i use the oven thermometer i have listed on my website, it is pretty accurate and inexpensive. also, whenever any of Rose’s recipes takes longer to bake than indicated on the recipe, i always assume my oven is registering too cold than what the dial says. in my new oven, i got it down to add plus 5oF
David, we’re all rooting for you! Rose, too. Check out the blog, if you haven’t seen her latest comment. Given that you have the 2” high pans as per the wedding cake section in TCB, she thinks the increase in baking powder would be fine. But the shrinkage on the sides is another issue. She’s wondering about your pans - if they could be contributing to overbaking.
HDS, just a couple more points on the oven thermometer. I would try to get one of the ones that Rose recommends, which she has tested against a lab thermometer. If you get another that isn’t accurate, it won’t necessarily tell you much. Has anyone asked yet if the cake is pulling away from the side before you take it out of the oven? If it is, that is a sure sign of overbaking. The other point about oven temps—not necessarily relevant here—is that oven can be out of calibration in different heat ranges. Fine at 350, but off at 425 for example.
Bottom line, you want Rumford or, in Canada, Magic baking powder for cakes. These are baking powders that have monocalcium phosphate as the acid in conjunction with sodium bicarbonate. It’s quick-acting, so you must get your cakes in the oven promptly.
What brand do you folks in the UK and elsewhere find works well for your cakes?
To be quite honest, Carol, until I started reading and using American recipes I never even considered what brand of baking powder I used. It was JUST baking powder! I still don’t shop for any particular brand but what we find mostly on our supermarket shelves is the SUPERCOOK brand. I do check the use-by date as I have read that it quickly loses its’ efficiency but that’s about it.
Oops. I made a cake recipe on Thursday with Rumsford. It wasn’t a “Rose” cake and it was the first time I was making it. It was a lemon/cornmeal poundcake from the King Arthur whole grains baking book. I came out rather heavy, and didn’t rise to anywhere near the top of the pan. I wonder if I was too slow in getting it into the oven.
Hello all and thanks for the help. I tried the cake again last night with a noticeable improvement in the results but still not quite to 100% yet. I will try to get hold of a camera and take some pictures.
I am using Rumford.
I bought another oven thermometer (Taylor Classic) and tested it side by side with the thermometer I have already and both appear to indicate that the oven is accurate. I haven’t looked at Rose’s recommendations for oven thermometers yet but will do that next.
For the record I find my thermometer’s accuracy hard to believe. The oven is an old apartment oven that I’ve had for fifteen years. Could it really still be accurate?
It still seems to me the oven is running hotter than the thermometers indicate.
Matthew, funny you should mention the oven being off at different heat ranges. I think I have noticed that with the thermometer I do have and wonder if its not around 350 or so that the miscalibration is occurring.
I want to make the yellow cake (using my 9X2 pans) that Rose mentioned is a good tester for oven accuracy. Does anyone know if you can scale that one up by 1/3 like she recommended for the chocolate cake I’ve been struggling with?
One last question for now, would baking the layers one at a time have any effect? I put one in the fridge while one bakes. For my latest try I baked the first layer at 350 as indicated by the oven dial and the thermometers. It didn’t shrink nearly as much as it has in the past but was done and shrinking from the edge of the pan at the minimum baking time.
For the second layer I took a guess and reduced the heat by 25 degrees. The cake rose well and when cooled stayed higher than the first layer but formed a crumbly crust around the edge when it cooled.
Yes, you can scale the All-Occasion Downy Yellow cake up by 1/3. OR you can go to p. 492 and multiply the Yellow Base Cake ingredients by 4 (including baking powder for 9” cakes 4x6.52 grams). It comes to the same thing. Same cake, in other words. The value of doing the Rose Factor calculations is that it gets you more familiar with the system, so you can make any size you want in the future.
If your first layer was just beginning to shrink from the edge of the pan at minimum baking time, that’s good. The reason for that could be, as you’re guessing, that your oven runs a little hot. The recommended thermometer is a good idea, as is the test using the yellow cake.
Certainly, the fact that your 2nd layer behaved somewhat better with the lower temp points to a hot oven. But baking the layers one at a time also has an effect. Rumford is a fast-acting baking powder. By the time your 2nd layer makes it to the oven, the bp has lost some of its oomph.
I think I already mentioned this, but since you say the sides are shrinking, that is a sure sign the cakes are being over baked. For a butter cake, the sides shouldn’t shrink at all until you take it out of the oven.
If your first layer was just beginning to shrink from the edge of the pan at minimum baking time, that’s good.
Quite right, Matthew. Overbaking is part of the problem - undoubtedly the largest part. Julie made the same point, as did Rose in the blog. Sorry if I added to the confusion. I’ll try to be clearer re: the above quote.
I meant, and hoped that I implied in the subsequent sentences, that the first layer starting to shrink from the edge prematurely was good - only because that’s easily correctable! It’s not one of 1001 things hds still has to investigate. His oven is too hot! The fact that his 2nd layer behaved better at 325F corroborates this. He can also verify it easily, which he’s planning on doing, by getting a good thermometer and/or doing a test bake with the yellow cake.
hds also asked about holding the 2nd layer in the fridge. Not a problem with some baking powders, but my understanding is that this strategy is problematic with Rumford. It’s the best one to use for cakes, but being fast-acting means you need to get your pans in the oven promptly. I would be tempted to mix and bake each layer separately. Or if possible, get a new oven.
Some interesting developments in the latest effort tonight. Again I used 9x2 pans, increased the recipe by 1/3, and baked the layers separately due to a small oven. I set the oven to between 325 and 300 assuming that both thermometers are wrong. I used Rumford baking powder.
The layers rose much better than in past efforts. The first layer rose to just shy of the top of the pan. I removed it when a skewer inserted came out clean at about 35 minutes. It shrank just slightly after cooling.
Interestingly the second layer rose higher, to flush with the top of the pan or perhaps a shade higher, and I had to let it cook for 40 minutes (It was still jiggling at 35 minutes and the skewer test at the 35 minute mark proved it was still uncooked.
BUT, although neither layer shrank from the sides of pan until after being removed from the oven, they both developed a couple of cracks, not on the edges but about a 1/4 inch in from the edge of the cake (from where the cake met the pan) in several places around the circumference of the layers.
Additionally, the layers, especially the second one, are crumbly around the edge and seem to be a bit fragile generally. (Please note the crumbs taste moist). The layer baked second (which rose the highest and stayed in for 40 minutes) is especially delicate and crumbly around the circumference.
They are still cooling and I plan on frosting them tomorrow. They certainly look great. But I think the miscalibration of the oven means that I’m still leaving them in the oven a bit too long. I wasl also a little impatient this time and didn’t bother with the cake strips.
Sadly, I faced the similar problem with the All Perfect American Choc Cake last night - TWICE. I have only 1 inch of cake! I did everything according to the book. My oven temp is correct, my butter and yolks are at room temp, right pan size… I have also watched it being baked on YouTube - thousands times?! yah.
I must say while I love the taste, I simply could not get the batter to behave like Rose’s. But it did rise perfectly well in the oven, both of them, reaching almost 2 inch of height. When cooling both of them simply deflated and settled at 1 inch. I baked them separately. While I do not experienced a sunken or cracked cake, both are beautifully flat but the height of the cake is most appalling!
I am in Malaysia. We have a totally different brand of flour, baking powder, sugar.. if it is one of the ingredients contributing adversely to the results, I simply would not know where to start correcting now.. If you have any info / tips to share from someone you know from this region who managed to bake Rose’s cake perfectly, I do hope you could help me!
I will try again tomorrow with increament in the baking powder. I am cringing with trepidation. Will report back here on whatever the results. (not very confident though..) bonniev
We do have some members in Malaysia, bonniev, and I’m sure they’ll chime in when they see your msg. For now, will just say that the problem is more likely to be with the flour. What can you tell us about the type of flour you used?
Bonniev, you mention yolks- are you making the torte version in the 2” tall pan? Or using whole eggs and making it in two 1.5” tall pans?
I seem to remember another member from SE Asia that had a problem with the batter being too liquid, and it turned out her sugar had absorbed something like 2 oz of moisture, so that a cup weighed much more than it does here. Her batter was very liquidy, not thick and pudding-like.
Like Carolita, I would also suspect your local flour- is it bleached? Unbleached flour has smooth particles and the butter “slides off” them. Rose just posted over on the blog, that if you must use unbleached, bake your cake in a tube pan for the best results.