Flour + cornstarch vs only flour
Posted: 24 March 2009 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]
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My favorite sponge cake recipe calls for equal parts all-purpose flour and cornstarch, which produces a lovely cake that is: 1) easy to torte and handle; 2) absorbs syrup really well due to equal distribution by the tight grain in the sponge; and 3) stores well. I have other sponge recipes that use only all-purpose flour. TCB (page 443) instructs how to substitute 1 cup cake flour with 3/4 cup bleached all-pupose flour + 2 T cornstarch (15% cornstarch).

My question is, what is the relationship of cornstarch to flour, particularly in equal parts, that produces such a lovely sponge?

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Posted: 24 March 2009 02:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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CINDY:
  Good morning & welcome to our culinary club. You have posed a very interesting question. I sometimes modify a recipe by employing some cornstarch in order to weaken the baked product like soft white dinner rolls & shortbread cookies.
  However Cindy I have never heard of anyone employing 50% cornstarch for a wheat flour.  I will try to answer your your ??? about the RELATIONSHIP between cornstarch & wheat flour. First off we must examine the important properties of these two ingredients. Wheat flour has GLUTEN in it. And it is also a starch. Cornstarch does not have GLUTEN in it but is also a starch.
  SRARCHES require a agent in order to do their thing. That is we need hydration WATER or a liquid then the starches in both of these two ingredients begin to function.  Flour is the starch component that holds the structure together with the eggs. Cindy, all I can see is that the cornstarch uses up space in the batter, it doesn’t provide structure. It mainly is employed to produce a cake that
will be as light as a feather. The other three ingredients , FAT,butter, shortening, veg. oil, LIQUIDS, milk, water, fruit juice SUGAR,
honey cornstarch molassis, ete must be in balance with each other without the cornstarch except for the liquids which is required for the starch in the flour as well.
Cindy I hope I did a good job in explaining it to you. I wish you good luck & enjoy the rest of the day young lady.

  ~FRESHKID.

  PS:, I noticed your cake that you posted…excellent work. You are learned & atristically talented as well Cindy. excaim

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Posted: 24 March 2009 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thanks FRESHKID for unraveling the mystery. This sponge is definitely light as a feather.  grin

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Posted: 24 March 2009 09:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I don’t know if I can add much to FreshKid’s excellent information!

Rose states that she uses cornstarch in sponge/egg foam cakes to tighten the grain, though she uses a smaller percentage than 50%.

When substituting cake flour with a mix of cornstarch and AP flour, I don’t think it’s so much to tighten the grain as to make the gluten-forming ablility of the two equivalent.  AP flour has more protein, so mixing it with cornstarch, which does not, brings the protein content down to match that of cake flour.  Substituting straight AP flour for cake flour toughens the structure.

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Posted: 25 March 2009 03:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Cindy, all I can see is that the cornstarch uses up space in the batter, it doesn?t provide structure.

Hi Fresh,
The cornstarch does in fact provide structure. As it gelatinizes in the presence of water the suspension traps gases and leavens the cake. It also makes the crumb more moist. 50% does seem excessive. I think the flavor would be compromised as Rose notes in some of her recipes.

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Posted: 25 March 2009 05:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I am also surprised by the use of equal parts flour/cornstarch, but the flavor is not compromised and the texture is a dream. The 8” sponge looks like a loaf of fine bread, tortes easily without tearing, and slices like 2-day old brioche or like a challah. All of which prompted my initial question.
-Cindy

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Posted: 26 March 2009 05:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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There ya go. Baking is just to complicated for hard and fast rules.

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Posted: 02 April 2009 01:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Gene - 26 March 2009 08:04 AM

There ya go. Baking is just to complicated for hard and fast rules.

I agree. Guidelines, yes—but it’s amazing how you can find good recipes that don’t seem to make sense by the “rules.”

By the way, Cindy, is your favorite sponge recipe a secret? Or is it posted on the Web somewhere or published in a cook book? I’d love to take a look at it.

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