Problems with the German Chocolate/Chiffon cake
Posted: 05 March 2010 06:46 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I baked the German chocolate/chiffon cake with great success the very first time I tried it, but sadly my past 2 attempts have met with failure.  The cake layers aren’t rising to the levels they should.  I’m pretty sure it’s not ingredients.

Part of the problem is probably that I’m baking 2 layers on 2 different racks in the oven, because my oven will not accommodate two 9” pans on one rack. And to keep the magi-cake strips around the pans, I had to place the pans on small cookie sheets - enough to shield half of the lower cake from the upper heating element.  I think the non-rising issue did not happen the first time I baked the cakes because I was too lazy to use the cake strips (but of course the cake ended up a little dry) so I didn’t have any cookie sheets shielding the lower pan, but the upper round pan would have definitely shielded SOME of the lower pan.

The second time I baked the cakes, both cakes rose to only about 1” high and were a little dense.  Today, the cake on the upper rack rose to about 1.5-1.75” while the cake on the lower rack, which was partially covered by the upper cake, stayed at about 1” the entire time.  The upper cake, although not very high, is less dense than the lower cake, but still very different from my first attempt.  If the problem were solely the shielding of the cake pan, the upper cake should have baked normally.  So I’m at a bit of a loss.  Could another contributing factor be that the upper cake is on the MIDDLE rack instead of in the LOWER THIRD of the oven as Rose specifies?  Would that make a difference to how the cake rises?

Anyway I’m going to try baking one cake at a time with the rack in the lower third of the oven, to see if it helps anything.  My question is:  Should I make 1/2 the batter, bake one cake, and then make and bake the other half?  Or would it be alright to make the entire recipe and allow the second pan with 1/2 the batter to sit in the refrigerator while the first pan bakes?  I’m concerned about the effect on the leaveners.

Thanks in advance for any advice!  Need this cake to work for a birthday in April!

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Posted: 05 March 2010 09:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’m not sure…because I have limited experience with this cake…only made it once.  But why do you need a sheet pan to keep the magic cake strips on? I pin them in place and they stay fine.  I also have an oven that won’t accomodate 2 9” pans…I did the two pans for this cake on different levels staggering the pans so that they weren’t one right on top of the other, and switched the positions 2/3 of the way through…worked fine.  I would post this question on the blog on the page dedicated to the new book.  Rose will see it there…she doesn’t always read the forum.  I think she will need to address this question.

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Posted: 05 March 2010 02:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Whenever I bake on more than one level I also switch the postions. Also if I bake 3 cake pans at one time. You need to rotate them so they all get even amounts of heat. They always come out even and the same height.

Hopefully this will solve your problem and it’s not an issue with the beating.

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Posted: 05 March 2010 11:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I’ve had issues with this.  For starters I can never get my oven completely level (I think the racks inside are not level—so I adjust the racks by raising the sides with silicone strips so that I can get as level as possible!)  I can do 2 9” pans on one rack, but when I tried to do 2 -9” and 2-6” in the oven at once, I found they baked unevenly.  I’m paranoid about keeping the oven open too long while moving/rotating, so I play it safe and do 2 9” pans at a time—much better than wasting (ok…having to eat an unlevel cake!) or rebaking.  I’ve baked this cake several times and had success so long as I didn’t over fill my oven (that is—try doing 4 pans at once).  When I do only 1 racks worth…so much better.  I’ve also found that if the strips are oversaturated, they really retard the baking too much—so you may have to double check that they aren’t too wet.  Aside from the “too many pans in oven” incident, this cake has always baked to the 2” high mark for me and very, very level—for that reason alone it’s one of my faves!

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Posted: 06 March 2010 01:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Thanks so much for the input!  This morning’s attempt was a failure again, with BOTH cakes rising to only 1” in the oven and after removal, shrinking to about /2 in height :-(  I didn’t use the cookie sheet to support the pans this time, pinning the baking strips on really tightly to prevent their falling off, and changing pan positions 2/3 way thru.

Sherrie I’m going to check my strips - it could very well be that.  When attaching them to my pans, my table ends up with puddles, so that might be an indication they’re too wet!  And, the strips go halfway again around the pan (and for some strange reason I always thought that was a good thing!) - so in fact they might be preventing enough heat from reaching the batter early.  It’s interesting to note that my only success from this recipe came from when I DIDN’T use any strips.

Sigh.  Might be worth investing in those silicone strips.

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Posted: 06 March 2010 03:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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One time I wrapped a large wet cake strip around a small pan, so most of the pan had a double-layer strip. It was way too much insulation! So I would suggest letting the extra go off in a loop to the side of the pan, rather than doubling up.

Have you checked the temperature of your oven with a good oven thermometer? Maybe it is running a little cool to start with, and then the wet, double-layer strips are slowing the baking down more…

Why not experiment with refrigerating one layer while the other bakes? You’re already having cake problems (time to make cake pops or cake truffles!) so you have nothing to lose.

Does your oven have a convection setting? Perhaps the extra air circulation would help when baking two pans at a time. You might need to turn the temperature down by 25 degrees. Again, you’ll have to experiment.

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Posted: 06 March 2010 04:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Hi LittleIsland,

The overwet strip could very likely be the problem—-I’ve done this and the doubling up is amplifying the problem.  As far as the strips, I don’t “wring” them out, but I run fingers on both sides until it doesn’t drip and should basically be very well damp… As far as silicone goes, I actually think the fabric ones work slightly better (although much more of a pain to use—mine also have a funny metallic odor).  Hope you get this working in your favour soon!

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Posted: 17 March 2010 06:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Sherrie - that stacked wedding cake you did is SO GORGEOUS.  I love it, love it, love it.  Especially the pin-starburst design.  Your layers for the chocolate cake look nice and high for each.  I hope I manage to figure out how to get it right soon.  Part of my problem (apart from magicake strips that were too wet) has been oven temp which I’ve now adjusted.  Don’t know if I need to adjust it still slightly higher.

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Posted: 19 March 2010 12:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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LIttleIsland - 05 March 2010 10:46 AM

I baked the German chocolate/chiffon cake with great success the very first time I tried it, but sadly my past 2 attempts have met with failure.  The cake layers aren’t rising to the levels they should.  I’m pretty sure it’s not ingredients…

Just curious, how much of what brand of baking powder are you using, and how old is it (how long has it been since originally opened)?  I am suspect of the doubled strips as well, but it would be good to test your oven temps to confirm them and look for uneven heating. Rose has a method of checking the baking temp of the oven using one of the yellow cake recipes (Vs. time), it would be a good test for you to use.

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