In the spirit of RLB…
Posted: 22 August 2010 01:04 PM   [ Ignore ]
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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…  wink  Wish me luck!

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Posted: 22 August 2010 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Kenneth - 22 August 2010 04:04 PM

I tried again, adding about 1.5times the amount of baking powder and soda as indicated

How are you measuring these?

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If error is corrected whenever it is recognized as such, the path of error is the path of truth.

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Posted: 22 August 2010 01:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Congrats Kenneth on figuring out the issue!  Great persistence!  One thing to keep in mind is small measurements (ie: tsp etc.) need to be bang on as small variations (as you found) can make a huge difference.  Which leads to the point that it is vital to ensure your measuring spoons are accurate (some are not!).  Unless your scale is designed to measure in such small increments, it’s best to use the spoons.

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Posted: 22 August 2010 02:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Your financier-shaped cakes look gorgeous, nice presentation!  Lovely job on the chocolate cake, too, so glad you found a solution that worked.  I admire your perserverance!

You mentioned that you are in Singapore, which led me to wonder about your flour:  is it bleached?  Many countries do not sell bleached flour, and the fact that your sponge cakes turned out better than your butter cakes makes me think it could be the flour.  Sponge cakes do not require bleached flour, but butter cakes do.

And do you think your baking powder is either old/less active or a different formula than American powders?

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Posted: 22 August 2010 02:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Nice Financier!  And your cake looks perfect to me. I’m glad you didn’t give up

It sounds like Julie hit the nail on the head.  Are American products available to you via the internet?

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Posted: 22 August 2010 07:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Julie,

I routinely use sifted whole wheat flour (unbleached) for butter cakes, and they always turn out tender. I always use Rose’s recipes, or her method if it is a different recipe, to be sure it is a tender cake.

Another thought—Kenneth’s baking powder may need to be replaced. I live in a very humid climate. Right now, the humidity is around 90% (coastal Mexico), and I’m sure Singapore is very humid also. The only way I can keep baking powder fresh is to keep it in the fridge, as moisture destroys its action. All fridges are self-defrosting now. This keeps moisture low in the fridge and keeps the baking powder dry. Until I started refrigerating baking powder, I often had problems with it. The fact that his cake rose when he increased the baking powder by 50% may mean it is weak because it has absorbed moisture, therefore, he needed to use more.

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Posted: 22 August 2010 11:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Fabulously done—and with amazing perserverence!  Your ingots look like little jewels in a bo!  Really lovely!

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Posted: 23 August 2010 03:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Those look fabulous, Kenneth! Way to persevere. It really paid off.

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Posted: 27 August 2010 07:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Kathleen, good to know that about the baking powder, makes perfect sense!

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Posted: 01 September 2010 01:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Kenneth, I hope you do try the lemon cake.  I never liked lemon cake until I tried Roses and it has become my favorite. Even though I had four different types of cakes for my daughters wedding, the Golden Dream was the one that was eaten the quickest, with many people telling me they never liked lemon before that one.  Good luck with figuring it out, I live in a higher altitude and dry climate and always have to make adjustments to most baking recipes so I understand the frustrations.  You sound persistant and I know you will prevail!

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