Reducing leavening per cake pan size
Posted: 22 August 2012 02:48 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I have had trouble with a couple of chocolate cakes sinking in the center lately.  In one case, I used a 3” deep pan and in the other I took a recipe that was for 2/8” pans and put it in a 1/4 sheet cake pan.  Although I used bake right strips and two nails the cake was dry on the outer edges and wet in the middle. In the Cake Bible, Rose talks about reducing the baking powder for a base recipe based on pan size.  What if the leavening is baking soda?  I read where Rose talks about the type of flour and the leavening being important with a sinking problem.  The most recent failure called for all purpose flour and didn’t specify bleached or unbleached.  It was a Toba Garret Fudge cake recipe.  I wanted to try it…..  Thanks, Pat

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Posted: 22 August 2012 01:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Pat - 22 August 2012 05:48 AM

What if the leavening is baking soda?

  Depends on the recipe- if the baking soda is there to neutralize acids that would otherwise not taste as good, you need to keep the correct amount to neutralize that acid.  If the ingredient is liquid, you can mix the excess baking soda directly with the ingredient so that it reacts there instead of acting as excess leavening in the batter. 

Rose talks about the type of flour and the leavening being important with a sinking problem.  The most recent failure called for all purpose flour and didn’t specify bleached or unbleached.

Again, it depends on the recipe.  If the recipe is a sponge-type cake or an oil cake, then either will work though there will be a significant difference in tenderness (bleached will be more tender, unbleached more tough) due to the higher protein of unbleached flour.  If the cake uses softened butter, there may be an issue with sinking in the middle if you use unbleached flour.  You could try reading “The Power of Flour” (four parts) over on the blog for more on this.

Another thought- If baking a recipe designed for 2” pans in a 3” deep pan, it will often require more structure (less leavening) in order for the cake to hold itself up in a deeper layer, and be more prone to having dry edges or an underbaked center due to the extra time in the oven needed for heat to penetrate all the way to the middle of the batter.  Rose does not recommend making her butter cakes in a 3” pan.

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Posted: 22 August 2012 01:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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can I paste the recipe and a picture here?

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Posted: 22 August 2012 02:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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recipe:  ? 3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
? 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
? 3 cups sugar
? 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
? 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (NOT Dutch process)
? 2 teaspoons baking soda
? 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
? 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
? 3 large eggs
? 3/4 cup vegetable oil
? 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
? 3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300? F and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.
———————————

Picture of cake in 8 x 3 pan basically has this center puckered area that dips down.  Cake was dry on outside and wet on inside. I didn’t change the recipe but believe I baked at 325.  On the Epicurious website folks that reviewed it said they baked in 3/ 9 x 2 without a problem but some said it was dry.  Maybe from baking at 300 for the whole time…?? I made cupcakes from the recipe that were divine but the 8 x 3 failed….....

Also had similar failure with Toba Garret’s Fudge cake…calls for two 8 x 2” pans and I put in 1/4 sheet pan with bake even strips and two nails.  Didn’t alter the recipe or temp…just baking time.  Outside horribly dry even with the strips and center wet wet wet…... 

Toba Garett, Chocolate fudge cake
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (285 g) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (170 g) dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup (110 g) Dutch processed cocoa powder
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups (18 fl oz or 540 ml) buttermilk
1 cup (230 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 oz (168 g) melted semisweet fine quality chocolate


1. Heat oven to 350?F (175?C). Butter and parchment line two 8x2-inch (20x5-cm) baking pans.

2. Measure all ingredients (except the chocolate) into a large mixer bowl.

3. Blend for 30 seconds on LOW speed, scraping bowl constantly.

4. Blend in the melted chocolate and beat 3 minutes on HIGH speed, scraping the bowl.

5. Spoon into the pans and level them well with an offset spatula.

6. Bake layers for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.


What I really want to know about is if I should have altered the leavening and/or baking temp.  Thanks for your patience.  I am just a home baker and not really savvy on the chemistry of all this…...  Pat

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Posted: 22 August 2012 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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pans in the first recipe (Epicurious Double Chocolate)  were 2/ 10 x 2.  Also…in the Toba cake they say mix on high for a period of time.  This is new to me also.

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Posted: 22 August 2012 02:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The Epicurious cake looks interesting- it appears to be a non-traditional chiffon, different from a traditional in that the eggs are beaten whole instead of separated. Either type of flour should work, as it is both an oil cake and a sponge cake.  If a cake recipe just says AP flour, I always go for bleached. 

Just a few thoughts on things to check with this one:  did you leave the pan ungreased and cool in the pan?  Also, did you happen to take the internal temp in the middle of the cake when it was done?  Underbaking is frequently a cause of dipping in the center.  This should have made it to at least 190F.  The last thing to check is flour measurement- they don’t say how the flour is measured, so if you sifted before measuring, you may not have had enough flour.

Just re-reading your post- did you bake this cake (epicurious) in a 3” deep pan?  Or was it the other one?  And if this one, did you only fill it half full?  Too much batter in the pan can cause problems.

In short, I would use the correct pan size, then be sure to take the internal temp so that you know it’s baked enough.

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Posted: 22 August 2012 02:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Re: The Toba Garrett cake, it bears a loose resemblance to the Choc Fudge cake in the Cake Bible, except that it has a LOT more liquid and a LOT more leavening, so it is lacking structure on both counts.  I would venture a guess that the formula doesn’t have enough structure to be baked in your sheet pan.  It does look from reviews that this might be a tricky formula, one that requires the correct pan size, oven temp and weighing ingredients to make it work.  It does not appear to be a foolproof formula.  One reviewer mentioned that the cake only worked with cooler butter.

If it were me, I might not try again.  But if you do decide to make it again, stir some of the baking soda into the buttermilk before mixing the cake, and make it in a pan no larger than 8x2.  I don’t know how much, baking soda to put with the buttermilk, something like 10-25% might be a starting point.

Also, this is a butter cake, so use bleached flour only and take the internal temp so you can rule out underbaking as a cause of dipping.

Beating this cake batter on high- I wouldn’t expect that to cause dipping.

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Posted: 22 August 2012 05:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Didn’t know it was any type of chiffon.  If I baked it til the center was done the outside would have been even worse.  The outer part on both cakes was dry but centers wet.  I really think it’s a leavening issue…cake not supported enough.  Also not sure about how to adjust the temps…..  Maybe Rose would know?  Does she ever go on this site anymore?  I am sure she is uber busy….....  How would I cut the leavening back in either recipe and what temp change would you make to the 300 degrees for an hour?

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Posted: 23 August 2012 10:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Pat - 22 August 2012 08:51 PM

The outer part on both cakes was dry but centers wet.

To me, this doesn’t sound at all like a leavening issue, this sounds like the pan is too large, either by dimensions (sheet pan) or depth (3” deep pan).  Try a smaller pan.  My advice would be to try the recipes exactly as written, with the correct pan size and the correct oven temp, and to check the middle with an instant read thermometer (or at least a toothpick) to confirm that it is done before you take the cake out of the oven.  That will rule out underbaking and pan size as the causes of your problems.  If the problems still persist after correcting pan size and oven temp, then move on to reducing leavening.  Sorry I don’t seem to be giving you the solution that you wanted, but I call ‘em as I see ‘em.

Does she ever go on this site anymore?

  For the most part, Rose and Woody stick to the blog and let the forum take care of itself.  They are more able to help when the recipes being asked about are their own, which they have tested and developed themselves.

How would I cut the leavening back in either recipe and what temp change would you make to the 300 degrees for an hour?

For the fisrt cake, just reduce the baking powder by a small amount, perhaps 1/4 to 1/2 tsp.  That will strengthen structure but not do anything to change the problem of the sides being dry and overbaked before the center is done.  For the second cake (no baking powder), stir some of the baking soda (perhaps 1/4 tsp) into the buttermilk and allow it time to react there before mixing the cake.  That way, it will still neutralize the acid in the cake but not contribute to the leavening.

As for the oven temp, the standard advice is that lowering it will contribute to dipping in the center, while raising it will contribute to overbaked, dry edges.  You seem to have both problems, which is why I thought to try reducing pan size and using the temp called for in the recipe.

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