Hi - I have just taken the Downy Yellow Butter Cake out of the oven, and it is cooling. As I watched it baking in new electric oven, I was panicky to see that at 20 min it was pulling away from sides (9 x 1.5” Wilton dark-colored pans), and the sides were already turning brown and crusty on the sides, and doming like moist souffl? from sides up into center. With a gasp I tested it, and of course the toothpick was wet, so I put it back in the oven, wondering what was going to happen next…At 30 mins it was a little darker on the sides and pulled away, looking a little crusty. Now the top had dropped almost flat, and ended up a light caramel color. At present it is cooling. I raced to the blog, checking ingredients in my head. - I used Florida Crystals sugar, Rumford baking powder sifted with Swansdown cake flour; softened unsalted butter; counted 6 egg yolks; whole milk. Now, in retrospect I realize that since I was out of Bakers Joy, I sprayed the Teflon pans with Pam just in case - that may have hurt the cake sides? I now rememered a big one: I totally forgot to use my brand new Rose’ magic strips!!!! : ( The only other things I can think of is the oven. Since it is a new electric range, I put an old thermometer in tonight to see (Rose indicates they are inaccurate and most likely it is) as when the oven itself showed 350 the thermometer read about 348. The other thing I can think of would be KA Artisan speed: I used stir to combine dry, and 4 to mix. Maybe too low for structure? I have been having some problems with my Barcelona brownies too, so need your help, as always the best!! Many thanks.
I never have good luck with dark-colored pans for cake or cupcakes. They concentrate heat on the sides and overcook them before the center gets done, resulting in a peaked center and sides that have set before having a chance to rise all the way. Rose says to lower the oven temp by 25F if using dark pans, and cake strips would help, too.
If the Pam was just oil, not the oil/flour varitey, that would have an effect as well. The batter will “climb” the sides of the pan better with an oil/flour spray. I like Baker’s Joy because it is not flavored. The Pam variety of cake spray (with flour) has a strong artificial flavor that I don’t care for.
I don’t like the dark colored pans either for layer cakes. If you are going to fill and ice a layer cake, the last thing you want is a thick, dark crust on the cake (I don’t know why Cook’s Illustrated recommends these pans for butter cakes—doesn’t make any sense to me). For pound cake and quick bread style cakes (i.e cornbread) they are excellent, but I don’t like them for butter or sponge cakes.
So, when you are using dark colored pans or glass dishes for baking, you have to turn down the oven 25 degrees. This ensures that the top and bottoms of the cake bake evenly. Also, if you don’t have Baker’s Joy, then grease and flour the pans the old-fashioned way. The pans need to be floured to ensure an even rise, not just an easy release.
Just a note, I get my favorite cake pans from a restaurant supply store. They are about 6 dollars a piece, are heavy aluminum, but don’t have the dark nonstick coating on them. I love them, and my cakes always come out great with them.
Joan, as Julie and Roxanne pointed out, the combination of dark pans and not using the strips definitely contributed to your cake not turning out well. If you really have to use those pans, use the strips and lower the oven temp. It will help somewhat. When I first starting baking I too used to use those dark pans and my cakes never turned out well. I know better now.
Good afternoon Julie, Rosanne. Roxanne:
To tell the truth I bought these 1 1/2 inch pans to test this recipe and never even thought about their darkness. I now remember Rose’s caution about lowering temp.. My MagicLine 9 x 2 are alum color and are good. I questionned that Pam. but one more time of, ‘oh that won’t matter—’ What do you think about the Florida Crystal sugar? And about KA Artisan speed for structure. I thought 4. but there was recent discussion re Kenmore? Tonight is first try for
Mousseline! I’m sure my huband and I will gobble up my failed cake quite happily, and
I hope i can manage passable test on this daunting frosting since it seems to be your favorite, reliable one. Once again, thank you for your kindness and expertise. You do save me from feeling self defeated, and motivate to persevere as I run out to purchase Baker’s
Joy. Will report back
I’m not sure what the Florida Crystals are? Is it plain white sugar? Is it turbinido sugar? Is it Sucanat? I’ve tried Sucanat a few times in baking; works well in quick breads, but not in cookies and cakes that require creaming. Turbinido sugar would work, but you have grind it in a blender or food processor because the sugar grains are too large for creaming. Keep in mind that anything other than white sugar changes the flavor profile of the cake.
Hi Roxanne and everyone - Re the Florida Organic Crystals sugar, I found it on an old blog about 2005, wherein Rose says “This is my basic baking sugar when I want to sweeten without flavoring.” I also saw a chat on the blog by Rose sometime back, but have lost it.
PS, I have ordered 9 x 1 1/2 heavy aluminum pans from Fantes, so no more charred sides and brown bottoms from the dark-colored pans. ; ) - thanks for all the help. joan
Oh my! I just watched Rose demonstrating the all occasion downy yellow butter cake, and observed - she is using a flat beater for the batter! When I made mine day before yesterday, I used the whisk beater. Feeling reeeeally dense, just like the cake!
Joan, the florida crystals are just normal organic sugar, is that right? That will be fine for cakes. The most important thing to do regarding sugar, is to give it a whirl in your food processor or a (clean) coffee/spice grinder to make it super-fine. This improves cake texture.
The only thing I don’t use organic sugar for is caramelizing, when the hot caramelized sugar will be combined with milk. The organic sugar is a little more acidic, which encourages the milk to curdle when heated.
speaking of the downy yellow butter cake, can anyone tell me what I am doing wrong? I have baked this cake 4 times now in the past week and it seems to turn out much drier and crumblier than it should. Not at all like I have heard others describe it. I have been trying to find a reliable all occasion recipe and was hoping that this was it. I love the simplicity of the recipe, but so far, not the results.
I’ve never had this cake turn out dry and crumbly. You either are not measuring ingredients correctly or are not mixing the batter long enough. Following the beating times listed is very important.
You could have also over baked it (too long in the oven and/or your oven was too hot).
Can you give us more information on what you are exactly doing while putting this cake together?
Number one corrective action would be to get an accurate oven thermometer to make sure you oven is heating correctly.
Second corrective action is to get a scale and make sure you weight the ingredients properly.
I actually have never tested my oven with an oven thermometer, maybe I should get one. As far as putting the batter together, I watched Rose’s video and thought that I followed the mixing times; 20 seconds between each liquid ingredient addition and approximately a minute and a half afterwards. I have a scale and sifted and measured my flour onto it. I used cake flour as requested and wondered if I might achieve better results with all purpose. The only other thing that I can think of is the fact that I only had 1% milk. Would that make such a significant difference in the outcome? As far as the ingredients, all were at room temperature.