1 of 3
1
New to the two step method and having trouble
Posted: 09 October 2009 06:17 AM   [ Ignore ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  41
Joined  2009-10-09

I have written to Rose about a problem I am having and she has been very helpful.  I thought I would post the issue here.

I’m an amateur baker with a few years of experience. After a lot of effort, I’ve actually come to like the creaming method for baking butter cakes and regularly make basic butter cakes using that method.  But I want to give the two step method a try. I am having a heck of a time with the chocolate cake on page 54 of the Cake Bible, the Perfect All American Chocolate Butter Cake..

I am using Dutch processed cocoa (although for one attempt I did try a cocoa which I think might have been “natural”) The same problems occur regardless which type of cocoa I use, to wit: the layers cook very fast, always under the 25 minute minimum; The height is only an inch and in each of over six attempts, the layers shrink in diameter about 3/4 of an inch all around and collapsed after cooling.  I used cake strips for the last couple of attempts and the results were exactly the same.  The cake rises evenly to the top of the pan and looks great.  Then five minutes out of the oven it shrinks considerably.

The oven temperature is correct. I use a thermometer and have tested it.

I have tested the baking powder and it’s active.  Although the 15 grams of baking powder amounts to more than the tablespoon which is supposedly its equivalent and called for in the recipe.

The butter and eggs are at room temperature, around 68 degrees

I use cake flour and baker’s sugar.

I am timing the mixing exactly and mixing at the speed according to the recipe on page 54

The one way I am not following the recipe is by using pans that are 9 by 2 inches, not 9 by 1.5.  I asked Rose about this and she advised I increase the recipe by a third.  I did and the problems persisted for two more attempts.

My guess is that I may be undermixing the batter or using too much or too little baking powder.  But as far as I can tell I am following the directions exactly.  I have also tested my scale (its digital) and its correct.

Can anyone diagnose the problem?  I thought the two step method was supposed to be virtually fool proof and easier than creaming butter and sugar, but I’ve had no luck so far!

Thanks

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 October 2009 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4746
Joined  2008-04-16

hds, I admire your perserverance!  By the time this is all done, you will have learned a lot and mastered a new skill.

If I understand your issue, your cake rises to the top of the 2” pan while in the oven, then falls while cooling, both denting in the middle and shrinking from the sides of the pan, is that right?

Here are a few thoughts:
-measure baking powder by volume (measuring spoons) rather than weight.  It is normally more accurate than weighing small amounts. An over-leavened cake can fall.
-are you getting a clean toothpick when you check for doneness?  An underbaked cake can fall.
-are you unmolding the cake after ten minutes of cooling?
-is your mixer a Kitchen Aid or similarly powerful machine?  Undermixing can also contribute to a cake falling.  With a hand mixer, you would need to increase beating times, possible by as much as double.

The two-step method is generally a little more fool-proof than the creaming method because it coats the flour proteins with butter, so there is less chance of overmixing and the resulting cake is very tender.  With the creaming method, even a little overmixing can contribute to a tough cake.  That said, scratch cakes are tricky in general, requiring everything to be just right.

Good luck!

 Signature 

B&T Blog:  Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 October 2009 11:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1031
Joined  2007-11-21

If the cake is shrinking that much…I’m fairly convinced that you are over baking.  Maybe there is something wrong with the oven thermometer.  (Just a guess, I’m not an expert)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 October 2009 11:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4746
Joined  2008-04-16

Yes, now that I have read your exchange with Rose, I agree with Bill (and Rose).  Is your cake higher on the sides and fallen in the center (crater-shaped)?  Or does it just shrink all over, maintaining a fairly flat or domed shape?  If the latter, I suspect overbaking and/or a higher protein flour than what is called for.

 Signature 

B&T Blog:  Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 October 2009 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  575
Joined  2007-11-18

HDS123:
  Good morning & welcome to our baking circle. I am sorry to learn of your baking disapointments. Many of our members have baked this cake & perhaps not all have succeeded, but many have. If everything being equal, ie, correct measurements, oven temp, ete.
There is only one item that is in variance…that would be time. I mean my friend the time it takes to develop the gluten in the flour. I believe your cake collapses because of lack of gluten development thereof. The criteria isn’t that you mixed the batter in the exact amount of time the recipe says. But agitate the batter to develop the gluten. My opinion is in the 2 stage mixing method it requires a little bit more mixing in time than the recipe reads that is why many members fail using this mixing method. Go by what you see & feel & not by the clock.
  I hope this post will give you some insight to make the correct decision for your next attempt. Good luck & enjoy the rest of the day my friend.

  ~FRESHKID.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 October 2009 04:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  41
Joined  2009-10-09

Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

A couple of you wondered whether it craters or sinks in the middle.  As I wrote to Rose this morning, I had that problem when I first started baking with the creaming method but have worked out the kinks with that method.  I should emphasize that is not what is happening now.  Its more as if the cake shrinks, deflates or shrivels (Pick your description)  like air going out of a tire.  It does not dip in the middle.  The layers remain flat.  Its as if upon cooling it becomes a significantly smaller version of what it was when it finished cooking.  For the last attempt I used cake strips and the results were exactly the same as the previous attempts.

I test the cake with a skewer towards the end of the baking time and it comes out clean, but again as I told Rose, to the touch the cake doesn’t spring back.  I am fairly sure there is some structural issue going on.

I am using a Kitchen aid standing mixer and waiting about ten minutes before unmolding.  For the last two attempts I did indeed go with the volume measure for baking powder since the weight measure seemed unreliable.  I also turned the heat down to about 330. 

What is striking is how absolutely consistent the results have been.  I get the exact same results each time (and its been more than a half dozen attempts so far):  The cake seems to cook fast (though the last attempt was closer to the 30 minute mark); it tests done with a skewer but doesn’t have any spring to the touch, the layers rise perfectly to near the top of the pan; And they shrink and collapse dramatically about five minutes after leaving the oven and are dense and heavy when cut.

I have to say that I have come to love creating that emulsion in the creaming method.  It took me awhile to understand and recognize the visual cues and develop confidence.

I think the problem is that I don’t have a feel for the cues in this new method.  I’m pretty sure I am undermixing.  I am going to try once more with a new thermometer, fresh baking powder and longer more thorough mixing and see what happens.

Thanks for your help!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 October 2009 06:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  266
Joined  2007-11-18

hds123:

Where do you live? The problem may be related to altitude. Try to find out what altitude your living at and then PM me. I have a lot of experience with this! My first gut reaction when I read your initial post was: altitude problem made worse by undermixing. If your next attempt doesn’t work, definitely PM me!

Roxanne

 Signature 

Visit my blog: The Mile High Baker at http://www.milehighbaker.blogspot.com

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 October 2009 07:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  865
Joined  2008-03-09

Curiouser and curiouser. I’ve been following this discussion and the exchange with Rose. I may have an answer ? if not for hds123, then for those who’ve had less than stellar results with the Perfect All-American Chocolate cake. I don’t want to make a total fool of myself, but I’ve checked my math six ways from Sunday (a bazillion times, in other words). There may be a baking powder error in the recipe.

I’ll post to the blog in hopes that Rose has time to check my theory. But if anyone else wants to check it, the Perfect All-American Chocolate cake on page 54 is RF3 of the chocolate base cake in the Large Wedding and Special Occasion Cakes section of TCB. So it should have 22, not 15 grams of baking powder (7.35x3). For two 9” x 2” high pans, it should have 29 grams of baking powder (7.35x4 or 22x1.33).

I have a very special relationship with this recipe having made it for my daughter’s wedding 11 years ago and many times since. But mostly, I’ve worked from the wedding cake section recipe or the Rose Factor chart in conjunction with the base formula.

I don’t remember working from p 54-5 myself but did give the recipe to my daughter. Her results were not great, she said, but I don’t know if it was exactly what was happening for David. All the other issues you’re checking are very worth checking out. We learn a lot when things go wrong! Good luck.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 October 2009 08:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  41
Joined  2009-10-09

Roxanne and Carolita

Thanks very much for your replies.

I’m at sea level in California so its not altitude.  I’m thinking the culprit is under mixing, though I won’t know for sure until I try it again.  I’m reasonably sure the oven thermometer is accurate. Its only a few weeks old and has been no where but in the oven.

I am just getting acquainted with the Cake Bible and haven’t really figured out the charts at the back of the book yet.

I may try more baking powder based on Carolita’s observation

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 October 2009 10:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4746
Joined  2008-04-16

For what it’s worth, I still think that it could be overbaking.  Perhaps try taking the cake out of the oven while there are still a few small crumbs clinging to the toothpick.

 Signature 

B&T Blog:  Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 October 2009 10:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  313
Joined  2009-07-24

In TCB, Rose has a very ingenious method for testing oven temp. without a thermometer (see page 448): bake the Downy Layer Cake (pg. 39). “If it takes longer than the recommended time,  you know that your oven is too low at the setting used.” Conversely, I would guess that if it takes less than the recommended time, the oven is running hot.

 Signature 

Please visit me at http://cookinginmexico.com/ for recipes and photos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 October 2009 10:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1074
Joined  2007-11-15

I have to say that my first impression too from reading your descriptions is that you are over-baking the cake. I don’t know if this has been mentioned, but many oven thermometers are unfortunately inaccurate—some grossly inaccurate.  Not sure why they bother to sell them, but the same goes for measuring spoons and cups.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 October 2009 11:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1429
Joined  2007-11-18
Matthew - 10 October 2009 01:52 AM

I have to say that my first impression too from reading your descriptions is that you are over-baking the cake. I don’t know if this has been mentioned, but many oven thermometers are unfortunately inaccurate—some grossly inaccurate.  Not sure why they bother to sell them, but the same goes for measuring spoons and cups.

Matthew, I agree with you. My butter cakes never used to rise the way they should until I bought the Pourfect spoons. I checked my measuring spoons against the Pourfect and sure enough they were off. Obviously my baking powder and baking soda amounts were inaccurate. I am so glad I bought those spoons.

 Signature 

http://heavenlycakesenjoyedonearth.blogspot.com/

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 October 2009 11:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  500
Joined  2007-11-24
Matthew - 10 October 2009 01:52 AM

I have to say that my first impression too from reading your descriptions is that you are over-baking the cake. I don’t know if this has been mentioned, but many oven thermometers are unfortunately inaccurate—some grossly inaccurate.  Not sure why they bother to sell them, but the same goes for measuring spoons and cups.

I have two different (inexpensive, supermarket brand-type) oven thermometers and they disagree by about 25 to 30 degrees. So I concur with Matthew—if you are using a well-tested recipe and following it carefully, you may do better to believe what the baked goods are telling you, rather than what the thermometer is telling you!

Ditto for measuring cups. I have an old Pyrex measuring cup that gives almost 2 Tablespoons too much liquid in a cup! (To be fair, I also have several others. all Pyrex brand, of various sizes, and they all are accurate. I check them out by filling them with water and weighing the water, then using the information in Rose’s books to figure out how much xxx cups of water really should weigh.)

 Signature 

Please visit my blog:
Bungalow Barbara

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 October 2009 02:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1419
Joined  2007-11-15

I am uncertain why you first assume the issue is with the 2 step method.  But if that is the case, I would recommend watching Rose on youtube, there are a few with this method.  Happy baking.

 Signature 

http://myyellowkitchen.com/index-equipment-html/

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 October 2009 04:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  41
Joined  2009-10-09

Thanks all.  I"m not assuming the issue is with the two step method.  I’m assuming its that I’m doing something wrong.  I’ve gotten the creaming method down pretty well and enjoy it mostly because it took forever to understand the idea and master it, but want to learn the two step method since its faster and presumably easier and results in a more tender cake, and because its something new to learn. 

I have watched most of Rose’s videos on youtube (I made the Orange chiffon cake after watching her make it and it came out perfectly.  I had never made or eaten one—at least not since childhood).

I’ll get another oven thermometer and test it and let you all know.  But as recently as last week I baked a two layer butter cake using the creaming method and it came out well using the oven thermometer I currently have, but only a test against at least one other thermometer will tell.

I will post the results as soon as I have a moment

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 3
1
Back to top