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Getting started with the CB
Posted: 14 July 2008 02:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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i also tried the all purpose and the cake was dry and too dense. i am starting to feel like I"M the dense one!

jen

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Posted: 14 July 2008 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Did you use cake flour?  Are you using an oven thermometer?  If your all-occasion downy yellow butter cake was dry, it was overbaked.

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Posted: 14 July 2008 02:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Jen, did you use cake strips?  I did and I wondered if that might have contributed to the dry problem as well.

Now I did read awhile ago on Julius’ blog that he increased the mixing time to create a sturdier cake:

http://occasionalbaker.blogspot.com/2008/05/celebrate-good-times.html

I find making a cake is so much harder than making bread.

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Posted: 16 July 2008 02:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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I had a little bit of the crumbly problem when making Rose’s chocolate cake (don’t remember the exact name of the recipe, but it’s her “basic chocolae cake” recipe.) I use a hand-held electric mixer and even though I beat a bit longer, I think probably I didn’t beat long enough. Also my oven was running a bit on the cool side and it took longer to bake—that might have affected the texture. I think there may also be a personal preference issue here. I like cakes with a little more “tooth” to them.

Cakes do seem to be “fussy!” I know a lot of people are intimidated by making pie crust, but personally I find pie crust easy and cakes much more tricky. Of course, I’ve been making pie crusts for 25 years now…so I guess we just have to keep trying and experimenting until we find what works for us!

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Posted: 16 July 2008 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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I made the white chocolate whisper cake yesterday and this cake turned out very well.  Cooked in the correct amount of time and pulled away from the sides after I removed it from the oven.  Not at all dry and not crumbly except around the edges.  I did notice this was a fragile cake in the sense I had to be very careful not to break it while transferring it to the cake stand.  I mixed this one longer than the recipe called for.

My first attempt at the Neoclassic Buttercream, however, was an absolute disaster!  Instead of smoothly incorporating the corn syrup/sugar mixture into the egg yolks I somehow managed to have thick corn syrup lumps that no amount of beating or heating could get rid of.  I had to throw away the whole mess and try something else. 

If there’s a way to botch a “fool-proof” recipe I’ll find it…LOL smile

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Posted: 21 July 2008 09:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Sarah,

The buttercreams are indeed a bit tricky, they may not be the first thing to make when starting out with cakes!  For me, the ganache-type frostings are the easiest, and so intensely flavorful, they are lovely. 

If the syrup clumps and solidifies when you add it to the eggs, it has probably cooled a little too much.  This happened to me early on, too, and I now leave it in the pan (ie, I don’t pour it into a glass measure to stop the cooking) and try to work pretty quickly.  With the other buttercreams (non- corn syrup), I leave the thermometer in to monitor the temp, it never rises much after I take it off the heat, so my pans must just adjust to temp changes quickly. 

If you have access to a stand mixer without planetary action, this is the ideal thing for buttercreams, because both hands are free to fuss with the syrup and you don’t have to keep turning it off and on, you can pour the syrup in a steady stream aimed away from the beaters. 

Best of luck with your cakes, before long your skills will be admirable!

Consider using your bread-making skills to make the Cake Bible’s Savarin (brioche transformed into a cake and served with lots of beautiful summer fruits!).
Julie

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Posted: 22 July 2008 12:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Hi Julie,

Thanks for explaining where I went wrong.  It’s true: I didn’t work fast enough and the syrup did cool down.

I agree the BCs seem tricky, particularly the Classic BC, which I’m not at all daring enough to try…yet.  But I think I’m going to set aside an afternoon to try and master the Neoclassic…or die trying smile  I’ll use your tip and leave the syrup in the pan and see if that helps.

Growing another pair of arms wouldn’t hurt either. smile

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Posted: 22 July 2008 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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sarah, are you sure they were balls of syrup or could they have been bits of cooked egg?

give up on the neoclassic and go straight to the classic. use a candy thermometer and go for it. it seems a lot more complicated than it is.  have your eggs ready ( you can beat those eggs for a long time before there are any negative effects, affects?) and get your sugar up to temp. pour a small amount of the sugar onto your yolks to temper add a bit more and so on until it’s all in and then just let it beat until it cools. i have a stand mixer and until I got good at pouring the syrup poured and mixed poured and mixed, but once you feel confident you can pour it in there without turning off the mixer.

but as julie already pointed out you can’t wait on the sugar. so don’t have anything else going on until you perfect your technique.

it’s funny to me that i can make gallons of BC with my eyes closed and can’t make a simple butter cake from scratch!
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Posted: 23 July 2008 11:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Hi Jen,

Yes, they were balls…lumps, really…of syrup.  Ugh!

I’ll bite the bullet and try the Classic BC because I really do want to get this down.  We should get together: I can manage the cake and you can produce the BC.  A perfect partnership! smile

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Posted: 23 July 2008 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Sarah,

Just a few other thoughts- make sure you have a good thermometer if you’re going to try the non- corn syrup buttercreams, test it first in boiling water, etc.  You could also use a thermometer with the Neoclassic, just to see what’s going on with the temp. 

I start out the syrups with the heat on high, then turn down the heat as the temp approaches 248, so it reaches the final stage more slowly.  I think this may be part of the reason I am able to leave the syrup in the pan and pour it directly into the eggs.  Leave your thermometer in the pan if you can while taking it off the heat and puring it in.  That will tell a lot about what’s going on with the syrup.

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Posted: 23 July 2008 08:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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I think I may have done it!!

I tried the Classic BC this afternoon and used the tips given here.  Tested my thermometer, had everything ready to go, left the syrup in the pan, worked quickly, and managed to not end up with lumps, syrup in the beaters, or a curdled mess.

Having never made this kind of BC before I was surprised it was pale yellow…is that right?  I don’t know why I was expecting white, considering the eggs and butter, but I thought I did something wrong.

I was also unsure, after beating the syrup into the eggs, how thick it was supposed to be at that stage.  Mine was pretty thin until I beat in the butter and then it became…well…not super-thick but thicker and creamy.

Finally, I noticed this BC is very soft, very airy and delicate.  I noticed the same thing with the Classic Egg White Chocolate BC.  It almost seems like it is too soft to cover a cake with right after it’s first made.  Do these BCs need to rest a bit (maybe in the fridge?) before frosting?

I flavored this with lemon and I seriously had to restrain myself from eating the whole bowl.  It was like a lemon cloud…delicious and ethereal.

I hope this sounds right, but even if I botched another batch at least this one is edible. smile

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Posted: 23 July 2008 11:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Sarah,

Congratulations!  You did it!!  Don’t you feel great?  I’m so happy you made the lemon, it is my favorite of the classic/neoclassic variations that I’ve tried so far (though I’ve been wanting to try the pineapple for a while now). 

Yes, the classic buttercream is fairly yellow, from the egg yolks.  For me, the yellow color is welcome for flavors such as lemon.  Check out the photo of Rose’s blueberry swan lake, which is frosted with lemon classic buttercream, you can see the lovely color.  It can be soft when just made, but it spreads so easily.  If you do make it a day ahead, be sure to follow all Rose’s directions- bring to room temp then rebeat (I do this by hand with a whisk, just takes a minute).

The whitest buttercream is the Mousseline, made with only egg whites. I end up making it when my extra egg white collection gets too big.  It is more challenging for me, the curdling stage can be worrisome and time-consuming, but it usually turns out well in the end.

The silk meringue is probably my favorite for the apricot and the caramel-based flavors.  It is time-consuming, but I never get the curdling and worry that always seems to accompany the mousseline.

Best of luck with all your baking,
Julie

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Posted: 24 July 2008 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Hi Sarah - Julie is correct, the mousseline bc is the whitest in appearance.  Don’t hesitate trying it… use all the same tricks you used to make the classic bc and you’ll be fine!

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