first try of TCB recipe - fail
Posted: 21 April 2012 10:02 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Dear Bakers!

I recently got The Cake Bible since I am working on my skills to be able to make a wedding cake in about a months time.
Since I live in Germany, the ingredients available here might be different (cream comes in 30% and 32% fat) and thus I am here to discuss what substitutions might work/why recipes fail for me.
First of all, I had to solve the “cake flour problem”. After researching on the internet, I came to the conclusion that “Cake Flour” has more starch and less protein than regular flour. Flour over here has 9.8 % protein, so I decided to mix it 50:50 with pure wheat starch (“wheat powder”).

In an attempt to do exactly as said, I measured out my ingredients for the White Velvet Butter Cake (page 46) and although the way of mixing them together looked different from what I’m used to, I followed the instructions. Despite mixing in the Eggs in four parts instead of the suggested three, the mixture curdled. Oh no. I attempted baking it nonetheless, but it ended up being horrible and pretty inedible.

I don’t usually give up easily. However, I had no time to go shopping again and my remaining ingredients would only make up half of the recipe. So I ditched Rose’s instruction and started combining the ingredients the way I am used to: cream butter and sugar together, then add eggs one tablespoon at a time (I measured the eggs out in a measuring cup with a spout), then add my flour+whear starch mixture, baking powder. When I tried adding the milk the recipe stated (a tablespoon first) the dough started to curdle slightly. Heck no! I was able to beat it all in (I usually scrape the sides last, using the bits on the side as an anti-curdling insurance) and decided to omit the milk (1/4 of the amount of milk required had gone in with the eggs, it’s the remaining 3/4 of milk amount that had to stay out).
After baking for a while longer than expected (I made only half the measure of ingredients and while the full amount is said to bake 25 to 30 minutes, this needed 40 minutes until a wooden skewer would come out clean), I ended up with a lovely little cake.

Why?
So I’m guessing the European milk may be the culprit. I got the milk yesterday, and only opened it for baking (when I took the ingredients from the fridge to warm up to room temperature).
3.5% fat
pasteurized, homogenized, extended shelf life (not UHT, just HT)
3.3 % protein, 4.8% sugar

By the way, what exactly is meant by “lightly combine the egg whites..[...]”? I put my hand mixer in and out (for a second?), and my egg whites had already started to foam up. Is “lightly combining” bringing together with a fork?
Is Rose planning to publish a European version of the book? I measured out the egg-whites and instead of 4 1/2 large eggs, it only took me 3 1/2 medium eggs. In the pursuit of the perfect cake, I will continue to measure stuff out - thankfully, the margins of the book (and the paper!) are well suited for personal notes.


Thank you so much and happy baking!

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Posted: 21 April 2012 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Clara - 21 April 2012 01:02 PM

Flour over here has 9.8 % protein, so I decided to mix it 50:50 with pure wheat starch (?wheat powder?).

I think the ratio probably should be closer to 75:25 of your flour to starch.  More importantly, though, is that our cake flour is bleached, but your flour probably isn’t.  Others here will guide you on how you can fix that.

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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: 21 April 2012 04:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Hi, Clara!

Yes, combine lightly is with a fork.  Just a little stir.

I think Charles is right, too, re the starch proportion.  Usually, in my cookbooks that have European recipes, they use corn starch along with all purpose flour, but perhaps wheat starch is okay, too. 

Rose’s recipes recommend bleached flour for the best texture, but I’ve made them with unbleached flour.  You get a rather large “birdbath” in teh center, but it can still be done if you reduce the baking powder by about 1/4 tsp per 9x2” layer.  Some people without access to cake flour use “Kate Flour” (search this site), which involves what looks to me a rather tedious process of slowly microwaving the flour to denature the proteins.

It’s hard to imagine the cake coming out horrible and indeible—I have had lots of cakes technically “fail,” but they were always good, so I’m wondering if an ingredient was somehow “bad.”

Please keep us posted—good luck with your wedding cake!!!!!!!

—ak

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