never varies on recipe times; I am blessed!) Any insight will be appreciated; I’ve tried everything I can think of except for substituting some Gold Medal AP.  Here are the ingredients from my latest attempt:

2 3/4 cups White Lily AP (331 g.)
1 1/3 cups + 1 T + 1 tsp. sugar (281 g.)
1/2 box of strawberry Jell-O (43 g.)—Don’t laugh!  Tried the natural route via Cook’s Country Strawberry Dream Cake, I believe it’s called, but very bland…so back to Jell-O!
2 1/2 tsp. Calumet baking powder
>1 1/2 tsp. granular lecithin (Seems to give cakes a higher rise and softer texture)
>1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter
3 eggs
1/2 cup pureed strawberries
1 cup whole milk
3 T. vegetable oil (I always add 1 T. oil per cup of flour for extra moistness)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. pure strawberry extract


Lower your oven temperature to 325.  Magic Line makes an excellent pan. It’s not your pan, it’s your oven temperature. The classic telltale sign of too high a temperature is shrinking at the edges and a slightly domed center. Cakes bake from the outside toward the center.  When the temperature is too high, the outer edges set quickly, while raw center continues to bake and rise.


Use moist cloth baking strips on your pan for an even level bake. My cakes are perfectly level on top. I can’t remember the last time I leveled a cake.  I swear by the baking strips.  I have a set of extenders so I can use them on larger square and rectangle pans.


For maximum strawberry purée flavor, use Rose’ purée method.  You will achieve maximum flavor from the strawberries using her method.


Omit the strawberry extract, and use a quality strawberry bakery emulsion. Bakery emulsions are suspended in water. Extracts are suspended in alcohol. Alcohol evaporates very quickly. And when the alcohol evaporates it takes both the flavor and the aroma molecules with it. Since water evaporates at a much higher temperature than alcohol, it does not bake out like an extract.


Omit the gelatin.  Gelatin is a strong binder. Just 1 tablespoon of gelatin is equal or greater to the binding power of one egg.  Just a single tablespoon will set 2 cups of liquid.  While it’s impossible to tell exactly how much actual gelatin is in the jello packet you’re using, there must be a tablespoon or more in half an envelope.  So at a minimum, your recipe has the binding equivalent of 1 or 2 extra eggs.


You’re actually getting double thickening action from the gelatin.  When the gelatin is mixed with the liquid and heated, it thickens.  It doesn’t coagulate while hot, but it thickens. Then as your baked cake cools, the gelatin solidifies. So the gelatin is giving you a faster set while baking, then a lot more contraction (shrinking) as the cake cools.


The mixing method you are using is essentially the high ratio method.  Your ingredient ratios are not within the standards for the mixing method.


For high ratio mixing, the sugar should be equal or slightly more in weight than the flour. In your recipe the sugar weighs 13% less than the weight of the flour. 


The liquid (including the eggs) should be equal or slightly more than the weight of your sugar. A rough estimate of the liquid based on just the milk (245g) and eggs (150 g) is approximately 395 grams.  Your sugar weight is 281 grams.  So your liquid is 29% more than the sugar.  And that doesn’t even count the liquid from the purée. 


If you omit the gelatin and bring these ratios into standards, you should achieve a better result in both texture and shape.


The lecithin is an emulsifier. It stabilizes the fats and liquids.  When the liquids and fats are stabilized, the carbon dioxide bubbles are more uniformly trapped in the batter.  This results in a more uniform crumb and higher rise.


Rose’s purée method explained
https://localkitchenblog.com/2009/06/19/roses-strawberry-puree/


A source for strawberry emulsion
https://www.olivenation.com/strawberry-emulsion.html


Baking strips
http://blog.wilton.com/index.php/easy-baking-with-bake-even-strips/

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Posted: 12 September 2017 06:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thank you so much for the thorough information.  I don’t like to cook or bake with “fake” ingredients, but couldn’t get around it in this cake.  I will try Rose’s strawberry puree, which sounds quite a bit—as I remember—like what America’s Test Kitchen used in their strawberry cake.  The resulting cake, however, was extremely shy of strawberry flavor.  I’m sure that strawberry extract/emulsion would’ve helped, but it wasn’t called for.  Anyway, THANKS again.  I shall thoroughly revamp my recipe.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Gershwingreen

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Posted: 12 September 2017 11:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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gershwingreen - 12 September 2017 06:24 PM

Thank you so much for the thorough information.  I don’t like to cook or bake with “fake” ingredients, but couldn’t get around it in this cake.  I will try Rose’s strawberry puree, which sounds quite a bit—as I remember—like what America’s Test Kitchen used in their strawberry cake.  The resulting cake, however, was extremely shy of strawberry flavor.  I’m sure that strawberry extract/emulsion would’ve helped, but it wasn’t called for.  Anyway, THANKS again.  I shall thoroughly revamp my recipe.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Gershwingreen

Nothing wrong with using gelatin:). Gelatin dates back to the 1400’s.  I use it in some gluten free applications.  Unflavored gelatin is a stock pantry item in my house:). But in your cake recipe there was a mighty trade off for the flavor.  I think you can achieve the flavor using other ingredients like bakery emulsions or flavoring additive, without compromising the texture and crumb.

Olive Nation also sells a line of flavorings called super flavors. I’ve never tried one, so I don’t know how much more punch they pack.  But certainly in commercial bakeries most of the flavors in their products are achieved through flavor additives. It is extremely difficult to achieve flavor with fruit. 

If you go into a restaurant supply store you’ll see they have a whole section on flavorings. Likewise, reputable baking schools routinely use flavorings and food dyed. It was an eye opener when I started taking baking classes in established culinary schools.  I was horrified when I took a wedding class at CIA—the cakes were made with shortening not butter!  Shortening rarely ever makes an appearance at my house..  if shortening is used in my house it’s because I’m going to fry chicken or doughnuts.


Everybody cheats;).

https://www.olivenation.com/strawberry-super-flavor.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3brz7pKh1gIViQFpCh0UNAnZEAQYBCABEgLloPD_BwE

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Posted: 13 September 2017 11:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Thanks again for the further information and your obviously kind and helpful nature.  I am familiar with Olive Nation and order my strawberry extract from there.  I hadn’t checked on the difference between an extract and an emulsion, and I haven’t heard of super flavors, but will look into that.

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