Vanilla Cupcake Testing- HELP!!!


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Hi! I have created my own vanilla cupcake recipe and have baked it COUNTLESS times! Finally today I got it!!! Perfect taste, texture and fluffiness... until it was totally cooled several hours later and frosted. I tried it again and it was pretty firm and didn't "give" as much as I wanted it too when biting into it. I wouldn't say it was dense really. Just firm. Not soft and fluffy like they had been right out of the oven. Here is the recipe I created as well as how I mixed and baked:

4 oz. (1 stick) Kerrygold unsalted butter
6 oz. cane sugar
2 large eggs (4 oz. total)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
7 1/4 oz. cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
4 oz. sour cream
2 oz. milk

1. I beat the butter and sugar for 1 minute. Then added eggs (and vanilla) one at a time and beat for 1 minute after each add.
2. Whisked the milk and sour cream together in a separate bowl. Sifted flour, salt and baking powder together in another bowl.
3. Next I added the flour mixture and the sour cream/milk alternately to the creamed mixture and mixed by hand just until combined. Filled prepared cupcake pan half-2/3 full. Baked immediately at 350 degrees (I have an oven thermometer) for 10 mins and then rotated pans VERY carefully and baked for 3 more mins. Removed from oven and cooled in pans 1 min. Then put on wire rack to cool completely. Tasted amazing and the crumb was nice and soft and fine and very moist. No tunneling. Not overdone at all or overbrowned. Nice slight dome. Several hours later when I tried them again though after being cooled completely and frosted, the cake seemed really firm like I mentioned at the beginning. I'm at a loss at how to fix this and hopefully someone can help.

My baking powder is not old (tested it). My oven temp is correct according to the thermometer I recently got. I didn't overmix. They didn't shrink or sink. I just can't figure out why they are turning so firm?? Help please!! The only thing I can think of is maybe my butter/egg temp was off because after beating in the last egg it seemed I was loosing my emulsion and it was EVER so slightly starting to separate and "curdle". Would that make the cake firm when cooled?? Thank you in advance! I'm a 100% self-taught baker... I've learned a lot on my own, but really stumped with this one!
 
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Hi! I have created my own vanilla cupcake recipe and have baked it COUNTLESS times! Finally today I got it!!! Perfect taste, texture and fluffiness... until it was totally cooled several hours later and frosted. I tried it again and it was pretty firm and didn't "give" as much as I wanted it too when biting into it. I wouldn't say it was dense really. Just firm. Not soft and fluffy like they had been right out of the oven. Here is the recipe I created as well as how I mixed and baked:

4 oz. (1 stick) Kerrygold unsalted butter
6 oz. cane sugar
2 large eggs (4 oz. total)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
7 1/4 oz. cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
4 oz. sour cream
2 oz. milk

1. I beat the butter and sugar for 1 minute. Then added eggs (and vanilla) one at a time and beat for 1 minute after each add.
2. Whisked the milk and sour cream together in a separate bowl. Sifted flour, salt and baking powder together in another bowl.
3. Next I added the flour mixture and the sour cream/milk alternately to the creamed mixture and mixed by hand just until combined. Filled prepared cupcake pan half-2/3 full. Baked immediately at 350 degrees (I have an oven thermometer) for 10 mins and then rotated pans VERY carefully and baked for 3 more mins. Removed from oven and cooled in pans 1 min. Then put on wire rack to cool completely. Tasted amazing and the crumb was nice and soft and fine and very moist. No tunneling. Not overdone at all or overbrowned. Nice slight dome. Several hours later when I tried them again though after being cooled completely and frosted, the cake seemed really firm like I mentioned at the beginning. I'm at a loss at how to fix this and hopefully someone can help.

My baking powder is not old (tested it). My oven temp is correct according to the thermometer I recently got. I didn't overmix. They didn't shrink or sink. I just can't figure out why they are turning so firm?? Help please!! The only thing I can think of is maybe my butter/egg temp was off because after beating in the last egg it seemed I was loosing my emulsion and it was EVER so slightly starting to separate and "curdle". Would that make the cake firm when cooled?? Thank you in advance! I'm a 100% self-taught baker... I've learned a lot on my own, but really stumped with this one!


Congratulations for developing your own recipe! That's a major step for any baker! Overall your recipe looks solid. To achieve a tender "short" crumb, try making a couple of changes to your mixing method and ingredient amounts.


Creaming: Butter and sugar that is not creamed properly results in a dense texture whether it's cookie dough or cake batter. Creaming is mechanical leavening. The beater forces the sugar crystals through the dense fat, creating open spaces to fill with air. The more passes the sugar crystals make through the butter, the more open spaces they create to trap air. To be effective leavening, there has to be a lot of air in that fat. Beating for one minute doesn't create nearly enough trapped bubbles to leaven properly. The dense butter translates into a dense texture.


Butter temperature should be 60° - 65° before you start. I know that flies in the face of every recipe you see on the Internet and every cookbook in publication. But in culinary classes they teach you to cream butter at 65°. Some pastry chefs like, Stella Parks will beat the butter at 60°. I have to agree with Parks on the 60°. Why cold butter? It has to do with the reason you cream butter to begin with: mechanical leavening. To leavened the batter properly, the butter has to have a ton of air bubbles trapped in it. And that takes time. And as you already know, the longer you beat, the more heat from friction. If the butter gets too warm while creaming it will not aerate and hold the air bubbles properly. When you start with room temperature butter, your butter is already too warm.


I frequently use Kerrygold butter. I find four minutes is about right. I use Kerrygold right out of the refrigerator when it's for creaming--always. Kerrygold is very unusual in that it is very plastic when cold. Other brand butters with 83% butterfat are rock hard when cold. So when I cream Kerrygold butter, I cream it straight from the refrigerator.


Creaming beating time: Beat butter and sugar for 4 - 5 minutes. The actual time that you beat the butter and sugar depends on the temperature of butter when you begin, and the butterfat content. Butters with a higher butterfat content have a lower melting point given the higher butterfat content.


Egg temperature: cold egg right out of the refrigerator. I know, I know you're thinking, "No! Everything ever written on cakes says room temperature." But trust me, once you beat butter for 4 to 5 minutes, you need a cold egg to cool things down. You can't let that butter overheat before all the mixing is completed.


Once you beat that cold egg in for a minute the temperature of the whole mixture will rise dramatically. I recently revised a recipe for someone, so I documented the entire process. The starting temperature of the butter was 48.7°; the eggs 50.2°. After creaming 5 minutes, then mixing in the eggs 1 minute, the temperature of the mixture increased to 70°. If I had started with room temperature butter, after adding the egg, the temperature of that mixture would've been 80°.


The creaming of cold butter and eggs isn't new. Sara Phillips, founder of CraftyBaking, wrote an article about it some 17 years ago. I've been doing it for nearly 20 years now. I think most people who have baked for a number of years all use cold butter when creaming. I don't know where this "room temperature" butter for creaming comes from because even in culinary classes they teach 65° for butter when creaming.


Here's a link to Stella Parks' post on proper creaming. It will help you understand what you're looking for and butter that has been properly creamed.


http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/12/cookie-science-creaming-butter-sugar.html



Sour cream: sour cream makes an excellent fat for cake batter. However it will create a denser spongy like texture. You might consider reducing the sour cream a tad, and increase the milk to make the crumb more tender. Or, blend the cake flour with a bit of low protein all purpose flour like Gold Medal or Pillsbury.


For a butter cake the standard ratios of sugar to flour is 100%. You're sugar is at 80%. So you might want to bring the sugar up a bit. It's hygroscopic properties make it a tenderizer. Cake batters have a lot of water. There's water in milk, sour cream, and butter. Both flour protein molecules and sugar molecules bond with those water molecule. When protein and water molecules bond, they create a strong structure. Too many protein/water bonds means a tough cake. But when there's adequate sugar, the sugar draws water away from the flour. With less water available to the flour protein, the gluten network that develops is weaker. That's why if you add too much sugar to a recipe your cake will actually collapse.


So to balance the protein/water bonds in your recipe, add a bit more sugar.
 
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Messages
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MY GOSH!!!!! Thank you so so so much for that response!!! Absolutely fantastic information! That all makes perfect sense! Thank you so much for taking the time to type that out for me. I really appreciate it!!!

Congratulations for developing your own recipe! That's a major step for any baker! Overall your recipe looks solid. To achieve a tender "short" crumb, try making a couple of changes to your mixing method and ingredient amounts.


Creaming: Butter and sugar that is not creamed properly results in a dense texture whether it's cookie dough or cake batter. Creaming is mechanical leavening. The beater forces the sugar crystals through the dense fat, creating open spaces to fill with air. The more passes the sugar crystals make through the butter, the more open spaces they create to trap air. To be effective leavening, there has to be a lot of air in that fat. Beating for one minute doesn't create nearly enough trapped bubbles to leaven properly. The dense butter translates into a dense texture.


Butter temperature should be 60° - 65° before you start. I know that flies in the face of every recipe you see on the Internet and every cookbook in publication. But in culinary classes they teach you to cream butter at 65°. Some pastry chefs like, Stella Parks will beat the butter at 60°. I have to agree with Parks on the 60°. Why cold butter? It has to do with the reason you cream butter to begin with: mechanical leavening. To leavened the batter properly, the butter has to have a ton of air bubbles trapped in it. And that takes time. And as you already know, the longer you beat, the more heat from friction. If the butter gets too warm while creaming it will not aerate and hold the air bubbles properly. When you start with room temperature butter, your butter is already too warm.


I frequently use Kerrygold butter. I find four minutes is about right. I use Kerrygold right out of the refrigerator when it's for creaming--always. Kerrygold is very unusual in that it is very plastic when cold. Other brand butters with 83% butterfat are rock hard when cold. So when I cream Kerrygold butter, I cream it straight from the refrigerator.


Creaming beating time: Beat butter and sugar for 4 - 5 minutes. The actual time that you beat the butter and sugar depends on the temperature of butter when you begin, and the butterfat content. Butters with a higher butterfat content have a lower melting point given the higher butterfat content.


Egg temperature: cold egg right out of the refrigerator. I know, I know you're thinking, "No! Everything ever written on cakes says room temperature." But trust me, once you beat butter for 4 to 5 minutes, you need a cold egg to cool things down. You can't let that butter overheat before all the mixing is completed.


Once you beat that cold egg in for a minute the temperature of the whole mixture will rise dramatically. I recently revised a recipe for someone, so I documented the entire process. The starting temperature of the butter was 48.7°; the eggs 50.2°. After creaming 5 minutes, then mixing in the eggs 1 minute, the temperature of the mixture increased to 70°. If I had started with room temperature butter, after adding the egg, the temperature of that mixture would've been 80°.


The creaming of cold butter and eggs isn't new. Sara Phillips, founder of CraftyBaking, wrote an article about it some 17 years ago. I've been doing it for nearly 20 years now. I think most people who have baked for a number of years all use cold butter when creaming. I don't know where this "room temperature" butter for creaming comes from because even in culinary classes they teach 65° for butter when creaming.


Here's a link to Stella Parks' post on proper creaming. It will help you understand what you're looking for and butter that has been properly creamed.


http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/12/cookie-science-creaming-butter-sugar.html



Sour cream: sour cream makes an excellent fat for cake batter. However it will create a denser spongy like texture. You might consider reducing the sour cream a tad, and increase the milk to make the crumb more tender. Or, blend the cake flour with a bit of low protein all purpose flour like Gold Medal or Pillsbury.


For a butter cake the standard ratios of sugar to flour is 100%. You're sugar is at 80%. So you might want to bring the sugar up a bit. It's hygroscopic properties make it a tenderizer. Cake batters have a lot of water. There's water in milk, sour cream, and butter. Both flour protein molecules and sugar molecules bond with those water molecule. When protein and water molecules bond, they create a strong structure. Too many protein/water bonds means a tough cake. But when there's adequate sugar, the sugar draws water away from the flour. With less water available to the flour protein, the gluten network that develops is weaker. That's why if you add too much sugar to a recipe your cake will actually collapse.


So to balance the protein/water bonds in your recipe, add a bit more sugar.
 

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