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Syruping and Freezing Butter Cakes, and dealing with crusts - How to?
Posted: 13 October 2008 04:53 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hello Cake Bible/Rose Fans, and Rose!

I am new to cake baking. I caught the bug after seeing a beautiful wedding cake a few months ago. It was stunning and delicious. I have pretty much spend the last month reading the cake bible like it is a sacred text, which it is so some bakers, including me! I’ve also spent the last month assembling supplies such as cake boards, cake carrier, cake flour, baker’s sugar, ateco frosting tips and bags, food scale, candy thermometer, cooling racks, cake tins, mixer, various chocolates, stretch-tite, food coloring, etc. This is not a cheap hobby but it is so fulfilling! I bought as many things as I could second hand.

I am baking my niece’s 11th Birthday cake. It will be a white butter cake, 9 by 13 inch, two layers, silk meringue buttercream frosting and the middle frosting layer will have Rose’s strawberry puree added to the frosting.  I need to bake the cake and make the frosting ahead of time because I won’t have that much time the day of the party, which is in 6 days (this Saturday). My plan is to bake/syrup/freeze the cakes, complete frosting the day before, and decorate the cake the morning of the party. The Creme Anglaise is done and sitting in the fridge, I’ll finish it on Thursday or Friday. In the meanwhile I have to practice piping using practice frosting. I plan on making some kind of a Hello Kitty/Ballerina motif. Hey, she’s 11 and these are two of her favorite things!

I baked the cakes tonight (Sunday) using the white base cake recipe, appropriate Rose factor, aluminum 9x13 cake pans and magicake strips. All of the ingredients were at room temperature, and the cakes turned out wonderfully. I was thrilled and relieved! The house smelled like heaven!

However, as they were cooling, I noticed that the top edges of the cakes had hard crusts on them, and I also wasn’t sure if it was OK to syrup the cakes before freezing them, if it were better to syrup the day you assemble the cake and after thawing. I did syrup both sides of the cakes before freezing them, but using Rose’s formula of 3 cups of Syrup for every 6 1/2 cups of sugar used to bake the cake batter seemed like a LOT of syrup per cake. It was almost a full cup of syrup per side of the cake. As I was putting on the syrup with a condiment squeeze bottle, it just looked like a lot to me, so I cut it down to 1/2 a cup of syrup per one of the 9x13 side of cake. I have some questions…

1) Is it OK to leave those edge crusts on the cake or do most people take them off? (I sawed them off with a serrated knife after the cakes were completely cooled, and then ate the crusts. They were great!)

2) Are you supposed to take off the top crust of the cake all together? (I left it on, it looks just lovely, but I may take it off after thawing and before frosting)

2) How long does the sugar syrup sit on one side of the cake before you flip it over and syrup the other side?

3) Is it OK to wrap the cakes and put them in the freezer immediately after syruping? (I let the cakes sit out. Approx 40 mins on one side, and then flipped it over for the other, in hopes of getting even syrup penetration. Then I wrapped them like a maniac and put them in the freezer. I will be sooo sad if the cake is soggy.)

4) Has anyone out there used Rose’s suggested amount of syrup on a white butter cake and frozen the cake? How did you like the result?

Baking the cakes, cooling them, preparing and cooling the syrup, and making the creme anglaise took 1/2 the day. But it was fun!

Thank you for the help in advance. I will post a picture of the finished product. You KNOW I’m going to take a picture of this and every cake I make.

Thanks everyone!
Elma

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Posted: 13 October 2008 12:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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welcome to the forum.

i don’t syrup my cakes, so you’ll get that info from someone else.

as for freezing, i wouldn’t trim any part of the cake before freezing.
anything you can do to protect the moisture of the cake will benefit in the long run

some bakers always trim the tops of their cakes, but if i don’t unless there is a real problem with the top.

sometimes with a real butter cake you will get crispy edges. as long as the cake isn’t over cooked, don’t worry about it.

jen

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Posted: 13 October 2008 09:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Elma, welcome! 

I have never syruped a butter cake, but I can tell you that the exact same thing runs through my head when syruping a sponge-type cake, that it seems like a lot of syrup.  But I’ve never had a soggy cake following Rose’s directions, although I have ended up with a dry cake by cutting back on what she specifies (lesson learned). 

As for how long to let the syruped layer sit, I only do a few minutes, provided I am syruping both sides of a layer.  If I’m syruping something thicker, I’ll wait longer, maybe ten minutes before turning it over to do the other side.  Allowing the completed cake to sit for a while helps moisture distribution.

As for the crusts, I wouldn’t worry about them unless you object to the way they look.  Once you have the whole thing assembled, the moisture will travel throughout the cake and sort of equalize, so the crusts probably won’t be crispy once the cake is sealed (with either plastic wrap or frosting) and sits a bit.  Some people don’t like the darker band at the crust when the cake is sliced, or sometimes the cake needs to be leveled, but many people leave butter cake crust as is, they’re easier to frost (fewer crumbs).  As jen said, don’t trim before freezing, it’ll just speed moisture loss.

Looking forward to the photos!

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Posted: 15 October 2008 02:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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elma, it is great to follow your project!  photo photo photo!

side and top/bottom crusts on butter cakes either way is ok, to leave or remove.

syrup amount is correct, rose likes her cakes very moist, also depends how dry/long you baked the cake.  I always syrup, have tried the white, yellow, chocolate, and white chocolate bases.

ok to freeze a butter cake with or w/o crusts.  you can freeze the filled and frosted cake, too.

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Posted: 17 October 2008 11:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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hectorwong - 15 October 2008 05:25 PM

syrup amount is correct, rose likes her cakes very moist, also depends how dry/long you baked the cake.  I always syrup, have tried the white, yellow, chocolate, and white chocolate bases.

Hector, did you syrup the white chocolate Blueberry swan cake?  Also, is there a trick to adding the chocolate to the batter?
I get a lot of white chocolate that clings to the paddle and/or spatula.

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Posted: 17 October 2008 04:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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tbarley2007, I had to go back to page 50 of TCB and re-read it.  White chocolate is one of those ingredients that is very temperature sensitive and can seize or change its consistency/thickening when heated innapropietally.  I would say, your ingredients were not at room temperature (eggs, milk, butter).  If they are too cold, the white chocolate will solidify and stick to the paddle or mixer bowl.  Another possibity is that you melted your white chocolate too long or that it got in contact with water during the melting, which will cause the chocolate to loose fluidity and seize into lumps.  Also, be sure to use a high quality white chocolate (almost certainly never found at regular grocery stores); a white chocolate with cacao butter is the one to use.  The common candy white chocolate doesn’t contain sufficient or zero cacao butter thus it won’t become as fluid and as delicious.

Yes, I added syrup to the White Chocolate Whisper Cake, both for Elaine’s Blueberry Swan Cake, and for Emily’s Blueberry Swan-less cake!  It made the texture of the cake even more silky.  But I do so because I bake on commercial convection oven which makes my cakes more dry, and I also froze the cakes.  I will still add even if not, but just less syrup.  Here a picture of a slice of Emily’s.  Hope this helps. /H

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Posted: 17 October 2008 05:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Thanks Hector. I’ll make sure I syrup all my cakes from now on.  (except the chocolate domingo… it’s already very moist)

I’m using Lindt white chocolate. 
Not all of it sticks to the paddle but I know how precise Rose’s ingredients are and I didn’t want to throw the recipe off.  I’ll try to make sure the chocolate and batter are at the exact same temperature before combining them next time (a trick within itself!) 

Do I add all the white chocolate at once then turn on the mixer?  (sorry, I’m not a natural cook…I have no clue)

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Posted: 17 October 2008 07:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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love your avatar cake btw.  Nice smooth fondant.  My goal is to do the same with Mousseline buttercream, and I think I will!

some lindt don’t have cacao butter, please be sure to read the ingredients on the package and check that it is one of the first ingredients listed.

i may have confused you, the batter needs to be on the warm side, room temperature at least.  I can’t remember exactly what temperature, but if under then the chocolate will harden thus sticking first on a cold metal surface (on your paddle)

hope this helps.

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Posted: 18 October 2008 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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hectorwong - 17 October 2008 10:26 PM

love your avatar cake btw.  Nice smooth fondant.  My goal is to do the same with Mousseline buttercream, and I think I will!

some lindt don’t have cacao butter, please be sure to read the ingredients on the package and check that it is one of the first ingredients listed.

i may have confused you, the batter needs to be on the warm side, room temperature at least.  I can’t remember exactly what temperature, but if under then the chocolate will harden thus sticking first on a cold metal surface (on your paddle)

hope this helps.

.

Thank you for the compliment.  It was the 2nd or 3rd cake I made with fondant.  Personally, I prefer Mousseline buttercream.  All of your cakes look very smooth. I don’t know how you do it.

I checked the ingredients on my white chocolate.  Cocoa butter was listed second (sugar was first)

I believe my cake batter was 70-75 degree and my white chocolate may have been 85 or 90… I can’t remember.  I will be making another white chocolate cake in a week or two and I will try to document everything.  Thanks again.

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Posted: 18 October 2008 05:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I don’t know how I do it neither =)

I would say, a heavy non-wiggling non-skipping turntable, an angled icing spatula, and lots of practice and the best fluid smooth buttercream one can be ‘the mousseline.’  I think it is important you always use the same turntable, the same icing spatula, and the same frosting, that way you really get used to it, to its weight, its shape, its speed, etc.  I always travel with these on me!

I tell you one concept:  always remember that by trying to smooth or fix one side of your cake you risk damaging a side that is already perfect.  As you spin the turntable, this is unavoidable; you always have your spatula go over a perfect side after going over a non perfect side.  I hope this makes sense as I find this very crucial.  I rely on the spindling to make things smooth, you can’t stop spindling to avoid touching a perfect area because it leaves a mark.  THEREFORE, it is impossible to get the entire cake very smooth, so my final goal is actually a cake with large parts been smooth.  Decorations go over the parts that are not smooth.  Really, I design my decorations around the non-smooth part.

The cake always has a nice side and a less perfect side.

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Posted: 19 October 2008 08:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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We use a bench scraper instead of a spatula to smooth the final finish, spinning the cake on the turntable as Hector describes; I have also use a tall, relatively firm paint protector “thing” (a suggestion from a friend who’s been doing this for 25 years.  She’s right, it works like a charm, but you have to have the right kind.  Too thin and it doesn’t work at all.  I had to buy a few different kinds of these to find the one that works best for me.  It’s taller than the cake so it works really well!

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Posted: 19 October 2008 04:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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that is probably why I am so slow smoothing the cake, but I ONLY use my angled icing spatula!

I guess it is my silly fun to shape ‘by hand’ rather than ‘with a mold.’  It gives a little bit of texture and life, like comparing a hand turned vase with a machine molded one.

One more reason I have not become a commercial baker.

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Posted: 19 October 2008 04:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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If you want to have the mousseline look more like fondant, the bench scraper will really help, but it’s only 4” tall.  That’s where the paint masker thing comes in handy, because it is almost 12” tall!

Another friend who is a pastry chef at a high end hotel here can get the most incredibly smooth, absolutely perfect finish with her buttercream.  You would think you were looking at fondant if you saw the sides of her cakes.  They are flawless - no bubbles, no nothing.  But ... she uses a bit of fluid flex - a commercial shortening - in her meringue buttercream, and I can’t bring myself to do that.  She switched from the bench scraper to the paint thing and hasn’t looked back since smile

When I do mini cakes, I use the big icing tip to apply the buttercream, but with any other cake, I use the angled spatula to apply the crumb coat and the finish coat, and then use the bench scraper for the final pass. 

Come join us commercial bakers, Hector; there aren’t enough of us who bake from scratch and use all butter buttercream! smile

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Posted: 19 October 2008 10:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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hi There! Reporting in with the post birthdaycake experience. In the end, i decided to buy a cake. things did not go well, but I learned a lot.

1) use all of the syrup that Rose recommends. The cake is dry without it. Also, take off the top crust, it’s a little soggy from the syruping. You HAVE to syrup both sides.

2) do NOT stack two 9 by 13 layers if you use the formula in the back of the book, one layer is tall enough. It just looks absurdly tall. If it were a 9 inch round, it would have been OK, but it just looks freakish if it’s a quarter sheet that is layered. I should have only used 1 layer, or torted one layer. or something like that.

3) the Silk Meringue Buttercream icing has a yellow cast to it from the egg yolks. I don’t think that is appropriate for a kid’s party. Kids don’t like yellow frosting. They like it either white or chocolate brown. If i had wanted a chocolate frosting, I think the SMBC would have been fine.

4) when making the SMBC, there is so little sugar and water used in the meringue, it is impossible to measure it with one of these candy thermometers that have metal protection on it to prevent the glass part of the thermometer from touching bottom. You have to have one of those laser pointer thermometers (which i don’t have).

5) it’s easier to apply the crumb coat with an icing tip. I’ll never try to apply the crumb coat freehand again.

6) SMBC can turn strangely floppy/soft and not pipe well in the end. Strange

7) Maybe the butter cake is too heavy a cake for my taste. I think I’m a genoise gal in the end.

That’s the report! Let me know if you have any questions
..

Elma

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Posted: 20 October 2008 02:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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HI Elma,
Sorry about your bad experience. I think some of them can be remedied.

1. for butter cakes i don’t think you need the syrup, unless you’re adding a liquor for the adults.

2. i like to make super tall sheet cakes. i think it looks opulent. next time try making two thin layers as sheet cakes are difficult to torte. there is a tutorial video on youtube and also country kitchen which shows how to torte if you don’t mind cutting the top layer in half.

3. always use the mousseline buttercream. it comes out whiter than the SMBC. it’s always perfect and pipes great and never lets you down. with my leftover yolks i make regular classic BC and use it for the filling. SMBC is not consistent enough for me.  OR you can color the frosting. i color buttercream brown all the time for cakes that have vanilla icing but need brown for the deco. The sky’s the limit on color.

4. when making one batch of sugar, of course use the smallest pan possible. but you can tip the sugar toward the thermometer, while keeping the edge over the heat, every 30 secs or so so that you can get a read. wear a hot mitt tho or you’ll burn your hand. better yet, make 2 batches and freeze the other one for next time. i have the same type therm and this is how i handle it when making one batch.

5.practice your spatula technique. it will eventually be faster than loading the bag.  the crumb coat should be super thin anyway, don’t worry about making it perfect. you can usually see cake all the way thru my crumb coats.  start with a cold cake and it may be easier.

7. butter cake is heavier, but perhaps the syrup made it too heavy. that’s why i don’t use it, myself.

good luck elma!

jen

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Posted: 20 October 2008 03:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Thanks for the replies everybody, I am learning!

Hector, do you syrup the cakes and then freeze them? Or do you syrup the thawed cakes?

That cake was dry in the end. When I cut into it, I could see on the cross sections of the cake places where the syrup had settled. I was surprised by that. So it was wet in some places and dry in others. I used a squeeze bottle to put the syrup on…

next one I’ll make is a genoise.. I love the concept of a chiffon cake, but those just don’t work in a regular cake pan, I guess..

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