What Went Wrong?


Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
3
Reaction score
2
Hello!

I only recently got into baking and made my first cake a few days ago. It didn’t turn out great, and I don’t know why!

(The cake was made up of three layers of vanilla dough with chocolate icing between the layers, on top, and on the sides.)

The dough was dense and sticky and wasn’t light and airy as it should have been. It was quite difficult cutting through it!
As well, the icing completely fell apart from the dough as I was cutting the cake.

I think this might have happened because I didn’t use butter (which I substituted for plain Greek yogurt) or maybe because I used all-purpose flour instead of cake flour.

Any help would be appreciated! Thank you in advance!
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Feb 12, 2020
Messages
84
Reaction score
26
It's because you made such drastic changes to the recipe. Butter plays a very important role in cake, both as an ingredient itself and in the mixing method of the cake. Greek yogurt is a completely different ingredient and of course substituting it in won't give the same result. You wouldn't replace the egg whites with water in a meringue recipe, and wonder why you got sweet water instead of a fluffy meringue, would you?

Butter-based cakes are mixed using the creaming method, where the butter is creamed with the sugar. This isn't just to simply combine the butter and sugar, but also to to whip air into the butter itself and make it less dense. The sugar granules essentially create thousands of mini tunnels in the butter when they're whipped into the butter at high speeds, further amplifying this effect. For reference this is known as mechanical leavening, and it contributes to making a cake light and airy instead of dense as you got. But by replacing the butter with yogurt you completely forgo this part of the formula.

Of course there's also the makeup of the ingredients themselves. Butter is around 80% fat and 20% water, while Greek yogurt would be max 5% fat. Fat is a tenderizer and contributes to making things, well, tender instead of tough. I'm sure it's clear how taking away all that fat and adding much more water will affect the end result.

And cake flour is different from AP flour in a few aspects, but the most important one is the lower protein content. Less gluten will be developed with cake flour, and gluten is a main contributor to toughness in baked products, further exacerbating the problem from before.
 
Joined
Jun 23, 2017
Messages
2,497
Reaction score
1,267
@Isabella hello and welcome to the forum. Yogurt is not a substitution for butter. When butter is in a cake recipe it is usually creamed with the sugar. This process is very important. It is not a matter of stirring together two ingredients. Beating the sugar into the butter is mechanical leavening. The sugar crystals cuts through the butter creating air pockets. When the chemical leavening (baking powder and or baking soda) is activated it creates gassed that will fill those air pockets. The butter also has a particular amount of water in it. Which is also important in overall steam that is created with the rest of the liquid in the batter.

If the cake recipe did not call for creaming the butter and sugar, you still changed the ratio of fat and water in the batter by substituting yogurt because yogurt and butter are not interchangeable. They do not contain the same levels of fat and water.

When you make a substitution, you have to adjust for the differences. So if you don’t know the role that each ingredient plays in the batter you can’t make those adjustments.


It’s really not advisable to start your baking journey by making substitutions. Baking is a chemical reaction of all the ingredients to time and temperature. It’s important that you understand the fundamentals of baking. It’s all science. When you make substitutions without understanding what those ingredients are, and the role that they play in the batter, you set yourself up for failure. Ingredients are expensive and should not go to waste. Neither should your time and efforts.

To learn more about a baking google things like:
  • Baking ingredients and their functions PDF
  • Baking techniques PDF
  • Cake Types PDF
  • Cake Classifications and Types PDF
  • Science of baking PDF

Adding PDF at the end will pull up any professional sources that are printable/downloadable.
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
3
Reaction score
2
Thank you so much! This confirmed my suspicions that I shouldn’t have substituted the key ingredients. I didn’t do this willingly (I needed to make the cake for a birthday last-minute and I simply didn’t have the right ingredients), but I never realized how drastically it would change the structure of my cake.

Thank you @Cahoot and @Norcalbaker59 for the advice!
 

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Top