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Cake baking questions
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 2:46 am    Post subject: Cake baking questions Reply with quote

I have never met a cake I liked.

That's right. It's not a typo.

I. Don't. Like. Cake.

To me, it's a good waste of flour...and time.

If it's 'sweeties' for me, it's going to be a wonderful fruit pie or a rich custard or a fruit laced cookie.

So, what does my young friend, Kim, want me to teach her to bake?

A cake. (insert "groan" HERE)

So, here's my questions:

Of the very, very few cookbooks that I have that feature cake recipes, all from before the 60's, they have you lining the 9" round pans with waxed paper on the bottoms. Has anyone done that?

Now, for the pans, which I will have to go out and buy. In an old 60's Betty Crocker cookbook, they claim that "shiny, aluminum" cake pans are the best and that "dark or black cake pans are the worst." Their reasons is that the shiny pans bake the cake faster and the dark ones are slower.

Then, in another cookbook, these directions are completely reversed, saying that "shiny pans result in a poorly baked cake and dark pans make for a satisfying dark crust. Do you want dark crust on a cake?

Now, for all this sifting and sifting and resifting that cakes seem to require: most recipes ask you to sift twice and do it into a mound on waxed paper, but they don't tell you WHY!!! Do you just sift a mound of cake flour onto the paper and then scoop THAT into the cup?

Also, some cookbooks tell you to "butter and flour the entire inside of the pan" while others have you only "butter and flour the bottom, leaving the sides free of butter so the batter can climb up the sides of the pan."

I need some help with this, Ladies and Gentlemen, so my reputation can stay intact.

Why, oh why, didn't Kim want pie? Laughing
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 5:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, #1, the world has moved on a bit while Betty hasn't completely. If I were buying something now it would be a silicone cake pan. Neither dark nor shiny, they have a matte finish that performs very well. You can make do with a single one if you're comfortable splitting the cake into two halves for filling OR having a thicker single layer. BUT, put it/them on a baking sheet so that heavy, liquid batter doesn't overwhelm the malleable container and go kamakazi on you! Shocked

#2, I wouldn't use waxed paper to line the pan. I'd use parchment paper. You won't have an exchange of flavors. And I do use a spray oil and a bottom liner and then another spray on the paper. I don't worry about the sides much because the silicone releases the cake and allows the sides to pull away as the moisture evaporates and the mass shrinks somewhat. So, basically, with a paper liner, no flouring of the pan is necessary.

#3 Depending on what type of cake it is, you can skip or simplify the sifting thingie. If it's going to be something that's more dense, by design, like a spice cake or a carrot cake, you can stir up the flour in the bag/canister/whatever, lightly spoon it into your dry measure and level it off. Then put all your dry ingredients into the bowl and whisk through them to combine well before you add the wet ingredients. This enables you to do a lot less agitating when the the wet & dry are combined. And this, in turn, helps you achieve a more tender cake because you've avoided developing gluten strands. Important PS: make sure you're NOT using high-protein or "bread" flour. Cake flour is best. All-purpose will do nicely.

If you're going for a very light cake like genoise, angel food, etc. multiple siftings ensure no lumps that don't get combined when you fold in and also the minimum amount of folding so as not to deflate egg whites. This is extremely important for these most tender cakes. And cake flour is a very big plus for these cakes.

When you do all this sifting, the easiest way I've found is to do it on one of those coverstock-thin flexible cutting mats. When you're ready to incorporate the flour, it's firm enough to be handled easily and malleable enough to allow you to create a spout to direct the dry ingredients.

You didn't ask but if you're frosting/decorating this cake, do yourself a favor and get some round cardboard cake circles. Wilton makes 8", 9" and several larger sizes and they're easy to find in a Michael's craft store even if you don't have a cake specialty shop. They're not expensive and make the whole handling/frosting/serving process go much more smoothly.

What are you baking? She's a lucky girl that you're doing this with her. It won't hurt a bit and you don't even have to taste it if you don't want to. Wink
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awww, you're a sweetie pie, Rainey, both for the compliment and the massive update on All Things Cake!

After we dug around in my Betty Book, she decided on making a Red Devil's Food Cake with Butterscotch-Marshmallow frosting.

Kim's had a wretched life; being bounced around from foster home to foster home, finally ending up at her adult sisters. She's 16 years old.

While I've been off of work this Winter, I've been reading so many books about "teaching young people to cook" , that I called Kim up and wanted to know if she wanted to come over for lunch and jewelry making a couple of weeks ago.

Little did I know, then, that Kim had ZERO cooking experience! I mean, she did not know how to measure flour, or peel an apple, or beat an egg! Shocked So, it's been a slow process of scrambled eggs, muffins, apple crisp and this past week, we made soup and my frittata.

Her boyfriends 17th birthday is in May, and more than anything, she wanted to bake him a home-made cake for his birthday. She turned to me with those "doe-eyes" that kids have, and I knew that I'd have to teach her how to make a cake.

But, like I said earlier, Rainey, I got all kinds of conflicting information (unlike pie baking) so I knew that I needed some serious help.

The silicone pans sound wonderful! I've seen them but haven't had an occasion to buy any; now I do.

And frosting, you ask? (I'm hiding my head in shame, for I hadn't thought of "frosting" the cake, in my question:

What are the cardboard rounds for? Do you put the icing on it and then use it like a painters palette to apply it to the cake? Do you stick it UNDER the cake? How does it aid in frosting cakes?

Man, looking at this, I sound like the person who's never baked!
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ejm



Joined: 01 Feb 2005
Posts: 51
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 6:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What Rainey said... with one exception. I have never oiled the parchment paper liner. And I've never had a problem removing the cakes from the tin. If we happen to run out of parchment paper, I use my mum's method: butter the pan then sprinkle in some flour. Tap the pan back and forth to spread the flour evenly. This works just as well as parchment paper. (But parchment paper is WAY easier.)

While I don't make cakes all that often, here are the cakes that I do make (and we think they're pretty good)

http://etherwork.net/recipes/cake.html


Dairy_Queen wrote:
What are the cardboard rounds for? Do you put the icing on it and then use it like a painters palette to apply it to the cake? Do you stick it UNDER the cake?


cardboard rounds?? There are cardboard rounds for frosting? (Now who sounds like someone who has never baked??)
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ejm: Wowzer! Those are some humdinger of recipes! Now, I could easily see myself making BOTH the carrot cake and the pineapple cake...mainly because they are cakes disguising as pies with all that fruit!

A great link! Thanks so much for posting it; I've already got all three of them printed out, even the White Cake.

I want to thank you guys for the help. It's just that cake was never served on the farm and when I started to taste cake, in my 12's-13's, at friends homes, they were dry and flavourless with icky frosting that reminded me of flavoured Crisco! Shocked Who wants that in their mouth? By this time, 1960's, all those Mod Moms were busy marching against Vietnam and for Women's Rights, so any cake they made were from Duncan Hines or other mixes. So, I don't think that there was even a chance, for me, of liking box cakes vs. homemade pies.

Then, in the 70's, it seemed the only cake I ran into was dry, icky, scraps of Wedding Cake....even MORE wretched than box mixes. The ONLY good wedding cake that I ever had was a carrot cake that my thrice divorced friend served in the 80's; she said she had "no more illusions of traditional weddings in her head!"

So, maybe with Rainey's silicone pans and ejm's recipes, I might bump cakes up a notch or two?!

P.S. Rainey: Do the pans come with "instructions?" There has to be some type of special care for them and I don't want to screw it up. Like, how much temperature can they take, how do you store them..... You had already said that they need a baking sheet under them, so that's completely different than what I'm used to doing.

So, when you come back, Rainey, illuminate us on Cake Cardboard and Silicone Care....pretty please...with cream cheese frosting on it?
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

#1 Cake cardboards are simply circles conveniently cut to be the same size as the cake layers. But they provide a strong, stable, nonsticky surface under the bottom layer so you can nudge and tweek it and, finally, move it from your workspace to the service plate or box. This might be particularly convenient if she plans to take the cake from where you guys are baking to the boyfriend.

When your layers are baked and cooled, you take a small dab of frosting and put it in the middle of the cake circle. Put the bottom layer, presentation-side-up, on the circle then proceed. But now you can stick a spatula under the sucker and make sure it does anything you want it to. I find this so much easier to deal with.

#2 Silcone pans are wonderful. The only prep they need is an initial wash to get rid of whatever manufacturing residuals there may be. Dishwasher is fine! The manufacturers usually recommend oiling them the first time you use them. Then they're supposed to be virtually non-stick. Personally, I use a light oil spray each time. Although they have good non-stick properties, they're not great and who needs the frustration of sticking or ripping?! A millisecond of Pam makes that a non-issue.

Silicone will take temps up to 500 degrees. Another "plus" is that they're flexible. This means you can really mangle and mistreat them (except for the tube pans as I discovered to my great disappointment). It also means that you can lift a pan with batter in it to find half of it in your hands and half headed south to the floor where that puddle of batter is spreading. That's why you put them on a baking sheet to handle conveniently and securely while the batter is wet. Once it's baked there's no prob. The baking sheet also means you're handling one thing instead of two.

#3 You're doing a wonderful thing!

I mentioned once before how concerned Early Childhood teachers are that even kids from "advantaged" homes aren't getting to see cooking done anymore. And there are several highly successful programs that teach at risk kids serious cooking because it gives them entrée to the whole world and serious income possibilities.

Carry on, kiddo! Wink But don't hesitate to ask if you have more questions.
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ejm



Joined: 01 Feb 2005
Posts: 51
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rainey wrote:
#1 Cake cardboards are simply circles conveniently cut to be the same size as the cake layers. But they provide a strong, stable, nonsticky surface under the bottom layer so you can nudge and tweek it and, finally, move it from your workspace to the service plate or box.


Oh!!! What a great idea. I always use the bottom of one of my springform pans as a base for the bottom layer. It's a little bit flexible so can be on the scary side if the cake is particularly tall.

Dairy_Queen, I hope you like the results of the cakes! A word of caution: the pineapple one has a very very moist texture. I gather it has something to do with the pineapple reacting with the other ingredients. My sister has altered the pineapple cake to make cherry cupcakes using canned sour red cherries instead of pineapple. She reserved a few of the cherries to place on top of the icing for each cupcake.

The carrot cake is easily the best carrot cake I've ever had. I will be forever indebted to the friend who gave me the recipe. And the black forest cake is killer. Who knows? You might be turned into a cake person.... Wink Very Happy

Lately, we've been baking only one layer of cake and cutting it in half to make a halfmoon shaped layer cake. It works really well if you are serving cake to only a few people and don't want left-overs.

Rainey, are those silicone pans the same as "silpat"? I've often wondered about them. They're not cheap! But if they're really great, they might save one a fortune in parchment paper.

-Elizabeth
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 3:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elizabeth- Yes, it's (more or less) the same material. The Silpat mats have a mesh of somthing embedded. The pans don't but, in the practical sense, they're the same material.

I bought mine a long time ago. I don't remember what I paid. I don't know that they're cheap tho -- if you use them 3 lifetimes I'm not sure you're going to be into the credit column with regard to parchment paper. But I like my round cake pan (I use one and split horizontally) and a cute little mini-bundt cum muffin pan.

I use a silcone muffin pan about half the time and a heavy metal one the other half. Still haven't decided which I like better. I use paper liners with both of them. I got a loaf-shaped pan for pound cake. BIG mistake. The sides are too flexible to hold the heavy batter. It bows out in an unattractive fashion. And I was broken hearted to discover I'd distorted a bundt-type tube pan. Now one side of the cake is much narrower and the other much more broad meaning that one side is aways overdone and the other underdone. I haven't found a way to jog its "memory" of what shape it's supposed to be. Shocked

But this doesn't happen with the plain round pan. It's a workhorse. I use it for cakes, biscuits, toasting nuts, all kinds of things. If expense were an issue, I guess I'd go for the Silpat first, but then I bake more cookies than cakes.
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ejm



Joined: 01 Feb 2005
Posts: 51
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just googled and am wondering if these are similar to what you have, Rainey:
http://store.chefmall.com/sibamo.html

They are MUCH less expensive that similar things I've seen at kitchen supply stores in town. However, the company does not ship outside of USA. (I've never quite understood this policy that I've seen on many many online shopping sites.)

Ooooh and they can be used on their own? When I saw the similar molds at the store, I had just assumed they were supposed to be used as liners for regular baking tins - in the same fashion that parchment is used as a liner... naturally, there didn't seem to be any instruction booklets with the items (that were astronomically priced)

What a drag that your tube pan is permanently misshapen!
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yup! It may not be the same manufacturer but it's the same concept.

The round cake pans work on their own. It never occurred to me to see if the loaf pan would work inside a metal one. But these days I simply use a metal pan with a parchment "sling" that goes from one side down the bottom and up the other side to good effect -- for me, it was the non-stick effect I was interested in when I first purchased silicone pans.

It was a bummer about the bundt pan but I only mentioned it to save someone else the expense and disappointment. Besides, the definition of the angles (same thing that makes metal pans such a PITA to grease & flour) on the silicone pan wasn't nearly as crisp and attractive. Sometimes you gotta make the effort if you want the results.... At 57 I still resist this truism but I can't evade it. Wink

Meanwhile, that's really not a bad price for that madelaine pan! The up-scale foodie store near me wants about $50 for a larger one. Shocked

It's a p*sser that that site won't ship north of the 49th. It's probably customs they don't want to deal with. But these things should be available in any kitchen store in a decent sized city around you. I started using silicone pans when I was living in Vancouver. As I remember, Canadian Tire was carrying a line of them as well as the kitchen shops.
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ejm



Joined: 01 Feb 2005
Posts: 51
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's either customs or they don't want to have to bother about GST. (Not that that should really all that difficult....) So much for free trade between the two countries, eh? Rolling Eyes

It never even occurred to me to try Canadian Tire!! I've been looking in the downtown kitchen supply stores (which generally have a notorious markup on just about everything).

Once the snow goes (if it ever goes), I'll do a little bike riding around to in search of reasonably priced silicone pans. I did find a Canadian online source which has not unreasonable prices but if I can avoid paying a shipping fee, all the better.

I'm planning on replacing my quickly wearing-out loaf pans. I make sandwich bread at least once a week and even with the parchment liners, the metal on the pans is getting really wrecked. I also love the idea of not having to use all that parchment paper, I do recycle it a couple of times but it tends to rip badly on around the 3rd time (think of the trees I'll save if I get silicone bread pans!)
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
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Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 2:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, Elizabeth! If you don't like using parchment paper you definitely don't need it for bread dough. I never grease a bread pan.

Do you slip yours out of the pan the last 5 minutes and let it brown up on the bottom and sides? I do. ...when I use a pan. I'm fonder of free-form loaves myself.
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ejm



Joined: 01 Feb 2005
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Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2005 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I LOVE parchment paper. I think it's wonderful. And if you saw the state of my bread tins Embarassed, you'd use parchment paper liners as well. The only reason I'm considering these silicone baking containers is that I hate the idea of constantly throwing away the paper. Sure, it gets composted but I still feel a bit prodigal when using it.

I prefer freeform loaves too for any of our dinner breads. But for sandwich bread, it has been decreed (and I have to say I agree) that the bread goes into tins. The sandwich loaves I make are pretty golden all over without removing them from the tins.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
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Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2005 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bee- So, did you bake it? How did it turn out?

Elizabeth- I was in Costco yesterday and they had a set of silcone pans that included 2 round cake pans, a muffin tin, a loaf pan, an 8"x8" square pan, a smaller rectangular pan and 2 silcone spatulas. The price was $20 US. Pretty good deal!

Do you have Costco near you? There were Costcos in Vancouver but they didn't necessarily carry the same merchandise.

I could pick it up for you. I don't think $20 US would trigger any duty. Let me know.
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 3:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rainey wrote:
Bee- So, did you bake it? How did it turn out?


It's been positively BALTIC in the Upper Midwest since last week, so I haven't had Kim over because I was worried that my truck wouldn't start, at night. However, we're "warming" up to 30+ this weekend, so I have a Cooking Date with her then.

No, I don't want to do any cakes with her, yet, because I want to buy those silicone pans you've been talking about and I can't find any that are less than an arm and a leg. However, when I was at Walmart on Saturday, the Housewares Manager told me that they would be carrying them, within the month!!! They've gotten tons of requests for them, they are on 'order', and they are getting them in by April. I figure that two tries with them, myself, will let me know how they work and then I can tackle them with confidence with Kim.

This week, we're making home-made tomato soup, deluxe grilled cheese sandwiches and baked custard....yum-m-m-y! As I said, Kim has NO working knowledge of cooking, or for that matter, most food....tragic, really. When I asked her last week if she'd like to make 'custard', the poor dear didn't even know what it was: had never heard of it nor tasted it. Man, what is the world coming to that you're 16 years old and you've never even heard of custard?! It's not like I askd her if she'd ever eaten Queen of Summer Pudding or some such.

Thanks for all the advice everyone! It will be so gratifiying for Kim to present her boyfriend with a 'from scratch' birthday cake. Very Happy

Rainey: I have another technical question for you....when I've read about frosting cakes, the books recommend cutting the top off of the bottom layer, so it's flat and the top layer will sit nicely on it. Do YOU do that? You didn't mention it, (loved the idea of the frosting on the cardboard round, though) so I'm just wondering about that technique.
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