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Category ... General

Cake Questions Three

May 17, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose in General

It has happened again! Cake Questions Too has become so long a thread it takes forever to load so i have closed the postings options for this Thread and Reopened it as Cake Questions Three.

Please also use one of the 4 categories under Cake Questions:

Blogger Aaron Solves Dry Chocolate Cake Problem!

Nov 05, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in General

I've been using Rose's chocolate cake recipes for nearly two years, and always had the same problem - I weighed every ingredient carefully, had the oven spot on 350, and every time, the cake would bake perfectly, but would serve out dry and crumbly. The strange thing was that when I made yellow or white cakes, this didn't happen. Last week I figured out why.
When you use hot water to dissolve the cocoa powder, then let it sit to cool, some of the water evaporates. I stated measuring the water/cocoa mixture *after* it cooled, and found that I was loosing as much as two ounces of water, depending on the conditions in my kitchen! Adding a little room-temp. water, just before mixing the cocoa/water with the other ingredients has totally solved this problem. Just last weekend, I made a wedding cake with a 12-inch, two-layer middle tier of chocolate, baked and iced the day before the event. When served, the cake was soft and moist and the texture perfect.

Continue reading "Blogger Aaron Solves Dry Chocolate Cake Problem!" »

Why Does the Cake Dip in the Center?

Oct 05, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in FAQs

Question from Kim

I've been baking cupcakes using your All Occasion Downy Golden cake recipe. The texture is incredible - soft, light, fluffy and melt-in-your-mouth. The only problem is that the cakes rise beautifully in the oven - but then about 5 minutes after I take them out they begin to sink in the middle. What do you think could be the problem? I'd love for them to be just slightly rounded on top, for the sake of presentation.

Rose Response

First i'd like to say that when I make cakes in two layers I like the cakes to be perfectly flat for tiering but when I make one higher layer I also like it to be gently rounded.

Dipping is always a structural problem. It can be either of the following

The Wrong Type of Flour
If using unbleached flour for a butter cake in which the butter is used in softened form, as opposed to melted as for a genoise, the cake will dip in the center about 5 minutes after baking. This is because the smooth flour particles of unbleached flour cannot effectively hold the butter is suspension. So use bleached cake flour or bleached all-purpose flour.

Too Weak a Structure
This is usually due to too much leavening. Try dropping the baking powder by 1/4 teaspoon.

The larger the cake, the less amount of baking powder per cup of flour is used. This is because the distance from the sides of the pan to the center are greater so that they batter needs a stronger structure to support itself.

Why Cakes Dome???

Jun 11, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in FAQs

There are two desirable looks to the top of cake layers:

1) slightly rounded for a one layer cake
2) perfectly flat to stack as a multiple layer cake

Cakes dome in the middle for two reasons:
1) the metal on the outside of the pan conducts the heat faster so that the sides of the cake set while the center still continues to bake and rise higher than the sides.

2) the structure of the cake is too strong, preventing the leavening gases from escaping til toward the end of baking when they erupt through the center like a volcano.

My recipes are created to have the proper strength or structure of the batter to result in level or slightly rounded tops.


If you are getting doming:

1) try silicone pans (silicone does not conduct the heat the way metal does making the center to sides more even).

2) wrap metal pans with moistened cake strips. you can make your own by wetting paper towels and wrapping them in foil or purchase cake strips that can be reused many many times.

3) use a weaker flour. i you are using all purpose flour switch to cake flour.

4) increase the leavening. if using baking powder increase it by 1/4 teaspoon; if baking soda 1/16 teaspoon. you may need to increase it further depending on the results. leavening weakens the structure of the cake by breaking through the cell walls created by the gluten formed by the flour when combined with liquid.

5) increase the butter: an extra ounce of butter will coat the flour more preventing the formation of gluten, weakening the structure.

Why not just use a cake mix?

Mar 23, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in General

Cake mixes contain emulsifiers which give them what is known as tolerance, i.e., the ability to keep their texture despite additions of various extra ingredients. These emulsifiers result in an unpleasantly metallic after-taste. The flavor of a cake baked from scratch is incomparably superior.

How do I keep the top of my cakes from swelling up in the middle and cracking?

Mar 16, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in General

Rose's Magic Cake Strips (silicone) are available on Amazon and in cake decorating supply places, work very well to keep layer cakes level. Lowering the heat 25 degrees is another solution as is using cake flour or bleached all purpose which have a lower protein content.

How can you be sure the cake will come out of the pan in one piece?

Mar 15, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in FAQs

With the exception of foam cakes such as chiffon and angel food where the pan must not be greased, a cake pan should be both greased and floured. Solid vegetable shortening is better than butter unless you use clarified butter. A non-stick vegetable spray with flour is far easier to use than the greasing and flouring method and indispensable when using a fluted tube pan which cannot be lined with parchment.

An additional safeguard for cakes baked in fluted tube pans, particularly chocolate, is to invert the cake immediately after baking onto a flat plate and leave the pan in place. The steam thus created helps to release it from the pan. For standard cake pans I grease the bottom to hold the parchment in place and then spray the parchment and the sides of the pan with a non-stick vegetable spray that contains flour.

The standard 9 or 10-inch cake should cool on a rack for 10 minutes which gives it a chance to shrink from the sides of the pan. Itís also a good idea to go around the sides with a small metal spatula or knife, pressing it against the sides of the pan, to be sure none of the cake has stuck.

Making a Cake in a Different Size Cake Pan

Mar 04, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in FAQs


I wanted to bake your white chocolate whisper cake but use a tube pan instead of the round cake pans. Is this possible and what do I need to know to make this work?


on page 455 of the cake bible is a chart listing the volume of most cake pans. of course if you have an odd-shaped pan you will need to measure the volume yourself by pouring water into it. if it's a two-piece pan first line it with a clean garbage bag.

compare the size and volume of the pans specified in the recipe to the one which you want to use and then either increase or decrease it proportionately.

a cake in a tube pan will take longer to bake than in a 9 x 2 or 9 x 1 1/2 inch pan but use the usual tests of springing back when touched lightly on top and a cake tester inserted in the middle between sides of pan and tube comes out clean.

Frosting for 90 Degree Weather

Feb 09, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in Wedding


Dear Rose,

I hope you can help me with my dilema. My daughter is getting married in
August. The wedding reception will be outdoors in Illinois. She has picked
cupcakes instead of a traditional wedding cake. The problem is the
frosting....it is usually around 90 degrees and humid. Our baker usually
uses some crisco (yikes!) in the frosting.

I can not do crisco...no matter what the outside temp is...pls help with any
suggestion on how to decorate the cupcakes, what ingredients to use and

I am planning on ordering your book, "The Cake Bible."

Thank you soooooo very much.


the best frosting for 90 degree temperatures is the mousseline buttercream but i think the silk meringue might hold up well too. the easiest and safest would be to use a curd such as lemon curd.

Layer Cakes Rising Higher Than the Pan

Feb 07, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose in General


Hi rose! I love your book.

The issue I'm having is that in your Book The Cake Bible, you say to use 9 inch x 1 1/2 inch round pans for making the All Occasion Downey Yellow Butter Cake. I followed your instructions to the letter. The layers rose above the tops of the cake pans. Did I do something wrong? Should I just be using the 9x2 inch pans instead?

Thank you!


It's okay if layer cakes rise a little above the sides of the pan as the structure can still support it. The real indication is if the finished height after unmolding is the same as I specified. The batter may be a little too much for the 1 1/2" high pan but it is not enough for the 2 inch high pans.

Cake Questions

Nov 30, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose in Cake Questions

Update Nov 2007: Have a new question? You should visit the new Cake Questions section of the forum, or the more recent blog entry, Cake Questions Too.

Jessica Question:

I live in Australia and decorate cakes for friends and family. I just discovered an old copy of your book the cake bible in my local library. I think its great so I have looked up your site. I was just wondering if the book has been revised and updated since first being published? I notice that mud cakes are not covered at all in the book I borrowed and there are some other modern things missing too. Anyway I know you're busy so thanks for your time. Keep up the good work.

Rose Reply:
thank you for asking. in fact, the first revision of the cake bible has just come out but i haven't added any new cakes. what i revised was the equipment and ingredient sources, how to adjust batter for the more current pan sizes that are 2 inches high instead of 1-1/2 inches, and the chocolate sections because people don't talk chocolate brand anymore, they talk percentage of chocolate mass!

i am, at the present time, working on a comprehensive four color cake book for wiley which will be out in the next two or three years and it will include some of the newer cakes.

Cheryl Question:
Is it possible to attach ribbons made from fondant around the bottom edges of the tiers of a buttercream frosted wedding cake? How and at what point in assembly would you attach them? Thanks.

Rose Reply:
the answer is yes! i would apply them after the cake is assembled. they will stick to the buttercream so you should have no problem holding them in place.

Stacey Question:
What is the difference between your "favorite yellow cake" in this blog and the yellow cake in the Cake Bible in terms of taste and texture? Also, I recently made a French buttercream that tasted like a bowl of butter and a powdered sugar and butter frosting that tasted like pure sugar. What is the best vanilla frosting to use for cupcakes?

Rose Reply:
my favorite yellow cake on the blog is the same as the one in the cake bible. i put it in because i wanted everyone to have it even if they didn't have the book.

not everyone likes french buttercream. some people prefer the sugary, slightly gritty texture of powdered sugar buttercream to the satiny texture of the french variety. in any case, it's going to taste like butter and sugar because that's what it is. but it should also be flavored with pure vanilla extract. and of course there are many possible additions to buttercream such as coffee, orange, praline....

Melvin Question:
thanks for writing. i made the cheese cake but i was a little lose the next day i used low fat cream cheese was that a mistake? or should i have cook longer? thanks

Rose Reply:
i strongly advise against using low fat products in baking. they will adversely affect both taste and texture. better to cut smaller servings!

Rene Question:
Dear Rose,

I love baking and always have. And now I have the priviledge of helping a young woman, who is like a sister to me, with her wedding cakes. Unfortunately what she wants is a fair distance out of my league. I am hoping very much that you might be able to answer a couple of questions for me.

A single cake, I could do. What she wants to have one cake on each table, which turns out to be about 40 individual creations. (Ouch.) She is hoping for 2 tier cakes (around 8 and 6 inches.) We are tentatively planning 7 different designs with fillings including everything from dacquois to conserves.

It is the sheer volume that puts me out of my depth. It means that everything must be done as far ahead as possiblem, which I have very little experience with. I usually serve my cakes as soon after I make them as possible. Your Cake Bible is helping me a lot because it has so much information about storing each of the components. I am just trying to work out some logistics.

Is it better to prepare the components, store them individually and then put them together as close to the wedding date as possible OR is it better to put the cakes together and store them (for as long as 4, even 5 months?) ready to be decorated? Or could we even decorate them so they are ready to be tiered and finished? I really don't know.

I could just not begin to thank you enough for any guidance you could give me. I love this girl and want to do everything possible to help her wedding day be just the way she dreams of it. I just don't know how the best way to organize this size of a baking project.

Since I am here writing, I have a side question: what is your experience with using flower petals IN your cakes and buttercreams. I have seen these recipes, but have not tried them. Are they a pleasant suprise? Or more novelty, less than delicious?

Thank you, by the way, for all of the help your books have given me in pursuing my favorite hobby. :) Now that I know you have a blog, I look forward to enjoying that too. :)


Rose Reply:
you are a saint!!! most professional bakeries when they make cakes ahead store the layers unfrosted in the freezer (well-wrapped). but this may be bc this gives them the option to use them with different buttercreams as the orders come in. but it is also easier to wrap an unfrosted cake. to freeze a frosted layer you would have to freeze it first and wrap it after the buttercream has set. so probably the best approach is to freeze the layers.

when you make cakes ahead, it is helpful to use a little simply syrup sprinkled on the layers to keep them from drying.

we all hope you will send a photo of this massive undertaking so we can post it to the blog!

re the flower petals, i don't imagine they would offer much in terms of flavor or in texture. there are wonderful extracts such as the rose syrup carried by la cuisine in alexandria.

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