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Safeway bleached all purpose flour problem
Posted: 15 July 2010 02:55 AM   [ Ignore ]
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As I have posted recently, I have run into some problems lately especially with a couple of the chocolate cakes in the new book.

Among your helpful suggestions was to check the oven temperature.  I’m now convinced that the problem of shrinkage after cooling (note, they are not dipping in the middle but shrinking or shriveling at worst) is not being caused by a high oven temp.  I’ve got two thermometers and they are both giving the exact same reading Albeit the oven is off by about 40 degrees but this has been true for years and I have baked mostly with success.

I’m wondering if it could be the flour.  In my most recent (and third attempt) with the chocolate layer cake on page 104, I used bleached cake flour instead of bleached all purpose flour that I have been using on the chocolate tomato cake (made with tomato soup) or on previous attempts at the chocolate layer cake.  I also reduced the baking powder by a 1/2 teaspoon from 2 to 1.5 teaspoons on the assumption that it might be a leavening problem.

The cake had a much better crumb than any of the previous attempts with either of these cakes and very little of the fudgey gooey density that marred previous attempts was present, if any really.

My previous attempts were definitely a structural problem of some sort, I am now convinced.  The cakes in my previous attempts rose nicely but I could tell that even at the maximum baking time that although they were cooked through they never really got firm to the touch.  There was just not a firm structure there.

In the latest instance the cake was done at the half way point between the minimum and maximum time and sprung back firmly.  It may have been a shade lower than optimal height after cooling, and I am tempted to attribute that to the lessening of the leavening, not the oven temperature.  All other variables were just as in the recipe: room temp eggs and butter measured with an instant read thermometer; mixing time precisely with a timer and as I said, the oven temperature checked with two thermometers.

I think that leaves the flour as the most likely culprit.  Especially since a couple of the cakes baked in fluted tube pans for which I used the Safeway brand of bleached flour also had similar structural problems.

Has anyone on the west coast (not sure where else Safeway supermarkets operate) used Safeway bleached flour?

Thanks for your help, and I willingly stand ready to be corrected or contradicted.

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Posted: 15 July 2010 02:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I should add that I adjust the oven temperature based on the reading of the thermometers

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Posted: 15 July 2010 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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hds123 - 15 July 2010 05:55 AM

I’m wondering if it could be the flour.  In my most recent (and third attempt) with the chocolate layer cake on page 104, I used bleached cake flour instead of bleached all purpose flour that I have been using on the chocolate tomato cake (made with tomato soup) or on previous attempts at the chocolate layer cake.  I also reduced the baking powder by a 1/2 teaspoon from 2 to 1.5 teaspoons on the assumption that it might be a leavening problem.

Hello hds123,

  I don’t have Rose’s new book yet, but if the recipe in the book called for cake flour and you were using AP flour instead, then that would make a difference. Cake flour has a lower protein content, more starch, and it’s finer in texture compared to AP flour. These qualities of cake flour are what make it a better flour for cakes so they are light and delicate with a nice tender crumb. With a higher protein content in AP flour it can lead to more gluten formation in the cake making it tough in its texture. Also, since cake flour is finer in texture it can readily absorb fats which will help make sure that butter and other fats in the cake are more evenly distributed. I live on the west coast, too, but I have never used Safeway AP flour (or any other brand of AP) in any of Rose’s cakes. All of her cakes that I have made so far have all called for cake flour. She may have a a few recipes that call for AP flour (I’m not sure), but none of the cakes I’ve made called for it. I’m not sure how much of a difference the adjustment you made to the baking powder amount made. It’s hard to tell since you changed more than one variable this time around, but I still suspect it has more to do with the cake flour than with the difference in flour rather than the amount of baking powder.  Perhaps someone else can comment on that.

  It sounds like you’re on the west coast, too. If you’re close to a Winco Foods grocery store they sell bleached cake flour in bulk. I think for around 30-40 cents/pound. That’s what I use and it has worked really well for me. Good luck with your cakes!

~MP smile

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Posted: 15 July 2010 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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MP, Most of Rose’s recipes that call for cake flour in the new book also give the option of bleached all purpose flour which hds used, so, in this case, I don’t think that aspect is the problem.

HDS, good to know that one must be careful of flour brands!  I always stick to major brands for baking, as baking can be so tempermental.  If it’s any help—and I know folks use lots of brands with good success, so you might hear from others—I use Swan’s Down cake flour and Gold Medal bleached all purpose, both with great results!

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Posted: 16 July 2010 02:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Hello all

Yes indeed it was bleached all purpose flour that I used.  Believe me when I say that the store brand of flour wasn’t my first choice.  I normally use Soft as Silk cake flour but wanted to give all purpose a chance because I actually prefer the less delicate texture of all purpose flour.  I didn’t see anything other than Safeway’s brand of bleached all purpose flour, but will look elsewhere.

Thanks

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Posted: 16 July 2010 08:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I didn?t see anything other than Safeway?s brand of bleached all purpose flour

This trend of stores cramming their shelves with their often rotten brands to the exclusion of others personally drives me batty.  I refuse to buy them.

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Posted: 16 July 2010 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I have had very consistent performance from Gold Medal bleached AP, and its protein content is a little lower than King Arthur, which is a good thing for cakes.

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Posted: 16 July 2010 11:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Just to throw something completely different into this discussion—I don’t use bleached or cake flour. I usually use sifted whole wheat flour, and my cakes made from Rose’s recipes are always great successes. So it is possible that the problem is not necessarily due to the flour.

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Posted: 16 July 2010 11:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I usually use sifted whole wheat flour

Kathleen, you’ve mentioned this before, and I’ve wondered:  if you sift whole wheat flour—and thus remove the bran, etc.—is your net result still whole wheat flour or does sifting make it, more or less, the same as unbleached all purpose flour?

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Posted: 16 July 2010 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Kathleen - 16 July 2010 02:23 PM

Just to throw something completely different into this discussion—I don’t use bleached or cake flour. I usually use sifted whole wheat flour, and my cakes made from Rose’s recipes are always great successes. So it is possible that the problem is not necessarily due to the flour.

Kathleen,  do you alter the amount of whole wheat you use when the recipe calls for cake flour?

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Posted: 16 July 2010 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Anne, sifting the flour removes the bran, but I’m still left with flour that is light brown in color and has a sweet, nutty flavor. It tastes and looks very different from white a.p. flour. Sifted w.w. flour still contains the germ (wheatgerm), which is what makes w.w. flour more susceptible to becoming rancid if it is not fresh to begin with and kept refrigerated.

missyjean, I sift the flour first, then weigh it. I use exactly the same weight called for in the recipe.

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Posted: 16 July 2010 12:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Many thanks, Kathleen!  That makes sense!

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Posted: 17 July 2010 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I’m intrigued by the use of whole wheat flour.  I generally don’t have any objections to bleached or white all purpose flour in cakes etc.  They’re not health food.  But I would love to give it a try with whole wheat flour for the novelty.

Any thoughts on why whole wheat flour works in Rose’s recipes given the admonitions we are all aware of concerning the properties of bleached flour?

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Posted: 17 July 2010 06:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I purchased some whole wheat flour this morning.  The store had KA 100% whole wheat and KA white whole wheat.  Does anyone know the difference?

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Posted: 17 July 2010 10:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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White whole wheat is made from white wheat kernels, while the other is made from classic red wheat.  The red has higher protein, stronger taste (some say bitter) and darker color.  You can find information on the King Arthur website.

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Posted: 18 July 2010 02:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Anne in NC - 15 July 2010 02:42 PM

MP, Most of Rose’s recipes that call for cake flour in the new book also give the option of bleached all purpose flour which hds used, so, in this case, I don’t think that aspect is the problem.

HDS, good to know that one must be careful of flour brands!  I always stick to major brands for baking, as baking can be so tempermental.  If it’s any help—and I know folks use lots of brands with good success, so you might hear from others—I use Swan’s Down cake flour and Gold Medal bleached all purpose, both with great results!

Thanks for clarifying, Anne. I really need to get Rose’s new book, but I’m afraid my copy of TCB will get jealous, especially the cakes in there that haven’t been made yet. I really need to conquer the cakes in TCB.

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