Chocolate butter cake problem. PLEASE HELP!!!
Posted: 06 March 2013 04:44 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hello All!

I am fairly new to the cake world. I have a lot of knowledge but little experience.

I bake a lot but I’ve only made one other wedding cake. I used a recipe I found for altering boxed mix to be the right texture. It turned out pretty good for my first cake. So, now I have been asked to make my friends wedding cake. I’m planning on making the usual 12”, 9”, 6” tiers.
She asked for chocolate cake with vanilla filling and fondant finish. I would like to do a custard filling but I’m not confident enough in my skill having never made a custard or Bavarian Cream and the pre made stuff they sell in the store seems pretty thin and I don’t want to risk having an unstable cake, so I’m planning on making a vanilla bean Neoclassic butter cream for the filling.
The first time I tried making the NBC it didn’t come out right because I didn’t heat the sugar/syrup to the right temperature. The second batch came out much better smile

I thought I’d give you guys a little background info, but anyway, down to my issue!

I tired the chocolate butter cake recipe (from The Cake Bible) as a test batch. I believe I calculated everything correctly for two 6” rounds worth of batter. I weighed the ingredients but some of the ingredients didn’t have the correct weight to volume ratio based on what the book says. For example, according to the book I should multiply the base recipes 3 tbsp. + 1 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder by 2 (for a 6” cake) which gives me 6tbsp. and 3 tsp. The book says this should equal 1.5 ounces or 42 grams but my scale said it was more like 66 grams. The cake flour also seemed to be off but other things like the eggs were dead on at 50 grams each.
Once mixed the texture seemed to be good.. but if I let it sit for too long without stirring, it looked like it was just beginning to curdle?

So when I baked the cakes I put bake even strips around the pans (should I use those on such a small size pan?) and the batter filled them both just about 1/2 full. They both seemed to be doing fine… until about 2/3 of the way through baking, one of them split open just above the top of the pan and batter started pouring out over the side while the other one still looked good. I checked it about about 3-4 mins later and the second one had caved in on itself :(
What am I doing wrong?

The wedding is next Saturday (the 16th) and I need to get this recipe down. PLEASE HELP!!

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Posted: 06 March 2013 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Excellent! Thank you everyone for the responses. I will be trying a new batch today and I’ll make sure to measure everything I can and I’ll let you know how it turns out. I do have some calibrating weights so I can make sure my scale is working properly. And to answer your question CharlesT, I do not have an internal thermometer for my oven, but from my experience it runs a little hot so I usually cook things for the lowest recommended time and continue from there if its not quite done. Aside from buying a thermometer (which I will probably end up doing) is there another way I can be more accurate with temp and cooking time?


I’m using Ghirardelli dutch processed cocoa powder so I will have to look into the weight differences as Sherrie mentioned.


Thank you prettycake for the decorating inquiry.. that actually brings me to my next question…

I will be using MMF to cover the cake. I hear you should never refrigerate a fondant covered cake because the moisture inside after removing it form the fridge could cause the cake to fall apart. BUT the NBC I will be using to fill the layers says it should only sit at room temp for about 6 hours…
I’m planning on making the cakes the night before and covering them the day of the wedding. The ceremony is at 5:30 pm, if I cover the cakes in the morning will they be okay by the time it’s served? and will the butter cream filling hold up?

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Posted: 06 March 2013 04:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Also, I’m using the whisk attachment for my stand mixer. Could this possibly be making a difference in consistency? Should I be using the batter attachment or is the whisk okay?

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Posted: 06 March 2013 09:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Let me just say.. thank you for all your help everyone!

Well, Renee, it doesn’t really even have to sit… Let me be a little more specific.

I weighed everything correctly this time and used the paddle attachment instead of the whisk. I made sure that the chocolate and water mixture cooled to room temperature this time. This mix looked good. Consistency seemed right… but when I add the egg/chocolate/vanilla mix it starts to look like its separating. I followed the book to a T and added it in 3 parts mixing 20 seconds between. By the time the last of the eggs are added the mixture looks odd and the consistency is slightly curdled/separated (not sure how else to describe it). When I say “let it sit” I’m referring to the 20-30 seconds it takes me to grab the pans and start pouring… but even before I’m done mixing.. the batter is off.

I’m pretty sure the butter was the right temp so I’m not sure if that could be the problem.

So I wrapped the Bake Easy strips around the pans just till they met so there wasn’t much of an overlap and I filled them just under 1/2 full. They baked up better this time even though the batter was funny. The only thing I noticed was that the sides and bottom were very moist and crumbly… is this because I didn’t bake it long enough?
In case you’re wondering, I used the method Rose recommends of greasing the pan then adding parchment to the bottom and greasing and flouring over that. I dropped the oven temp to 340 F just to be sure (my oven runs a little hot) and baked it for about 35 mins… would bumping up the cooking time to more like 40-45 mins seal the bottom and edges better?

This may be a stupid question.. but would it be possible to pop these layers back into the pan and bake them a little longer or would that just lead to a disaster?

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Posted: 06 March 2013 10:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I will be making another batch to try baking without the strips so I will be able to post a picture of the batter then.
In the meantime I have a few pictures of the finished cakes for you to take a look at. I added a pic of the pan too so you can see how the corners stuck.


http://i1095.photobucket.com/albums/i473/SubatomicGraphics/1.jpg
http://i1095.photobucket.com/albums/i473/SubatomicGraphics/2.jpg
http://i1095.photobucket.com/albums/i473/SubatomicGraphics/3.jpg

Thanks for the response PrettyCake. I’m a little worried about the sweating but I have plenty of extra MMF so I’m going to give it a shot with the spare test cake.

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Posted: 07 March 2013 12:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Here are some pictures of the batter. Is this how it is supposed to look?

http://i1095.photobucket.com/albums/i473/SubatomicGraphics/4.jpg
http://i1095.photobucket.com/albums/i473/SubatomicGraphics/6.jpg
http://i1095.photobucket.com/albums/i473/SubatomicGraphics/5.jpg

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Posted: 07 March 2013 12:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Will be following this thread as this is a problem i too have faced!! I dont have as much coming off the sides or top but at the bottom, unlikes some chunks i can see the bottom crust is literally stuck to the pan!!! LIKE a fine soft moss on the parchment which also is stuck to the pan !
Also i recently made the chocolate butter cake and my batter looked exactly the same , at that time i just plowed on , but looking at yours the thing that popped to my head was ” is it too much fat ? ” I use lurpak butter which is 82 percent solids. What abt you? and what abt everyone else? I also use valrhona cocoa powder just in case anyone is wondering , not sure how much cocoa butter in there…hmmm i hope the experts chime in and help =)

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Posted: 07 March 2013 01:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I’m using Darigold brand butter. I have no idea what percent solids it contains. I just know the package says grade AA.

There is a thread on here that discusses the issue with measuring cocoa powder:
http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/index_ee.php/forums/viewthread/2751/

I believe it says that the brand you’re using has 20% or more cocoa butter. They don’t mention the brand I’m using, Ghirardelli.

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Posted: 07 March 2013 03:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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The texture seems to be good smile

The very first batch, only one of them cooked most of the way through so I could sample it. I made two more batches and they both had the same batter texture but they baked through. They’re spongy yet firm. The flavor seems right too.  So I’m assuming either, that’s how the batter should look or its a minor enough flaw that it means little in the overall outcome.

As for the Neoclassic butter cream filling/fondant combo, I’m doing a test with both cakes. One I filled and covered and left on the counter loosely covered with plastic wrap, and the other I put in the fridge. I’m going to see how they hold up.

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Posted: 07 March 2013 05:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Julie - 07 March 2013 01:00 PM

Your cakes look flat and sound like the texture and taste were good- congratulations!

Also, just to check, did you use shortening to grease your pans? Either that or clarified butter, regular butter will allow the cakes to stick more than clarified or shortening.

re: batter that looks curdled, this is a temperature thing, but doesn’t usually produce serious flaws in the cake.  I don’t have my RHC book to look it up, but there is an ideal temp for the butter, eggs, water etc. (68F? 70F?)  If you let everything sit out longer- eggs, cooling cocoa mixture, butter, that might solve your curdling problem. 

Good luck!  You’re a good friend to be undertaking such a large project.

Thanks for the great info. I will need to get an instant read thermometer, they seem to really come in handy!
To answer your question, I am using shortening but it’s an animal fat mixture (I’m just trying to use it up before I buy more :/) but I imagine I should probably be using a vegetable based shortening?

I made sure the chocolate was completely cooled without putting it in the fridge. I prepared my pans while it sat, as you mentioned. I’m thinking perhaps the eggs are too cold? I haven’t been letting them sit as long as the butter… should the eggs be room temp too?

Anne in NC - 07 March 2013 01:59 PM

Hi!

Sometimes I’ll even let the parchment (or waxed paper—I use that more often) cover the corners, as well, and that helps.  I assume you’re letting the cake rest on an elevated (for circulation beneath the cake) cooling rack?

—ak

I was wondering if I should cut the parchment so it covered the corners and not just the bottom. I’ll have to give that a shot. And yes I am cooling them on an elevated rack, so to speak. It sits about an inch off the counter.

Gene - 07 March 2013 04:54 PM

I have used this recipe a number of times but it has been a few years. I don’t have any notes or memory of unusual behavior. Sometimes modern eggs have undersized yolks which might account for some of the mottling in the batter.

That’s a good one! How can I be sure I have the right amount of yolk?


And thanks for the tip CharlesT. I have used Baker’s Joy before and it worked well for me. I just might have to switch to that in stead of the old grease and flour method. Do you still line the bottom with parchment/waxed paper? Or is that spray good enough on it’s own?

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Posted: 08 March 2013 07:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Excellent!! Thanks for the tips about the eggs.
I will let everything get to room temp and I’ll be sure to separate my yolks before weighing. Hopefully with my new wealth of knowledge the batter will come out right next time smile

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