@cahoot - the cake process


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Creaming butter I used 82% butterfat which is just slightly higher than Canadian butter. Most of the American butter is 81% - 82%. You can’t see it but the sugar was infused with lemon zest 10 minutes before I begin.
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Starts out very dense
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And it coagulates into a mass before it becomes fluffy. I already stopped at the two minute mark and scraped down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
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I set a timer, but I also watch it. At the four minute mark it look like this so I stopped. This was extremely light and very fluffy. It was absolutely beautiful ready ready for the next stage.

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Before adding the egg yolk I scraped the butter from the sides and bottom of the bowl.
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Egg whites whipped for 45 seconds on #4 before anything is added; when they are foamy like this, then add the cream of tartar
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continue to beat on #4 for about 45–50 seconds. When they double from the foamy stage to the stage begin adding the sugar.
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Very slowly sprinkle the sugar- it should be a fine sprinkle. Don’t let the sugar touch the side of the bowl and don’t pour it on the beater
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after the sugar is added bit for another 30 seconds at the same speed and then increase it the #6. Watch egg whites next to the inside of the bowl. As that thin wet ring begins to get full and look dryer, that’s an indication that whites are about done. So stop the mixer and check.

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When I took the cake out of the oven I knew the formula I mixed had too much leavening just by the look of the brown spot. The color is not caramelized so I know it’s not sugar. And it is raised.
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I wanted to use this a teaching moment so I took a knife and cut it open all the air bubbles so you could see
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and I cut a circle out so you could see the under side. This formula has 3.5% baking powder; 0.8% baking soda. I only used 48% egg white. So I will cut the baking powder in half and dropped the baking soda to 0.08. But I’ll actually increase the egg whites. Once I get a good cake I will do the buttercream. Oh I will increase the butter because increased egg whites will make the cake dry. But I just thought you would like to see the process.
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SUPER interesting to see! From the pictures, I can tell that I probably undercream my butter most of the time still, but that's something I've been working on to improve as I've been getting experience on seeing what properly creamed butter actually looks like.

My process for meringue is basically identical to yours, since I've based it off of what you've posted here before lol. Would you call those medium-firm peaks then, not quite fully stiff?

Seeing the pictures of the baked cake in the third post was really cool, not many places where you can see how problems in a final product can be pinpointed back to a specific reason. I've seen pictures of tunneling in a cake crumb, but never seen those brown spots on the crust that also indicate where air bubbles are.
 
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SUPER interesting to see! From the pictures, I can tell that I probably undercream my butter most of the time still, but that's something I've been working on to improve as I've been getting experience on seeing what properly creamed butter actually looks like.

My process for meringue is basically identical to yours, since I've based it off of what you've posted here before lol. Would you call those medium-firm peaks then, not quite fully stiff?

Seeing the pictures of the baked cake in the third post was really cool, not many places where you can see how problems in a final product can be pinpointed back to a specific reason. I've seen pictures of tunneling in a cake crumb, but never seen those brown spots on the crust that also indicate where air bubbles are.

that is what I call a stiff peak. it would be slightly softer and the peak would fall over more for a medium stiff peak.

When I get the cake where I want it I’ll write the whole process of how to create a cake recipe from scratch. From looking at that jelly roll pan and saying OK how do I make a cake recipe for this pan? Because I think you are definitely ready to take that next step. So I figured with the questions you’ve been asking me in our conversations I thought heck why not let’s go.

That was the first mix. Now I know what changes to make. I’ll post the results and we’ll see what we get; then I’ll figure out what had to be done from that.
 
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Revision 1: developing cake recipe from scratch



Just wanted to show the steps and that I do maintain the standards for temperature

creaming butter
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butter and sugar after it’s creamed
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butter temperature 68°F
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Emulsion process with egg yolks
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flour and liquid added alternately
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Batter temperature 67°F
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egg whites whipped to stiff peaks
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Egg whites fold it in
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1/2 pan filled
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Now the results of revision 1


1. note the shrinking; 2. note the tiny bubbles
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with the crust removed, note the tiny air bubble holes
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now I cut this warm I should’ve let it cool but look at the crumb. It’s not full of air bubbles.
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So everything you’ve seen here what do you think? After you post your thoughts I’ll explain what I did and why to adjust the recipe.
 
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@Norcalbaker59 So I can see that the air bubbles in revision 1's cake are much smaller than the original test, which presumably is from decreasing the chemical leavening. Would you say that the air bubbles still being present is due to too much meringue then? I'd guess that the air bubbles in a properly made meringue are much smaller and more uniform than the ones that are created from chemical leaveners. So when you said that you would decrease the chemical leavening but increase the amount of meringue, I'd assume that was to get rid of the large air pockets (from the uneven chemical leaveners) while still keeping the cake fluffy enough (from the meringue).

It's interesting that while the bubbles are shown on the crust of the cake, that interior crumb shot doesn't really show any air bubbles. Can't really say as to why that is, but if I had to make a wild guess, something to do with the lighter meringue (which has the air bubbles) in the batter settling on the top of the cake as it bakes? But don't know how possible that is when the meringue and base batter are folded together into a homogenous batter.

Honestly though, even with my untrained eye the cake from revision 1 still looks very good! The interior crumb is even and the air bubble holes on the surface don't look excessive. The crust is fairly pale, and the cake doesn't look dry whatsoever.

A couple quick questions that I just thought of. Do you just remove the top crust of every cake with a paring knife and your fingers? I'm not sure if that's the correct technique, but it's what I've been doing so far, especially since I like to bake cake layers in advance and freeze them, and I find that after freezing the crust gets extra sticky. Getting rid of the top crust also makes the cake soak up a cake syrup better, which I always like to use.

Additionally, cake batters are pretty thick. Even if you start by lightening it with a bit of the meringue, it must ball up in the middle of your whisk when you're folding in the rest of the meringue. Do you tap to shake it out after every one or two folding motions, or just continue with the batter still balled up inside the whisk?

And no worries about when you can do another test batch. This is more than I could ask for, and being able to see an experienced baker's recipe development process is a better education than I could I have ever hoped to get myself. I appreciate you sharing your pictures here!
 
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@Cahoot,

oh very good, yes the tiny bubbles are from reduced Chemical leavening and now with the increase meringue I have the tiny bubbles.

All would have worked out well the bubbles would’ve expanded the cake. But you noticed the shrinkage? My crumb was a lot tighter than it should’ve been.

I didn’t get the full affect of the meringue because my batter was too stiff.

I need more liquid in the batter. When you have shrinkage and a tight crumb you usually need more liquid. So the next revision I’ll add more liquid.

But you did good you do that those little tiny your bubbles were the meringue at work. And I would’ve gotten the full benefit of that meringue had I had more liquid in my batter. So next revision more liquid and hopefully I will have a good formula.

Yes folding the meringue into the batter is a task no doubt. But if you fold the meringue into the butter mixture, then beat in the flour, The meringue is mixed twice. That increases the chance of deflating it. Whenever you work with meringue it’s a pain in the butt. There’s just no getting around it. there’s no sense in spending all that time making the meringue just to deflate it.

I always mix my batter first and then I whip my meringue. But I also have two mixing bowls for my mixer. And I have two stand mixers. And I always do mise en place so everything is ready.

Yes I take a little paring knife to remove the top crust. There is no way to prevent the browning of the top crust. It’s exposed to the air so that is always going to brown.

But with a properly bake cake that should come off easily. I just gently scrape it and it peels right off.

After the cake is cool just wrapping it in plastic wrap and leave it overnight to settle. When you take the plastic off most of the top crust will come off anyway.

Not only does the syrup take better with no top crust, but when the cake is sliced and plated it looks so much better when you don’t have those ugly crust lines.

When I freeze my cake I freeze it with the crust on. When you freeze a cake it’s really important to wrap the cake so there is no air between the cake and the plastic wrap. Any air pockets will allow moisture crystals to form around the cake and dry it out.

If you’re going to freeze the cake longer than a week or to wrap the cake in plastic wrap; then cover it tightly in foil wrap.

Believe it or not a frozen cake is actually quite good.
 
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@Cahoot,

oh very good, yes the tiny bubbles are from reduced Chemical leavening and now with the increase meringue I have the tiny bubbles.

All would have worked out well the bubbles would’ve expanded the cake. But you noticed the shrinkage? My crumb was a lot tighter than it should’ve been.

I didn’t get the full affect of the meringue because my batter was too stiff.

I need more liquid in the batter. When you have shrinkage and a tight crumb you usually need more liquid. So the next revision I’ll add more liquid.

But you did good you do that those little tiny your bubbles were the meringue at work. And I would’ve gotten the full benefit of that meringue had I had more liquid in my batter. So next revision more liquid and hopefully I will have a good formula.

Yes folding the meringue into the batter is a task no doubt. But if you fold the meringue into the butter mixture, then beat in the flour, The meringue is mixed twice. That increases the chance of deflating it. Whenever you work with meringue it’s a pain in the butt. There’s just no getting around it. there’s no sense in spending all that time making the meringue just to deflate it.

I always mix my batter first and then I whip my meringue. But I also have two mixing bowls for my mixer. And I have two stand mixers. And I always do mise en place so everything is ready.

Yes I take a little paring knife to remove the top crust. There is no way to prevent the browning of the top crust. It’s exposed to the air so that is always going to brown.

But with a properly bake cake that should come off easily. I just gently scrape it and it peels right off.

After the cake is cool just wrapping it in plastic wrap and leave it overnight to settle. When you take the plastic off most of the top crust will come off anyway.

Not only does the syrup take better with no top crust, but when the cake is sliced and plated it looks so much better when you don’t have those ugly crust lines.

When I freeze my cake I freeze it with the crust on. When you freeze a cake it’s really important to wrap the cake so there is no air between the cake and the plastic wrap. Any air pockets will allow moisture crystals to form around the cake and dry it out.

If you’re going to freeze the cake longer than a week or to wrap the cake in plastic wrap; then cover it tightly in foil wrap.

Believe it or not a frozen cake is actually quite good.
Hm I never would've thought that more liquid would lead to less rhinkage and a more open crumb.

And yes getting rid of the darker crust is important. I see even some professional bakers also need to remove the dark crust around the edges too, but with the light baking pans I use, cake strips, and baking at 325°F, my edges are always still fairly pale, no huge crust lines that stand out.

I've never found a problem with any of the frozen cakes. In fact being able to do so is so convenient - you can make your layers well in advance, and if you make the buttercream, filling, any decorations, and even the syrup in advance all I have to do on the day of serving is the assembly. Makes it so much less stressful for a beginner, since cake decorating is not my strong suit whatsoever haha. I also find frozen cakes much easier to work with, less fragile and easier to torte into multiple layers. So often times I won't even thaw the frozen cake layers before using.
 
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Hm I never would've thought that more liquid would lead to less rhinkage and a more open crumb.

And yes getting rid of the darker crust is important. I see even some professional bakers also need to remove the dark crust around the edges too, but with the light baking pans I use, cake strips, and baking at 325°F, my edges are always still fairly pale, no huge crust lines that stand out.

I've never found a problem with any of the frozen cakes. In fact being able to do so is so convenient - you can make your layers well in advance, and if you make the buttercream, filling, any decorations, and even the syrup in advance all I have to do on the day of serving is the assembly. Makes it so much less stressful for a beginner, since cake decorating is not my strong suit whatsoever haha. I also find frozen cakes much easier to work with, less fragile and easier to torte into multiple layers. So often times I won't even thaw the frozen cake layers before using.

When it comes to cake bakers tend to get caught up in the fat content. We focus on moist, tender, and fluffy the cake. Those things usually relate back to fat content.

But the liquid content plays a role in how the batter expands and contracts; how the crust sets, how thick it is; color; and also the crumb.

Yes the freezer is indispensable to the baker. Cannot survive without a good freezer!!
 

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