Cakes do not brown at the bottom and sides, but test done with a tootpick in the centre
Posted: 13 June 2013 03:04 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I am fairly new to baking, but I have taken to it with a lot of passion after reading The Cake Bible. In the begining I used to bake in my microwave using the convection setting and my cake tops would just not cook!
Recently I have invested in a new counter top Oven with both conventional and convection settings. The first 2 cakes that i made turned out good enough but their tops did not brown very well / at all but the sides were nice and brown and the cake was cooked very well.
I have a fairly new problem at hand these days. I am trying to bake an All Occassion Downy Yellow Butter from TCB. It has been very hard to find a 9” x 2” pan these days. Oops, forgot to mention I live in India.
So, I decided to bake the cake in 8” X 2” pan. I calculated the recipe ingredients using the Base Formula for Yellow butter cakes and multiplied it by 3.5 (Rose Factor for 8” cakes).
Since 8” cakes fall in the Level 1 category, I multiplied the baking powder by 3.5. My problem here is that the bottom and sides of the cake dont even brown a spec, where as the top does brown. My cake was tested done after 42 mins. It also did spring back on the top.
The cake did rise beautifully to 2” and had no domed or sunken center
Here is what I did
1)Pre heated the oven for 20 mins at 180 degree celcius
2)Buttered the and floured the cake pan.
3) Calculated the ingredients as per the formula and “weighed” them using an electronic weighing scale
4) The butter was at 23.9 degrees C
5) Whisked the dry ingredients with a wire whisk for 1 min
6) Added the butter and 3/4th milk and mixed it with a hand held mixer for 1.5 mins on high power
7) Mixed Egg yolks, vanilla and 1/4th milk and mixed it lightly
8) Added this mixture to the batter in 3 batches, every time mixing it for 20 seconds.

Filled the cake pan with the batter and tapped it thrice on the counter top to remove any air pockets.
The batter filled up 3/4th of an inch. The cake rose beautifully to fill up the pan.
After 30 mins I rotated the cake in the oven (without lifting the pan).
After 35 mins in the oven, the cake did shrink marginally (few millimeters)
After 42 mins the cake tested done with a toothpick.
By that time the cake had shrunk from the side a little and there was NO BROWNING at all.
I let it cool in the pan for 10 mins and then inverted it on a cooling rack.
Surprise surprise, the cake bottom and sides were as white as the batter!!! And the sides were all crumbly!
The after being tasted does seems to be cooked but when i pressed a liitle cooked cake between my thumb and index finger, it was all gummy!

I am in total distress and this is an SOS call! What is going wrong?
Last 4 of my cakes have seen this tragic end1 I have tried everything.

Initially I thought my oven was not calibrated properly, so I increased the baking temperature form 350 degrees to 375,
but then it had huge tunnels and was still white at the bottom and sides!
I switched from convection to conventional mode still no respite. I also changed the position of my racks from middle to lower third!

Please suggest.
Cannot attach a picture as the size exceeds the permissible limit downer (

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Posted: 13 June 2013 03:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Overall, it sounds like your batter was too acidic. Not sure how that could have occurred. You’re not using buttermilk, are you? And I don’t suppose you’re making your own baking powder by using Cream of Tartar?

Also, you didn’t really need to use the Rose Factor; you could have used the same recipe as for the 9 inch pans without any adjustment to the baking powder. My copy of the Cake Bible is in the attic, so someone else will have to verify the BP quantities.

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Posted: 13 June 2013 03:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I did not use any butter milk, just the normal full fat milk. Also I am using store bought baking powder! One more thing that I forgot to mention here, Cake flour is really not available in India, so I substitute it with bleached all purpose flour and add corn starch to it (100 gms APP added 30 gms Corn starch to it). It is the monsoon season here in India, so the humidity is always 70% plus. Could that have caused the problem? I have beens using the same set of ingredients and the first 2 cakes turned out alright and the next batch is going from bad to worse.

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Posted: 13 June 2013 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The all purpose flour seems to have aged a little bit…....ca that also be an issue?

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Posted: 13 June 2013 03:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Hi shruti,

What kind of pans are you using for baking?  I experience a huge amount of browning on the bottom of baked goods when I use some darker pans, and less so when I use lighter aluminum pans—generally, though for cakes I prefer the aluminum pans as they don’t overbake the sides of the cake before the inside sets.  That, however, does not entirely explain the lack of browning on the top.  From what I can tell, your calculation for the baking powder is correct (1.5 tsp x 3.5).  Do you know the ingredients in the baking powder/brand of powder?  That may give some insight into acidity of your batter. 

Where are the heating elements in your oven?  I know, for instance, when I bake pizza on the grill—since there is no top “flame” there is no browning of the cheese.  If your counter oven doesn’t have a top element or a poorly placed one that may be the culprit.

Lastly, it may be due to high humidity…on the blog another baker reported poor browning of buns when he moved to a more humid climate.  I don’t know all the details of his situation so I can’t speak to it, but perhaps you are not alone with this problem.  Maybe people don’t like to bake in hot, humid conditions smile

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Posted: 13 June 2013 03:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Since the first cakes you made came out fine, I would say it is either the recipe or something in your batter w/c is most likely one of your ingredients. I don’t think it is your oven or pan. What was the recipe or type of cake you made that came out fine ? Just because you have a smaller pan by an inch, you do not have to change the measurements of your ingredients. Just adjust the amount of batter you put in the 8 inch if you are not using the 9 inch that the recipe calls. Too bad you cannot post a photo. And esp that they came out gummy, then it is definitely the recipe. Do you have an even thermometer ? Good luck

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Posted: 13 June 2013 03:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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SHRUTI:
  Good afternoon. I am sorry to learn you are having a baking disappointment. I do not know if I can help you or not. I will take one shot at your problem.

It is this…...Not always but most often especially in countries in & around where your located the typical baking failures lie due to the “SUGAR”  This has been my experience in the past.

  SHRUTI, take notice of the sugar is it the same size as the crystals that you have found them to be in America…are they larger?????

  If so post back to me & I will provide you with a fix for your baking disapointment.

One more thing Shruti, you say you creamed the butter in when it was at 23.9 C in #4 of your original posting. That equates to approx I think of 40/45 degrees F. 65/67 Degrees is what is considered optimum. It may have not caused your problem but you should know about how to bake the best product that you can in the future.

If you have further concerns post them & we will try to help you.

Good luck & enjoy the rest of the day.

  ~FRESHKID.

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Posted: 13 June 2013 05:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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~FRESHKID - 13 June 2013 06:50 PM

One more thing Shruti, you say you creamed the butter in when it was at 23.9 C in #4 of your original posting. That equates to approx I think of 40/45 degrees F. 65/67 Degrees is what is considered optimum. It may have not caused your problem but you should know about how to bake the best product that you can in the future.


Actually, it’s about 75 degrees F. Too warm by far.

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Posted: 13 June 2013 05:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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It would be an interesting experiment to replace 1 teaspoon of baking powder with 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda.

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Posted: 13 June 2013 07:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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The gumminess is most likely due to flour differences.  It is well known that flours outside of North America can be problematic for bakers, though I understand it typically produces coarser, gummier cakes.  There is a post on Kate flour on the blog that provides direction for heat treating your flour if it is not bleached.  Although, I’ve never heard of it causing cakes that do not brown.  I hope I didn’t misread your post, but perhaps I may have.  So the first cakes weren’t made with AOYBDC but a different recipe and had browned sides/bottoms but not tops.  The new ones (with AOYBDC) have browned tops but not sides. 

Also, 42 mins to bake an 8” cake is a long time.  Do you have an oven thermometer? 

Freshkid may be on to something with the sugar, for instance, as honey is known to brown more than regular sugar in baked goods.  How did the original recipe compare to AOYBDC?  Was it locally developed?

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Posted: 14 June 2013 02:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Thanks a ton for all your replies and suggestions.
To start with, I do not use dark pans, I use aluminum pans only.
The sugar that I purchased had crystals marginally larger than the Super fine sugar you get in America, so i pulsed them in a food processor before using.
The previous cakes that came out well were all AODYBC.

But I did figure out what was wrong! It was the flour, flour, flour! The APF (bleached) was it seems too aged. Last night I made the same cake using a new packet of APF and it turned out well.
I used the recipe of AODYBC for a 9” X 1.5” pan (divided by 2 as i was using a single pan) and make the cake in an 8” pan.
This recipe did not fill up the pan sufficiently hence the cake had a domed center (that’s what i think). But the crumb was good and it browned well on the bottom and on the sides!
The problem that still persists is the top of the cake! The top did change color but did not brown as much! Also, it was a bit sticky and shiny!
Is this because of the excess humidity (75% +) or that the pan was not sufficiently filled with batter?

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Posted: 14 June 2013 02:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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shruti - 14 June 2013 05:36 AM

Last night I made the same cake using a new packet of APF and it turned out well.

Interesting. According to this site,

http://chestofbooks.com/food/science/Experimental-Cookery/Effect-Of-Aging-On-Flour.html#.UbqsFdi1-So


flour gets more acidic with age, so maybe that’s why it had the effect that it did.

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Posted: 14 June 2013 01:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Interesting, indeed!  Glad you solved the problem!

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Posted: 16 June 2013 12:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Hi Shruti, welcome!
Glad to hear you solved the problem.
I just wanted to add that as far as I know, the equivalent of cake flour in India is maida- have you ever tried baking with it?

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McBrownie.

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