Coverting a yellow cake recipe to chocolate
Posted: 14 February 2009 04:35 PM   [ Ignore ]
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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?

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Posted: 14 February 2009 11:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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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.

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Posted: 15 February 2009 01:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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What fun would that be? grin

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.

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Posted: 15 February 2009 01:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Honestly, you’d never know it was made with mayo. Still, I understand if it’s that yecchy, you might not even want to deal with it.

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Posted: 04 April 2009 05:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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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…

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Posted: 05 April 2009 12:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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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…

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Posted: 05 April 2009 01:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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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.

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Posted: 05 April 2009 10:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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OK. I ran out of steam and never got to make any frosting, so I just cut into the cake ‘cuz I couldn’t stand it any more. grin

The taste and texture are good, but not what I was expecting. It didn’t have that fluffy-like-a-box-mix texture I was hoping for.  I think part of it was that it was under-leavened.  I also wouldn’t mind a more chocolaty flavor.

Next time I think 1/2 tsp of baking soda instead of 1/4 tsp that the recipe called for.  I also think I might add some melted chocolate to the mix to see if I can boost the chocolate flavor.

I’ve attached a pic of the cut cake.  You can tell from the picture that the crumb is a little tight.

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Posted: 06 April 2009 08:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Roxanne,

Thanks for both suggestions. I’m using Hershey’s only because I had it in the house and for the exercise of converting the recipe using what I had on hand (that’s the engineer in me coming out). I really should just go get some Dutched chocolate and be done with it grin

DO’B

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Posted: 06 April 2009 12:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Julie - 06 April 2009 03:22 PM

Regarding increasing baking soda, I would suggest only using the minimum amount of b soda needed to neutralize the non-dutched cocoa.  After that, if more leavening is needed, add in baking powder.

I figured as much. I haven’t found (and perhaps I haven’t looked hard enough) a ratio of baking soda to neutralize a given amount of un-Dutched cocoa. I’m going to get some Dutch-process cocoa and try it again. The science and math appeals to the geek in me to a point, and then I just want some damned cake already!

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Posted: 06 April 2009 01:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Rozanne,

Baking and cake decorating is supposed to be my “right brain” activity. Funny how the geek in me won’t leave it alone!

I’m also glad to know that someone here reads my Tweets. grin They’ve been leaning very work-related of late. It was nice to get back into the kitchen this weekend. 

I’m surprised that there isn’t more overlap on this site w/ other social media. I’ve only had 1 friend request on Facebook from here, and you’re the first person to admit to looking me up on Twitter…

—DO’B

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