How to make cakes moister
Posted: 19 April 2012 10:00 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi Everyone,
Im new to this forum and very excited to chat and share baking experiences and tips with you all!

I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions or experiences on how to make their cakes more “moist”
I have read a lot about people suggesting oil in their cake batters, but then dont the cakes turn out more dense?
I have always used butter which creates a whipped effect and produces more air for rising, but sometimes the cakes are not as moist as I would like them to be, even though I make sure to pull out of the oven as soon as I insert a toothpick and I see some crumbs.

I have also heard about replacing half the butter with oil, adding some mayo, yogurt, or sour cream to the batter but not sure how much and whether this “addition” would impact the chemical reaction in the recipe?

Any insights would help!  grin  Thanks

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Posted: 19 April 2012 11:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hi, Ssara!

I’m not a fan of oil cakes, myself, but many people prefer them.  They do have a “super-moist” feel about them—to me, it’s spongy and sticky.  But of all the chocolate cakes I’ve made, two people picked the German Chocolate “cake part,” which is an oil cake, to be their favorite of all, so oil cakes are a definite way to go.

Another possibility is to syrup your butter cakes.  Again, I’m not a fan, but many are, and, if the weight of the sugar in the syrup is equal to the weight of the sugar in the cake, it will moisten, but not sweeten, the cake.  Several of Rose’s recipes call for syrups—the lemon poppyseed bundt cake from RHC comes immediately to mind—but you can syrup any butter cake.  You can also flavor the syrup with liquers and such if you want to.

In cakes that have more fiber, like Rose’s Cordon Rose Banana Cake, you can add additional “weighty” ingredients like sour cream—she gives a starting point but, in the footnote, says you can use up to (I think it’s 4x as much) for extra moistness, becuase the fiber in the bananas can support it.

Of rose’s cakes, I’ve found the Golden Luxury Butter Cake to be the moistest and fluffiest.  It uses white chocolate for part of the sugar (and fat), as well as all egg yolks.  It’s my favorite yellow cake.  I think that buttermilk is supposed to produce a very moist cake, so you might want to try the TCB buttermilk country cake and see if you like it.  It also uses all yolks, but you can sub 2 eggs for 4 yolks if you prefer (I like all yolks, myself)—Rose does this when she uses this cake as the base for the RHC spice cake.

Using mayo would be rather akin to using oil, I would think.

On the whole, though, I’d think (1) oil cakes or (2) syruping would be your best bet. 

Something interesting about oil:  Rose has two banana cakes: The TCB Cordon Rose Banana Cake and the RHC Banana Refrigerator Cake.  These cakes are identical, except that Cordon Rose is all butter and Banana Refrigerator Cake uses all oil.  Later, Rose modified the Cordon Rose by suggesting bakers substitute 2T of oil for 2T of butter, to make the cake moister.  I personally love the original, but this gives you an idea for the same cake made 3 ways—at 3 levels of “moistness.”  I personally love the original Cordon Rose with the maximum sour cream!!!

I hope some of that is helpful!!!

—ak

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Posted: 21 April 2012 01:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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with mine it is either oil or simple syrup… OR I use Torani ,  Italian Syrup that comes in may flavors.. that way you don’t need to make the simple syrup..

If a cake calls for butter,  I use half oil and half butter.  Or I wrap the cake in foil as soon as it comes out of the oven… it holds the moisture inside.

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Posted: 21 April 2012 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Hi Sara- if you make any additions, they need to be carefully substituted for existing ingredients or your cake will likely fall- i.e., if you decide to try oil, it needs to be subbed for butter, remembering that butter is only 81% fat.

Try a chiffon cake- it’s oil based but doesn’t need syrup and in my experience is a real crowd pleaser- there’s the chocolate chiffon (Ger choc cake base) in Rose’s Heavenly Cakes, also in that book are the orange, lemon (check Rose’s blog for flavor details) and coffee.  You can also check The Cake Bible for traditional chiffon.  Where compatible flavor-wise, you can use nut oils (that still taste like nuts, like the one from Tourangelle) for the best flavor.

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Posted: 27 April 2012 02:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Thanks all for your responses!

I have heard of the syruping method, which sounds intersting… and the chiffon is a good one too!

But I had recently heard about the foil as soon as the cake comes out of the oven too… which I have tried and its not bad smile

Prettycake: when you use half oil, half butter…do you melt the butter and measure it the same way as you would oil?  And Julie, how would I overcome the subbing oil for butter even though butter is only 81% fat and remaining water mositure?  You’re absolutely correct that the ingredients need to be substituted accordingly and I dont want a cake failure !!

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Posted: 27 April 2012 01:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Hi sara,

Yes I melt the butter to go w/ the oil. My substituting has not failed me yet.  Not once.  As long as I am not making very drastic substitutions like replace oil w/ more water,  then it should fine.  I do not worry about fat content.  I aim for flavor and texture.  Fat and calories are the least of my worries.

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Posted: 09 July 2013 02:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Per Anne, previously in this thread:
“Another possibility is to syrup your butter cakes.  Again, I’m not a fan, but many are, and, if the weight of the sugar in the syrup is equal to the weight of the sugar in the cake, it will moisten, but not sweeten, the cake.  Several of Rose’s recipes call for syrups—the lemon poppyseed bundt cake from RHC comes immediately to mind—but you can syrup any butter cake.  You can also flavor the syrup with liquers and such if you want to….

Of rose’s cakes, I’ve found the Golden Luxury Butter Cake to be the moistest and fluffiest.  It uses white chocolate for part of the sugar (and fat), as well as all egg yolks.  It’s my favorite yellow cake.  I think that buttermilk is supposed to produce a very moist cake, so you might want to try the TCB buttermilk country cake and see if you like it.  It also uses all yolks, but you can sub 2 eggs for 4 yolks if you prefer (I like all yolks, myself)—Rose does this when she uses this cake as the base for the RHC spice cake.”

Hello All,
I was excited to see this thread about keeping cakes moist, as I am making the second of two wedding cakes for friends this summer. (My first wedding cake was just 2 weeks ago, and it went very well, thanks to members of this forum!) The next wedding is in 2 weeks and I would like to assemble the cakes 2 days ahead so. i can attend a family tea for the bride the day before the wedding. I have tried syruping before, but it is a mystery to me. I know Rose has a chart in TCB that I can use as a guide, but how do I gauge how much is actually enough for my cake? I did try to syrup a cake once, but it definitely was not enough, or I didn’t give it enough time to distribute throughout the cake. (I was afraid it would turn to mush.) Does anyone have any tips on this?

I was also happy to see Anne’s reference to Golden Luxury, and mention of subbing whole eggs, as this is the cake I was planning to use. I’m planning on subbing 2 eggs for 4 of the 6 yolks, just because I would like a paler yellow cake (& maybe subbing part of the milk for buttermilk for moistness?) Will it still stand up to the filling I’m planning to use, which is a white choc frosting bumped up with raspberry puree and sprinkled with red raspberries inside - a 3-tier cake.  (Thanks to Prettycake for answering my questions yesterday about the longevity of fresh raspberries in the filling- she made a beauty of a Red Raspberry Cake that’s displayed in Show&Tell;.).

Any helpful comments, ideas or tips about any of the above would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Posted: 09 July 2013 10:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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re: syruping a butter cake, in the wedding cake section of The Cake Bible Rose recommends 1 cup of syrup for every 2 cups of sugar in the recipe.  For the Golden luxury cake, you’ll probably want to take into account the sugar content of the white chocolate as well as the sugar added to the recipe.  You can check the nutrition label on the white chocolate to get the sugar content.

I don’t have any experience with the golden luxury cake- especially not as a wedding cake, so hopefully others will chime in smile  At the very least, you may want to consider reducing the baking powder in the larger sizes (i.e., 12”) so that the cake doesn’t have a dip in the middle.

re: buttermilk, I don’t think it adds any additional moisture compared to regular milk in a yellow cake.  From a flavor standpoint, I recommend trying it in a small size before committing to it for the wedding cake.

Good luck!

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Posted: 14 July 2013 10:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Thank You Julie,
I will plan to use the 1:2 syrup to sugar ratio.  I chickened out on converting the Golden Luxury Cake to a wedding cake and used Rose’s Yellow Base butter cake wedding cake formula instead, (very straightforward and took out the guesswork on my part!) I made 6-10-14” sizes, which I froze. I’ve been doing all the research I can on syrup on buttercakes, and many people (Anne in NC for one) say they are not a fan of it - can you tell me the downside? I tried to follow on the advice I’ve seen on avoiding dryness in the large tier, but is it inevitable? I think I’m fixating on DRY WEDDING CAKE!

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Posted: 14 July 2013 11:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I wonder if this would work for cakes?

http://www.seriouseats.com/talk/2013/06/water-roux-makes-bread-extra-soft-tender-and-fluffy.html

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Posted: 15 July 2013 09:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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SR in Portland - 15 July 2013 01:28 AM

I’ve been doing all the research I can on syrup on buttercakes, and many people (Anne in NC for one) say they are not a fan of it - can you tell me the downside?

I have come to the conclusion that I’m not a fan of syrup + bleached cake flour.  Cake flour lends a particular flavor (sweet, floral) and super-tender texture to cakes, and all I can say is that syrup, for me, somehow emphasizes the floral-sweet quality a little too much.  For my taste, that floral quality is just OK- in the same vein, I don’t particularly favor Tahitian Vanilla, I prefer the flavor of Mexican Vanilla if one is able to choose.  For butter cakes made with AP flour or sponge cakes, I like them syruped.  And I don’t completely dislike syrup for a bleached cake flour cake, it’s just that I like it better without. 

All that said, I have syruped every butter cake I’ve ever made that was either large or made ahead, especially if it was not frosted immediately upon cooling.  I believe that I’m in the minority and that most people like a syruped butter cake. I think that moisture is a huge factor- maybe even more important than flavor- in determining if people will like a cake.  If it were me, I’d syrup it.  I’ve only made one tiered cake from the downy yellow (it was a classic yellow cake with chocolate buttercream), but I did syrup it and everyone loved it, some came back for seconds, etc.

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Posted: 15 July 2013 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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CharlesT - 15 July 2013 02:21 AM

I wonder if this would work for cakes?

I’ve seen this around the bread community, too smile  For bread, I prefer potato or sweet potato to a roux, it does the same thing and I like the flavor that potato gives.  Must confess that I love spuds in general.  Saw a cookbook at the Library that was 100% potato recipes and was so happy to bring it home I nearly danced the whole way.  But I digress… both potato and roux will substitute a starch gel for some of the gluten-forming flour, changing the nature of the bread’s structure. 

For cakes, this is a very interesting thought.  A genoise will often take advantage of the starch effect by incorporating cornstarch.  But I bet a roux would work wonders if you needed to use AP flour in a cake flour recipe- Rose uses potato flour for this purpose in her power of flour posts.  Would also be interested to learn if there is any difference between adding cooked starch vs. dry powdered starch, which is less work.

Food for thought smile

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Posted: 15 July 2013 11:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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grin THANKS for your comments Julie - just what I needed to hear, and informative.

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Posted: 15 July 2013 11:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Julie - 15 July 2013 12:59 PM

any difference between adding cooked starch vs. dry powdered starch, which is less work.

I’ve made the test for bread and potato flakes vs potato starch. The dry starch didn’t absorb the moisture during mixing, so the dough was way too wet. After adding enough flour to make it mixable, the dry starch later absorbed the moisture during fermentation, so the dough got too dry. The flakes absorbed water during mixing, so the drying effect occurred at the beginning where it was needed.

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Posted: 16 July 2013 09:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Charles, that’s interesting!  I’m itching to do a test bake on this- one butter cake with dry starch subbed for part of the flour and another with roux- I wonder if a cooked roux would allow more moisture to be added to the cake without falling?  And if the strength of the gel, being added at the beginning, might keep the butter in suspension even if using unbleached flour?  I also wonder if using a cooked roux might add stability to a trickier sponge cake, like genoise…

I don’t really have any reason to be test baking things that aren’t bread, but this is just so interesting, I must try to fit it in smile

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