Since I bought RHC last year, I have not grown tired of browsing the recipes and imagining the whole process of baking and completing each of them. Actual baking of the sponge cakes, angel cakes and baby cakes (especially the financiers as shown in the pic) have turned out wonderful creations.
However, it has been a different story with butter-based and oil-based cakes… one of the earliest tries I had was the Woody’s Lemon Luxury Cake, which I shared in an earlier post (http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/index_ee.php/forums/viewthread/1793/) that the cake turned out denser than I thought. I continued to try out the Southern Coconut Cake with Silk Meringue Buttercream - the buttercream was absolutely delicious, but when the cake was out of the oven, they felt hard to the touch. I proceeded to ice them one layer on the other according to the recipe. It was confirmed that again the cake was too dense only when I was going to serve it and had to literally push down my weight into the cake to cut it!
Not to be discouraged, I tried the Banana Refrigerator Cake next. This was a disaster and a huge disappointment! By then, I had bought an oven thermometer, and ensured my ingredients were fresh and of the right temperature as indicated. The only thing lacking is the cake strip (I live in Singapore!), but that shouldn’t have caused the cake to flatten out and basically taste like pancake!
I didn’t really had the time to pursue the reason(s) further, but the last straw came a few weeks ago… A friend asked me to help bake a cake for his mom. I decided to try the Lemon Luxury Cake again… I was especially careful again with the temperatures, timing of beating, etc. This time round, it was even worse than the first time. The cakes were flat and heavy. The butter cream was soupy and hardly could hold when I tried to ice the cake.
I thought of Rose’ nearly-scientific approach to baking and was determined to prove that I can succeed in the recipes…. This time round I decided to give the Bernachon Palet D’or Gateau a try, and I would follow the recipe to the T. So yesterday, I bought an instant-read thermometer, finally, and used wet dish towels and foil to wrap up the sides of the cake pan in place of the strips. I measured the temperature of the butter (65 to 75 degree F) and the rest at room temperature as indicated. On my stand mixer, I beat the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients according to the recipe. I use a Kenwood machine, so I don’t really know what is “medium” on this machine. But I suspect it is not as strong as a Kitchenaid, so I turned it higher, and beat the batter slightly longer. The batter was thick and fluffy, as indicated in the book. The batter filled the pan halfway and I thought this time it would work.
The cake hardly rose throughout the baking, and I started to suspect something was not right (the height would be about 1inch, which seems too short). True enough, when I turned out the cake, it was very dense at about 1 inch tall. Just like the last few times!! Arrggghhh….
Temperature of the ingredients was not the problem. Neither was the oven temperatures since I have an oven thermometer that I monitored closely. The other 2 factors I could think of were only the baking powder, baking soda and perhaps not enough beating to strengthen the structure. I was not going to give up! This morning, I tried again, adding about 1.5times the amount of baking powder and soda as indicated, and beating on a slightly higher speed and longer time. .... Success finally!!! The cake rose to about 1.5 inches, was soft, moist and tender. The cake strip (wet towels) achieved a flat even top and soft side crust unlike the hard over-cooked side crusts I used to get. Finally…
I really hope that I have nailed down the issues. Perhaps I will give the Lemon Luxury Cake a third try… Wish me luck!