I just checked out a copy of The Cake Bible from the library, and I will be adding it to my collection with my next trip to the bookstore. I made the pineapple upside down cake for my husband’s birthday today, and I’m just floored by (and absolutely thrilled with!) the difference in the results. I was even happier to find Rose’s online home! The methods just make good sense to the science side of my brain. I’ll never tell my mother or Granny how I did it, though!
What’s the general procedure for converting other recipes to the two-stage mixing method? From what I’ve noticed in the book, you add the butter and about 1/4 of the other wet ingredient to the dry mix. Did I miss a general formula or method somewhere? Is there a case when things aren’t so proportional? How does this apply to other traditionally creamed goods like cookies?
I did try searching the blog and forum, so I apologize for any repetition in my question.
I’m not sure how it would work with cookies. In general, you want to combine all the dry ingredients (except cocoa powder ) first. (cocoa powder is best dissolved in boiling water).Typically a cake will have a liquid such as water, milk, butter milk, sourcream…1/4 of this liquid should be combined with the eggs and the vanilla. The remaining 3/4 of this liquid is added to the dry ingredients with the butter and beaten. Then the egg mixture is added in three steps and beaten after each addition. The procedure is the same in every butter cake in the cake bible. The only thing is that with the 2 stage method, you need slightly more baking powder/baking soda (I hope I’m right here….) because you don’t get the rise from air pockets formed when you cream butter with sugar. Good luck.
I actually have something to add here comparing creaming method vs. 2 stage method. I was still having a problem with some of my cupcake papers separating from the cake. I noticed that when I bake cakes with the two stage method there seems to be more shrinking on cooling than with cakes made with the creaming method (Rose, if you see this, please, please, please correct me if I’m wrong). The last time I baked cupcakes I used Rose’s Chocolate Fudge Cake recipe (MY favorite chocolate cake). I converted the recipe to the creaming method…just to see what would happen. Result: no separation of cup cake from papers! The cake doesn’t have the wonderful texture that you get with the two stage method…but the taste was almost the same, and no naked cupcakes on the cooling rack.
Rose, any comment on this? The taste and texture is definitely superior, in my humble opinion, with the two stage method…but with the creaming method, my papers stayed put. I didn’t do a scientific study, and this may be just a fluke…but that’s how this one time go-round ended up.
The other thing I’ve heard about the “reverse creaming,” “two stage” or “high ratio” method is that it works best for recipes where the weight of the sugar is equal to or greater than the weight of the flour. I have no idea why that is.
Barbara, you were wondering why it’s recommended that the weight of the sugar exceed the weight of the flour for high-ratio method cakes. Looked through my books and think I might have found an answer.
First, the blending aka two-stage method is indeed used for high ratio cakes (those with high ratios of sugar and water). But not all blended cakes are, by definition, high ratio. Many are not. The ingredient balancing rule you mention (and a couple more) apply to high ratio cakes, but not to all cakes made with the two-stage method. The reason those rules apply for high ratio cakes is rooted in the interaction of other ingredients with emulsified shortening.
Procter & Gamble first added emulsifiers to shortening in the 1930s. Cakes made with the new shortening held a higher ratio of water to flour, because emulsifiers are very effective at holding oil and water together. And since the batters held more water, they also held more sugar, which dissolves in water. The higher ratio of water and sugar increased moistness, tenderness and shelf life well beyond what the emulsifier by itself could produce. This also affected costs since water and sugar were among the least expensive ingredients. For all of those reasons, the high ratio cake came to dominate the baking industry. That is, until recently when more became known about trans-fats.
As one of my books said, the high ratio cake bent most cake balancing rules almost beyond recognition. Me? I think I’ll stick with butter. I agree with Rose that at the correct temperature, 100% butter yields perfect texture in addition to superior flavor! You get what you pay for, imo, and I’m so glad we now know that butter is better in more ways than one!
By the way, I was tickled to discover in Paula Figoni’s How Baking Works why this is called the two-stage method! Refers to the liquids being added in two stages (eggs in the second stage). I always thought of it as a three-stage method, with dry ingredients + fat being the first stage. Glad you got me curious! Thanks.
The reason I tried the creaming method is that I noticed that Rose’s cakes, which have that beautiful texture (due to the 2 stage method) seem to shrink more than other butter cakes made with the creaming method (I was noticing this on layer cakes). Self said I, perhaps the reason that rose’s butter cakes, when baked in cup cake liners, are separating from the papers, is because the cake is shrinking out of the liner. I never remember this happening when my Mom baked cupcakes when I was a kid….and I thought, what was the major difference. The difference was the medthod of assembling and combining the ingredients for the batter. So…I gave it a whirl.
Bill, I haven’t experienced the liners separating from my cupcakes made with Rose’s two-stage recipes. Mind you, I haven’t made many cupcakes—certainly not as many as you—so that could be a fluke.
I double-checked Rose’s instructions on cupcakes, page 164 TCB, to remind myself of the process I used. She recommends a touch more than half the baking powder, when making half the recipes. Maybe that doesn’t apply? From the sound of things, you didn’t limit yourself to half-recipes.
What about the baking time? It’s as crucial with cupcakes as it is with Rose’s smaller layer cakes to take them out of the oven when done but well before they’ve started to shrink. Did you experiment with shorter baking times? It’s been awhile but I think mine were shorter than Rose’s suggested 20 to 25 minutes. Maybe around 17?
Sorry if I’m covering ground already discussed in another thread. Just some thoughts.
I have tried shorter baking times…same thing happened….but not all the time. I don’t think we are ever going to get the the bottom of this for sure. I’m fairly sure that Nushra (spelling?) has had the most cupcake experience on the site…and I don’t think that she’s had trouble. I do know that the smaller the cake, the more baking powder you should use…that’s why the baking powder is slightly increased. I do know that when I take the cup cakes out of the oven…there is no shirkage at all…but shortly after I take them out I see the shrinkage like starting between the paper and the side of the pan….so I’m fairly certain I’m getting them out in time.
Oh…and also…and this may have something to do with it…perhaps its my cupcake tins…but I find that I get many more cupcakes than Rose says that you get for a 1/2 recipe. I usually use 40 - 43 grams of batter per cupcake…Yes I am seriously deranged when it comes to this…and they bake up right to the top of the paper…so perhaps Rose is talking about a larger cupcake tin when she gives the number of cupcakes per batch of batter.
I think you’re on to something there, Bill! The size of a pan matters…a LOT. I found that out the hard way, when I spent the better part of a year trying to master a pumpernickel bread recipe from Jeffrey Hamelman’s book Bread: A baker’s book of techniques and recipes.
Turned out his “Pullman pan” was really a pain de mie pan with lid, i.e. 13"x4"x4”, a fact I discovered in a side note buried on another page in reference to another recipe. And my Pullman was the more traditional (I think?) 16” long. I was vastly over-proofing the dough, trying to get it close to the top of my bigger pan as the recipe suggested. The 4 lb. loaves almost always collapsed into tasty but very dense door stops!
Live and learn. Here’s to continuing adventures in the kitchen! Best of luck with your cupcakes.
p.s. added by Edit later
Hey Bill, I just did a volume measurement check with water in my professional muffin/cupcake pan versus the one I had for years for larger size muffins (Wearever aluminum). The professional pan actually has the words Extra Deep Cups stamped on the top. It holds 90 grams of water per cup as compared with 80 grams in the home baker large size muffin pan cups. That is, when I pour the water in right to the top. Hope this helps.
I’ve finally joined after months and months of reading this blog, and after ten years of baking with Rose’s Bibles! They’ve been an incredible resource, books I turn to again and again for information, or out of curiosity, and certainly for the heavenly flavor/texture each of the recipes produces.
I’d planned on joining tonight so I could ask about cupcakes. I’ve been so frustrated lately about how my cupcakes are coming out—so it was nice to hop on here tonight and see it already being discussed!! I should have expected such a timely discussion already happening here!!
I’ve been making a lot of cupcakes lately and I too find that the cupcakes come out of the oven looking beautifully, only to cool and shrivel up and often peel away from the paper. Argh…but they still taste so divine…far better than other recipes I keep looking at or trying.
It sounds like the things to try are using the creaming method and increasing the baking powder? Anything else?!
Thanks for being such an amazing group of bakers on this blog!
The only time i’ve found that my cupcakes “shrivel up” is when there is too much liquid in the batter. Not all cake recipes are necessarily best for cupcakes I’ve found.
liv hansen has separate recipes for cupcakes in her book “whimsical bakehouse cookbook. ” This is the one I use. If you are using a rose recipe try decreasing the liquid just a touch and see what happens.
Since my 1500 cupcake order in May, I can safely say that I’ve made thousands of cupcakes and this has been my experience.
I like cupcakes that are nicely peaked and ever so slightly spread out over the rim of the paper liner, maybe just barely overflowing onto the pan. I find this full size and slightly spread, rounded top the most attractive when frosted (usually a swirl made with a large tip).
Because of this preference, I fill them around 7/8 full and leave the baking powder as is. The increased amount of baking powder Rose mentions at the start of the showcase cake section will result in a more level top.
And I have never had an issue with cupcakes pulling away from the paper liner, I think this is because the batter rises up and over the rim of the liner, allowing it to “grab on”.