Looking for some thoughts on what the issue could be please.


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Hello Everyone.

I'm Peter, new to these forums and found them after looking around the web for a UK based Baking Forum where I knew I would find like-minded individuals to share ideas and questions with.

So, now to my issue.

I make basic sponge cakes, typically either Chocolate, Lemon, Coffee and Walnut, Plain Vic etc.

So yesterday I decided to make a couple of cakes, a Coffee and Walnut one and a Lemon one. I will detail below what I use and how I tend to make them.

I use stork and at room temp too. I weigh my six eggs, and whatever they come out at I then use the same weight in the stork, self raising flour and caster sugar.

I blend the sugar and stork together, then add the lemon baking emulsion at a rate of 2 tablespoons. I then add half the eggs and half the flour and mix and then add the rest of the eggs and flour to mix again and divide the mixture between two 8 inch round tins that are 3"deep.

These then go into the oven which is pre-heated to Gas 5 and on the shelf which has been positioned to ensure the cake tins are at the half height in the oven, I bake these for typically 48 mins.

However, late last year I had an issue where my oven seemed to be malfunctioning where the oven would come on and the gas would go to full flow to pre-heat the oven, but then when placing in the two tins the flame just didn't seem to go back to high again to allow for the cold materials placed in it and the heat absorption from the cake mix.

I contacted the manufacturer, Belling, and they suspected the thermostat may be broken or not working properly. So and engineer visit was arranged and £140 for this and a new thermostat which he said the old one was faulty. Shame really as the cooker was £700 and only just over 2 years old, but hey ho.

If you look at the picture the two cakes at the rear where the first ones out the oven which are the coffee and walnut, and you can see that they have sunk slightly despite being in the oven on gas 5 for 48 mins. They are even very browned on the top and started to burn at the edges, and yet after turning them over to check I found the base and in particular the middle to be somewhat soggy and un-cooked.

I'm going to do a dummy run and make a slightly smaller cake and use the same method etc and this time I will stay close to the oven and check to make sure the gas goes high again to compensate for the wet materials and cold tins etc.

But I thought I would put finger to keyboard and share this with all of you to see if anyone has any thoughts on this?

Thank you in advance for any ideas or suggestions of which both will be most welcome, because after all that's how we learn and improve.

Kind regards

Peter.
 

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Wow, gas mark 5 is the equivalent of 200°C (375°F). That is the wrong temperature for baking cake. Cake should be baked at 170°C (325°)
Notice the cakes all have a hard, dry and brown crust.

That’s from excessive heat. Cake batter bakes from the outside in toward the center. As cake batter heats, a process called starch gelatinization happens that sets the batter.

When the oven is too hot the batter sets too soon on the edges. The center is uncooked and continues to rise and burst in the center like a volcano.

A properly baked cake should not be overly brown all over. And it should be level.
You need to reduce your baking temperature. Buy an oven thermometer. Preheat your oven to 170°C. (325°F).

When you check your cakes for doneness, lightly touch the top of the cake. If the cake springs back insert an instant read thermometer.
Butter cakes: center of cake internal temperature of 93°C - 96°C (200°F - 205°F) is done.

Foam, angel food, sponge cakes: 96°C - 98°C (205°F - 210°F) is done.


Water boils at 100°C (212°F). Never allow a cake to go over 100°C (212°F) as the amount of loss hydration due to evaporation will result in a dry cake.




It is with rare exception that I bake a cake above 170°C (325°F).



How to make baking strips




When cake is baked properly, it is level. When it’s level the batter baked evenly. It is not dried out. The cake can be properly torted for decorating. No domed tops are cut off and thrown away—no wasted cake. It’s easy to level the cake when filling and icing. The cake looks appetizing when sliced and plated. Baking cake at the proper temperature and using baking strips ensures a properly baked cake.
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Hello.

Many thanks for getting back to me on my situation.

However I have to correct myself, I got my temp completely wrong. I was cooking them at 200C. Not Gas5

So, just an update on what I tried yesterday. I mixed up another mixture exactly the same as detailed in my initial post, and this time I used some baking strips as you suggested, which seemed to make the cakes look better after cooking, IE not dried and cracked and I cooked them on the middle shelf for 50mins at 170C, but, if you look at the attached picture you can see the middle is still pretty much liquid. So I covered them in foil and baked again for another 10 mins which made no noticeable difference. (I also bought a Salter Oven Thermometer which in the other picture you can see it's at 170C)

I don't think I explained myself very well in my initial post so let me give a little more detail about this. I am now using a Belling Gas cooker which I have had for some 2 years, but have only just started baking again with having more social hours re-assigned to me at the Hospital I work at. I used to work twelve and a half hour shifts, and the last thing you wanted to do when working those was to mess about in the kitchen making cakes when you were pretty much exhausted.

Before this Belling cooker I had a Cannon cooker, which was actually quite old, but, the cakes always turned out beautifully using it and this is the first time I have ever had an issue such as this, which is why I posted to the forum detailing what had happened and what I had done regards to recipe, mixing, cooking time etc in case anyone spotted something. However I am now of the opinion it is something to do with this oven, maybe all the heat just goes straight to the top on this cooker, hence the bottoms being soggy and not cooked in the middle?

If you have any other thoughts or suggestions they would be most welcome.
 

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Hello.

Many thanks for getting back to me on my situation.

However I have to correct myself, I got my temp completely wrong. I was cooking them at 200C. Not Gas5

So, just an update on what I tried yesterday. I mixed up another mixture exactly the same as detailed in my initial post, and this time I used some baking strips as you suggested, which seemed to make the cakes look better after cooking, IE not dried and cracked and I cooked them on the middle shelf for 50mins at 170C, but, if you look at the attached picture you can see the middle is still pretty much liquid. So I covered them in foil and baked again for another 10 mins which made no noticeable difference. (I also bought a Salter Oven Thermometer which in the other picture you can see it's at 170C)

I don't think I explained myself very well in my initial post so let me give a little more detail about this. I am now using a Belling Gas cooker which I have had for some 2 years, but have only just started baking again with having more social hours re-assigned to me at the Hospital I work at. I used to work twelve and a half hour shifts, and the last thing you wanted to do when working those was to mess about in the kitchen making cakes when you were pretty much exhausted.

Before this Belling cooker I had a Cannon cooker, which was actually quite old, but, the cakes always turned out beautifully using it and this is the first time I have ever had an issue such as this, which is why I posted to the forum detailing what had happened and what I had done regards to recipe, mixing, cooking time etc in case anyone spotted something. However I am now of the opinion it is something to do with this oven, maybe all the heat just goes straight to the top on this cooker, hence the bottoms being soggy and not cooked in the middle?

If you have any other thoughts or suggestions they would be most welcome.
yes something is definitely wrong with the oven. It should not take a cake 50 minutes to bake at 170°C.

A thermometer though should not hang on the wall of the oven at the front. Place or hang the thermometer on the rack in the center of the oven, then preheat the oven for at least 30 minutes. Then check the temperature.

Do you have anything on your oven floor like a sheet of aluminum foil to catch drips? If so remove it as anything on the oven floor can Interfere with heat circulation.

There is definitely something going on with your oven.
 
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Oh I just read through your original post

3” deep cake. Sorry I had a senior moment. Of course your bake time is going to increase AND you should be using a heating core.

Place the heating core under the parchment paper. These cake tins are not greased because the batter is a chiffon cake. Chiffon cake is not baked in greased tins. Prepare your tins for the type of batter.

3DC3D01C-6C3D-4377-A3E5-9EB608F5DC39.jpeg


The metal absorbs heat and helps to bake from the center outward


1DD9354D-DF04-4B42-94C5-AA6430FCA6C1.jpeg
 
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If you’re located in the UK, you can order the Fat Daddio brand 4” heating core from cake craft.

You can also try a flower decorating nail. They’re not as big in diameter as a heating core, so not as good, but I’ve used them in a pinch with success.

 
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Hello.

Thank you very much for the info, it's very sweet of you.

I am currently in talks with the oven manufacturers over this, I won't go into it here because it would be a long winded story and probably bore everyone to death.

I am attaching a couple of pictures of what my cakes used to turn out like all the time, but that was with the Cannon Cooker. (I use the cake boxes upside down, so it's easier for the Nurses to get at the cake and cut it, I don't trust them to try and take it out of the box the other way round in case they drop them.)

PS So a my cakes are called chiffon cakes, I hadn't realised, and I always used to lightly grease the sides and bottom so it makes for easier removal of the cakes from the tins, which I always use pop out bottoms anyway. What do you use of not greasing the sides etc?

Thank you again for the help and especially the super useful tips.
 

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@Amateur baker


When you have a dark brown crust form that is from the Maillard reaction. You do not want that on cake. That is a combination of the wheat and the sugar caramelizing; and it only happens with prolonged heat and high temperature. Which in turns means extensive evaporation of moisture in the batter. So you have a thick dry crust, which is very unpleasant and undesirable in a cake. And the crumb is also dry.

And since a cake goes dry and stale as it ages, an over-baked cake just gets worse over time.


Now Maillard reaction is very desirable in some baked goods such as bread, croissants, and some cookies, but just not in cake.

When you have a deep cake pan you definitely have to reduce your baking temperature, use baking strips, and use a heating core to ensure the center bakes without over baking. You want to minimize any Maillard reaction so no hard crust forms, the crumb is soft and the cake retains as much moisture as possible.

The description of the cake you gave in your original post is a butter cake. I know in the UK it’s referred to as a Victoria sponge, but in the world of baking it is a butter cake, not a sponge. A chiffon cake is a specific type of cake.

Cakes fall into different categories depending on mixing methods and leavening. The two most common cakes are butter cakes and foam cakes.

Butter cakes: mechanical leavening by creaming butter and sugar; also includes chemical leavening of baking powder and/or baking soda. Dry ingredients are sifted together and set aside. Liquid (usually milk) is measured and set aside. Butter is beaten with sugar to create air pockets in the butter. Whole eggs are then added to the butter and sugar, then vanilla, Then the dry and liquid ingredients are added alternately to the butter and egg mixture.


Foam cakes: leavened with egg whites. Traditional sponge, genoise, chiffon, and angel food cakes fall into this category. Since were talking about chiffon cake I’ll just explain the chiffon cake.

Chiffon cake is leavened with both egg whites and chemical leavening (baking powder). It was developed by Harry Baker, an Insurance salesman, in the US in 1927. He bake the cakes and sold it to local restaurants in the Los Angeles area. The cake became wildly popular in restaurants that were popular with celebrities.

Baker would not give out the recipe. This was the best kept secret in baking for about 20 years. He then sold the recipe to General Mills. Even still the professional bakers had a difficult time reproducing it in their test kitchens. When they finally came up with a reliable adaptation of the recipe, they published it in their Betty Crocker cookbook.

Bleached cake flour is required to give it the light airy crumb and light color.

Water is used for the liquid instead of milk. I use sparkling mineral water. I mix it with a combination of cordial; usually elderflower cordial.

Oil is used instead of butter.

The eggs are separated and the yolks are mixed in with the liquids. The egg whites are whipped separately and folded in at the end.

The batter is very fragile. It must be baked in a tube pan. The tube keeps the center from collapsing during baking.

If the pan is greased, it will cause the batter to slide down the sides of the pan as it bakes, causing the cake to collapse. So the pan is never greased.

After baking the cake must be cooled upside down to prevent collapsing because it is very fragile until cooled.

I use a heating core when I bake it in a regular cake tin. The heating core in the center acts like a center tube. I’m able to bake a chiffon cake in a layer cake without the huge hole that tube pan makes.

But a chiffon cake is very light and airy, so I’m also limited in tier height stacking and filling. I once added both fruit and cream filling and it was a disaster. Too much weight and the cake did not hold up in slicing. At least for torted layers.


I usually make lemon cream or passionfruit cream filling then cover it with mascarpone Chantilly frosting. Then add some fresh berries for decorations on top.

Before decorating the cake, I usually brush on a little elderflower cordial simple syrup (or whatever flavor the cake) to enhance the flavor of the cake.
 
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Wow, gas mark 5 is the equivalent of 200°C (375°F). That is the wrong temperature for baking cake. Cake should be baked at 170°C (325°)
Notice the cakes all have a hard, dry and brown crust.

That’s from excessive heat. Cake batter bakes from the outside in toward the center. As cake batter heats, a process called starch gelatinization happens that sets the batter.

When the oven is too hot the batter sets too soon on the edges. The center is uncooked and continues to rise and burst in the center like a volcano.

A properly baked cake should not be overly brown all over. And it should be level.
You need to reduce your baking temperature. Buy an oven thermometer. Preheat your oven to 170°C. (325°F).

When you check your cakes for doneness, lightly touch the top of the cake. If the cake springs back insert an instant read thermometer.
Butter cakes: center of cake internal temperature of 93°C - 96°C (200°F - 205°F) is done.

Foam, angel food, sponge cakes: 96°C - 98°C (205°F - 210°F) is done.


Water boils at 100°C (212°F). Never allow a cake to go over 100°C (212°F) as the amount of loss hydration due to evaporation will result in a dry cake.




It is with rare exception that I bake a cake above 170°C (325°F).



How to make baking strips




When cake is baked properly, it is level. When it’s level the batter baked evenly. It is not dried out. The cake can be properly torted for decorating. No domed tops are cut off and thrown away—no wasted cake. It’s easy to level the cake when filling and icing. The cake looks appetizing when sliced and plated. Baking cake at the proper temperature and using baking strips ensures a properly baked cake.
View attachment 3002View attachment 3003
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Ohhhhhh can I get this cake recipe please
You’re just so talented!
 
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I haven’t had time to read through everything but I did see cake strips and I second that!
They’re amazing and really work.

I also agree that cakes should be baked at 170 maximum.

Apologises if I’ve misread the post from scanning but you most definitely need a new oven ☺.

I love baking cakes so do it often and I’ve never seen this happen. Cake strips do delay the baking time slightly but the fact that your cake is raw in the middle I don’t think is anything to do with your baking itself.

@Norcalbaker59, is there anything you can’t make
 
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I haven’t had time to read through everything but I did see cake strips and I second that!
They’re amazing and really work.

I also agree that cakes should be baked at 170 maximum.

Apologises if I’ve misread the post from scanning but you most definitely need a new oven ☺.

I love baking cakes so do it often and I’ve never seen this happen. Cake strips do delay the baking time slightly but the fact that your cake is raw in the middle I don’t think is anything to do with your baking itself.

@Norcalbaker59, is there anything you can’t make
@LamsMekk, thank you for the compliment. I’ve been at it for 20 yrs and counting. Still learning. Still taking classes. Still practicing. And I still have my kitchen disasters—believe me:D
 
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@LamsMekk, thank you for the compliment. I’ve been at it for 20 yrs and counting. Still learning. Still taking classes. Still practicing. And I still have my kitchen disasters—believe me:D
[/QUOTE
I’m glad to hear that mistakes don’t make you a bad baker as I still make many!

Are you able to recommend a vanilla cake and a chocolate cake recipe as I’ve tried soooo many and still not found the right one!

We don’t have cake flour here in the U.K.

Thanks!
 
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I’m glad to hear that mistakes don’t make you a bad baker as I still make many!

Are you able to recommend a vanilla cake and a chocolate cake recipe as I’ve tried soooo many and still not found the right one!

We don’t have cake flour here in the U.K.

Thanks!

I am a firm believer that failure is your greatest teacher. I always learn something from my failures. The discovery of each failure has made me a better baker.

i’m actually working on a new chocolate recipe right now. That will probably work for the UK because I am using unbleached flour. Vanilla cake is a tough one because I like my cake white—as you can tell from the photo above, so I use cake flour. I’ve never been happy with any of the vanilla cake recipes I’ve developed using unbleached flour. After I finish this chocolate cake recipe, I’ll revisit the vanilla cake in unbleached flour. Don’t get me wrong, my unbleached flour vanilla cake was not bad, it’s just I have such a high standard for vanilla cake, that I’m impossible to please.

I probably won’t get back to working my chocolate cake recipe for about two - three weeks though because I have several really important things I have to complete here. But I will get back to it because it’s a project I really want to finish in the next month.
 
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Oh in fact that zoomed in pic of chocolate cake above is the first test on the base recipe of the chocolate cake. I want a chocolate cake that has a lot of intense chocolate flavor, but without being cloying sweet.
 
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Oh in fact that zoomed in pic of chocolate cake above is the first test on the base recipe of the chocolate cake. I want a chocolate cake that has a lot of intense chocolate flavor, but without being cloying sweet.

100% failures are necessary when learning!!’ I totally agree.

I’m really keen to find a base cake recipe that is moist but not tooo moist, able to hold its structure, not stodgy at all and a cake that doesn’t dry out!

As you can probably tell I’m also very fussy
 
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100% failures are necessary when learning!!’ I totally agree.

I’m really keen to find a base cake recipe that is moist but not tooo moist, able to hold its structure, not stodgy at all and a cake that doesn’t dry out!

As you can probably tell I’m also very fussy
I’m glad you’re very fussy. You should have high standards. The best bakers are those who strive for perfection. Now I know there are many who dismiss us as being neurotic. But there is a marked difference in the quality of what you and I bake, and what those who dismiss us bake.

Staling is the bane of the bakery world. Food scientist devote so much effort to slow staling. Everything from preservatives to packaging is used to slow the staling process in commercial baking.

For home bakers, I think the keys for dealing with dry cake are the following:

1. A good formula

2. using the correct pan so the cake does not form a dry hard crust

3. correct baking temperature, again so cake does not form a dry hard crust

4. cloth baking strips to ensure even baking and to avoid a dry hard crust

5. not over baking

I am just surprised by the number of
bakers who think a dried out, domed, browned, cracked cake is a perfectly baked cake. Unfortunately, companies like Wilton manufacturer cake levers; so they simply reinforce this notion.
 
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100% failures are necessary when learning!!’ I totally agree.

I’m really keen to find a base cake recipe that is moist but not tooo moist, able to hold its structure, not stodgy at all and a cake that doesn’t dry out!

As you can probably tell I’m also very fussy
Ain't nothing wrong with being fussy! I'm only amateur, but for some of the goods I've made, I literally spend hours of research beforehand looking up dozens of recipes, comparing them in a spreadsheet, and cross-referencing techniques from textbooks. I'll fully admit that I'm much more neurotic in regards to this than an average person, but in my opinion, it pays to spend effort and having a high standard.

I am a firm believer that failure is your greatest teacher. I always learn something from my failures. The discovery of each failure has made me a better baker.

i’m actually working on a new chocolate recipe right now. That will probably work for the UK because I am using unbleached flour. Vanilla cake is a tough one because I like my cake white—as you can tell from the photo above, so I use cake flour. I’ve never been happy with any of the vanilla cake recipes I’ve developed using unbleached flour. After I finish this chocolate cake recipe, I’ll revisit the vanilla cake in unbleached flour. Don’t get me wrong, my unbleached flour vanilla cake was not bad, it’s just I have such a high standard for vanilla cake, that I’m impossible to please.

I probably won’t get back to working my chocolate cake recipe for about two - three weeks though because I have several really important things I have to complete here. But I will get back to it because it’s a project I really want to finish in the next month.
Out of curiosity, have you made Stella Parks' vanilla cake or RLB's yellow cake recipes? I haven't started focusing on cakes yet (though I do plan on getting there soon), but from my understanding, Stella Parks and RLB are some of the best sources for American-style fat-based cakes. Since vanilla cake is probably the most basic type of cake to start with and you always have great information, I'd like to know your opinion on the popular recipes out there.
 
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@Cahoot
I have not tried Stella‘s recipe. I have her cookbook. I’m not sure if the cake recipe is in there. I know she has a vanilla cake recipe online.


I have one of RLB’s cookbooks as well, Heavenly Cakes.

I’ve made her vanilla velvet cake. But it was some years ago. Not quite what I want in a cake.

A few years after I started baking I enrolled in a cake class because my decorating skills were pretty bad. I used the recipe from that class a number of times before I discovered the instructor used RLB’s white velvet cake, but never credited RLB.

But as I learned more, I discovered the formula and method are not original to RLB. She copied the high ratio mixing method from the commercial industry.

RLB just calls it reverse creaming. The dry ingredients are mixed together. Then the fat is added to the dry ingredients, followed by the liquid. The egg whites are added last in two additions.

The cake dense and eggy. And that’s the thing with the reverse creaming is you get a denser cake.

In commercial baking in the US, high ratio cake flour and shortening are used in cakes. The high ratio flour creates the light airy texture and high rise; the shortening coats the inside of the mouth and gives the delusion of a moist cake.

The standard formula is sugar is equal or slightly more than the weight of the flour. The liquid* is equal to the weight of the flour.

The high ratio cake flour is a very finely ground flour, so the high ratio ratio shortening disperse is very finally into it.

But RLB is not using high ratio cake flour or high ratio shortening. She’s using regular cake flour and butter. So you don’t get the same affect as a bakery cake.


High ratio shortening was specially formulated with emulsifiers to produce certain qualities in batters and icings.

In the United States, partially hydrogenated oil (PHO’s) were fully ban in 2018. So high ratio shortening’s were reformulated.

But I’m opposed to the use of shortening in cake and icings, so I don’t know how the reformulated PHO free high ratio shortening perform in cake. I know in icings they perform horribly.

So that’s why I was reworking the cake recipes, developing my own to come up with something better.

Right now my go to recipe is a chiffon cake that I developed. I have a vanilla butter cake that I use once in a while but I also developed. But I’m not 100% happy with it. It’s a work in progress. I have a vanilla butter cake with cake flour that I use once in a while that I also developed. But I’m not 100% happy with it. It’s a work in progress. And I started on this chocolate cake here recently. That is a total from scratch restart.

==========

Standard ratios for a commercial high ratio cake. RLB based her vanilla velvet cake and mixing method on this commercial standard.
high ratio cake flour 100%

sugar 100%

high ratio emulsified shortening 50%

eggs 50%

milk 50%



*Liquid includes the eggs. If liquid is equal to the weight of flour, or 100%, you divide the 100% liquid between the milk and the eggs. so 50% eggs, and 50% milk.



With a vanilla cake you use just egg whites.
 
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Hi.

Just a quick update, got sorted with the oven, replacement provided and a fan oven too. Chocolate and a Coffee & Walnut one. They were both gone in an hour and a half

Did a quick batch the other day.
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:oops:
 
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Hi.

Just a quick update, got sorted with the oven, replacement provided and a fan oven too. Chocolate and a Coffee & Walnut one. They were both gone in an hour and a half

Did a quick batch the other day.View attachment 3102View attachment 3103:oops:
It looks good. But you’re still over baking. I can see the transition of top crust of the dark chocolate cake. And the crust is still too thick. And that is from over baking. So your oven temperature is either still too high or you’re leaving it in the oven a little bit too long.
 

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