New oven, new location, dry cakes.
Posted: 16 December 2009 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]
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As I mentioned earlier, I am going to be baking my daughters wedding cake next July, so I’ve begun ‘practicing.’ I started with the SMB, which came out as delicious as always, and yesterday I baked the chocolate, yellow and white butter cakes, two six inch pans of each.

We are in a new home, so I am getting used to my ovens, plus we are at 3000 feet. Our other home in MT is at 5000 feet so I have learned to adjust everything to high altitude, but in TCB it said this isn’t much of a problem for 3000 feet. All three cakes took about 12 minutes longer then the 30 minutes recommended, which I didn’t mind.

The problem is the chocolate and white cakes came out very delicate and dry. The chocolate is so delicate there would be no way I could ice it without freezing it first. The chocolate cakes also had a slight dome in the middle, which the white and yellow did not. I did put the cake strips on the outside of the pans. I had in the past checked the temperature of the ovens and they were fine, but I didn’t redo this yesterday and probably should have.
Any suggestions on how to adjust this? I am sure it was me, but I’m not sure what I could redo. I’ll be bringing these for a tasting when we see them Saturday anyway, but would like to remake the chocolate and the white in the future so we can taste them ‘correctly.
As I said, I baked two of each, so I have the extra in the refrigerator with the Grand Marnier Syrup on them, I’ll taste a little preview of them tonight.

Thank you Rose for this wonderful sight, and to all the people who put so much effort in sharing ideas. I ordered Valrhona Chocolate (I never heard of it before reading this forum), from Verano’s in Seattle, since they have great prices and do sell smaller bags as well as the 5lb. bags of cocoa. This cocoa is worth the money, the flavor in the chocolate cake is the best I ever had in any cake. We do not have any of the bigger quality supermarkets out here in our rectangular states (no World Market!!!), so I count on learning about new products from other people.

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Posted: 16 December 2009 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It’s great that you’re practicing and planning well in advance of the wedding! Your daughter is lucky to have such a well-organized and conscientious mother.

A few thoughts:

I’m assuming you’re using Cake Bible recipes, is that right?  It also sounds like you did not adjust for altitude, is that also right?

Dry chocolate cake- did you measure the water after it came to a boil and then keep it covered?  Too little water can cause a dry cake.  I’m assuming your test cake used Valrohna cocoa powder, so the fat content of the cocoa shouldn’t have been a problem.  Did you weigh flour and cocoa?

Dry white cake- did you weigh egg whites?  They have gotten larger (and yolks smaller), and too much white can cause a dry cake.  Did you weigh flour? 

Good luck with your project!

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Posted: 16 December 2009 11:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thank you Julie, what great suggestions.

I did use TCB recipes, and Valhrona cocoa in the chocolate cake.  I also measured the water after boiling, which I had read in this forum (great suggestion too), but I did not ‘weigh’ ingredients or use high altitude adjustments, which I will do next time.

Thank you, thank you, for the hints on eggs and egg whites.  I couldn’t get the egg whites to ‘measure’ exactly, so I thought, oh, more egg white, more moisture!  Silly me, I am sure there was more egg whites then called for. I didn’t know this about egg whites ‘drying’ the cake out.  I’ve asked for a baking scale for Christmas, and since I get to pick it out, I’ll be getting it.

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Posted: 16 December 2009 11:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I haven’t tried baking at altitude, but I think it requires more flour, so you don’t want to go that route if your cake is already dry.  Too much flour can cause dryness, as can overbaking- too long or too hot.

I’m happy for you that you’re getting a scale- I love baking with one!  Did you check out Rose’s recommendations?  She likes the My Weigh.

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Posted: 16 December 2009 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Thank you.  I hadn’t checked on this sight for that.  Wow, there has been so much I’ve learned in the last two weeks.  I did see her recommendation for thermometers and will probably try one of them too.  I have one, but I’m never sure how accurate it is, so I figure with my oven temp set (as I said, these are new ovens), my old thermometer and one new one, I should get a good comparison.
I know someplace I read (was it TCB?), where Rose recommends baking a certain box mix in your oven to check the oven temp. 
I agree, no extra flour. I do believe I need to weigh everything, and check the oven temp. 
Linda

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Posted: 16 December 2009 12:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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On page 448 of TCB, Rose recommends baking the Downy Layer Cake (pg. 390) to test the temperature of the oven.

Good luck!

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Posted: 16 December 2009 02:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Thank you.  I knew I read it someplace, so I’ll try that.  I’m going to also try having my watch on to make sure I mix more accurately, perhaps I went a little over the time, I just used the minute timer on the stove.

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Posted: 16 December 2009 04:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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It I very important flour is meassured by sifting directly on the meassuring cup,let the fluffy flour fill the cup on its own, do this over a piece of paper, so you can catch the mess which should go back in the sifter.  Level by cutting with the back of a knife, no tapping or pressing.  This gives you the right amount of flour if you don’t have a scale.  Otherwise u r meassuring too much flour which makes the cake dry.

R u using cake flour?

R u using a stand mixer?  Usually, if the cake turns out too crunbly is because you haven’t mixed long enough.

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Posted: 16 December 2009 05:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Thank you Hector! I have been using a ‘dip and sweep method’, but not sifting over the cup like that, it makes good sense. Hopefully I will have a scale soon. I do have one, but it isn’t digital and I’m afraid not accurate enough.

I am using cake flour, and a stand mixer - Kitchen Aide 5 qt.

I’m beginning to think it is a combination of several things, the oven temp, the measurement of the flour and eggs/egg whites and the length of time I mix, time to start wearing a watch again!

I really appreciate everyone’s help. What a treat to have all of you with experience offer me information, I am looking forward to baking much more now. Before this if something didn’t work I usually stopped baking it!

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Posted: 16 December 2009 05:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Thanks Kathleen.  I knew I read someplace about baking to check your oven.  I might have to try this, I can ALWAYS enjoy a piece of cake.

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Posted: 16 December 2009 09:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Oh my, the dip and sweep method of measuring flour will definitely give you a dry cake!  Try sifting the flour into the measuring cup, according to Hector’s instructions, and I’m sure your cakes will be much, much improved.

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Posted: 04 January 2010 05:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Hi everyone,

I’m assuming that unless indicated Rose uses only Green & Black Cocoa for her chocolate recipes. If that is the case, maybe the Valrhona should measured by volume since it may have a different base weight than the G&B. Amy of Amy’s Bread (NYC) in her cake recipes only uses Valrhona and she says if you use any other cocoa or chocolate for her recipes to use the volume measurement since they will weigh different than the Valrhona. Maybe this is what we should do with Rose’s recipes also. Just a thought since cocoa powder has a drying effect on cake. I know Rose’s recipes are extremely balanced so the little difference in weight between the various cocoas can make a difference in whether the cake is dry or moist. I believe a similar issue was disscussed on this forum sometime during the summer of 09. I hope this helps.

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