I’m taking a stab at converting Cook’s Illustrated’s Fluffy Yellow Cake recipe to chocolate.
I need to replace some of the cake flour with cocoa powder - no worries there. I’d like to use Hershey’s (undutched) cocoa, but I’m concerned about the leavening. The recipe calls for buttermilk (1 cup) and 1-1/4 tsp baking powder plus 1/4 tsp baking soda. If I replace the buttermilk with boiling water to dissolve the Hershey’s cocoa, will I be OK using the same amounts of baking powder and soda?
Is there a rule-of-thumb for how much baking soda is used with acid ingredients? Somewhere else on the forum I think ~~FRESHKID mentioned a 4:1 ratio for leavening with baking powder vs baking soda (baking soda is 4x more potent than baking powder).
It would be great to be able to say “For 1/2 cup of undutched cocoa dissolved in water, use 1/4 tsp of baking soda in place of 1 tsp of baking powder” or something like that.
I suppose I could just suck it up and buy undutched cocoa. After all, I’ve got 5 different kinds of flour in the house, what’s 2 kinds of cocoa?
I think I found my own answer in The Cake Bible. Instead of using the chocolate butter cake as the model, I should have been looking at the Triple Layer Devil’s Food Cake, which uses nonalkalized chocolate (Hershey’s cocoa). According to the notes, the major difference between the chocolate butter cake is TLDFC is 1-1/2 times the chocolate butter cake and uses nonalkalized chocolate instead of Dutch process.
Butter cake uses 1 T baking powder (3 tsp), which would be 4-1/2 tsp in the bigger recipe. TLDFC uses 1 tsp baking soda (no powder), making the ratio roughly 4:1 and consistent with ~~FRESHKID’s information.
Therefore, 1 tsp baking soda should be enough to neutralize the acid of the 1 cup of Hershey’s cocoa called for, and is equivalent in leavening to 4 tsp (1-1/3 T) baking powder. (I would love it if somebody would confirm that assertion.)
I haven’t had to do this much math since high school algebra. Sr. Grace at Taunton Catholic Middle School would LOVE to tell me “I told you so” after all my eye-rolling in 7th grade at her assertion that I’d actually use any of it later in life.
May I ask an obvious question, but why don’t you just make a chocolate cake recipe to begin with, and never mind converting a yellow cake recipe? If you like the CI Yellow Cake, they have an excellent chocolate cake recipe in their March/April 2006 magazine, Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake. My favorite chocolate cake recipe is from Mrs. Fields, a Devil’s Food Cake, in her I Love Chocolate book. I can post the recipes if you are interested. I prefer these recipes because they use both cocoa powder and real chocolate, so they actually taste like chocolate cake.
Actually… I’m starting with the Fluffy Yellow Cake recipe because I really, really like the texture. It’s got the soft, fluffy texture that’s like a box, but without the off flavors of a box. I like the idea of lightening the cake with whipped egg whites, sort of like a chiffon.
I’ll go back and look at the chocolate cake recipe. The latest issue has an “Emergency Chocolate Cake” that’s got mayonnaise in it, too.
Good afternoon. I cannot tell you how much Baking soda to employ for the amount of Cocoa you are about to use in your cake. That is up to you. I can tell you that generally speaking if there isn’t any heavy ingredients in a recipe which would then require additional chemical leavening use 1 to 1 1/4 tsp of powder per cup of flour. In order to neutrilize a acidic recipe 1/2 tsp per cup of flour & that amount goes for buttermilk or sour cream. Dan as you know baking powder contains baking soda so that amount (25% of the powder) will be helping the acidic ingredients to be neutrized. I am making a choco cake tomorrow & I use 1/4 oz soda for 1 3/8 oz of cocoa. It does have honey in it as well.
Good luck in your baking…I am certain you will be successful in whatever decision you make. Enjoy the rest of the day.
OK… I *FINALLY* got around to trying the CI Fluffy Yellow Cake as a chocolate cake. I decided to do a straight swap of the undutched cocoa powder and boiling water for the buttermilk. It’s in the oven now!
I’ve also recently bought the KitchenAid 6qt Pro mixer and the 3qt combi-whip bowl. It’s sweet…
My “rule of thumb” is to use 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda per cup of buttermilk. I also have wondered about this same question—how much of other acidic ingredients will neutralize how much baking soda? I haven’t had much luck tracking down answers for anything other than buttermilk.
Dan, pls do post the results. I’m interesting in knowing how it turns out. I’ve been meaning to try the yellow cake ever since you posted about it but sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day for all this baking.
Sorry for the delayed update. Been a crazy busy weekend (and I still haven’t finished cleaning the bathroom, which was the main item on my “honey do” list).
Cakes came out of the oven and look good… I haven’t frosted them yet, just wrapped them after they cooled. They did not rise as much as I would have expected (or liked). It may be a leavening issue. TCB calls for 1/2 tsp of baking powder to neutralize the acid of 1c of buttermilk, the CI recipe only uses 1/4 tsp. On the other hand, I have no idea whether the cocoa mixture has the same acidity as buttermilk.
I also interrupted whipping the egg whites briefly while I was distracted by another task. They deflated a bit (foam kind of went “poof” like dish soap when I restarted the mixer), but seemed to whip up OK once I finished them. I’m not sure if that had any effect on the rise.
Next time I make this recipe (and although I haven’t tasted it yet, it’s likely I’ll try again), I might make it in 9x1-1/2in pans instead of 9x2in rounds. I think I might also go to 1/2 tsp of baking soda, too…
This is so funny. One of my favorite chocolate cakes is the Chocolate Mayo cake in The Cake Bible. Because of my altitude location I always have to throw in an extra egg, besides what it is already in the mayo. One day on a whim, I folded in two whipped egg whites just to see what would happen. The cake rose slightly higher, and the texture was amazingly fluffy, yet moist from the mayo. It was almost exactly like the texture from a boxed cake mix.
Now, most of the time when I make this cake, I always use 2 whipped egg whites .
I was actually thinking that the recipe isn’t that far off from the chocolate mayo cake. You don’t emulsify it to the extent of a mayonnaise, but the liquid ingredients consist mostly of 6 egg yolks, melted butter and vegetable oil—for all intents and purposes, the same as mayonnaise.