What's Wrong With My Cakes?

Decorating By staceyboots Updated 15 May 2008 , 2:33pm by staceyboots

staceyboots Posted 8 May 2008 , 3:07am
post #1 of 18

Hi Guys,

So I got five (5) jobs for Mother's Day. I bake 2 white chocolate cakes and 1 lemon cake on Sunday and froze those, and then proceeded to bake 2 more lemon cakes last night.

I put the 2 cakes in the oven but unfortunately they sank terribly! So, I dumped those and started to bake again tonite and this time the cake wouldn't rise at all. The flour is fresh and I tested the baking powder (dropped some in a bowl of water and it fizzed).

I have tried this recipe many times before without any problem. Could there be something wrong with my oven? The recipe was based on the 123 cake in the Recipes Section and I have noted the ingredients below:

1 cup margarine
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 cups + 10 tbsps all-purpose flour
6 tsps cornstarch
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk
6 tbsps lemon pie filling
zest & juice from 2 lemons

Oh, the first batch was a bit oily and had the texture of cornbread.

Help, I am getting frustrated and on the verge of giving up.

Stacey

17 replies
kakeladi Posted 8 May 2008 , 4:07am
post #2 of 18

Sorry you are having such a problem and I'm no help at all. I just had to say this is exactly one of the reasons I don't bake from scratch!

JanH Posted 8 May 2008 , 4:30am
post #3 of 18

Here's a handy cake troubleshooting chart:

http://tinyurl.com/2p5bdu

The most common reason for cakes that fall upon cooling is overmixing, but there are others.

The causes of cakes not rising is more varied.

HTH

staceyboots Posted 8 May 2008 , 10:32am
post #4 of 18

Thanks for the link, JanH

I will buy an oven thermometer and check the temperature the next time.

I also read that the butter and the eggs being at the wrong temperature may be an issue. Should these 2 ingredients be slightly cold when making the batter? I let them sit on the kitchen counter to reach room temperature but I did realise that the butter was kinda soft when I placed it in the mixer.

JanH Posted 9 May 2008 , 2:39am
post #5 of 18

I've always used room temperature. (As long as the room isn't hot. Don't want melting butter.)

If I forget to take the eggs out early, I just place them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.

If using whole eggs, it should be fine. If making meringue it might be better if the whites really are room temperature.

HTH

thecakebox Posted 9 May 2008 , 6:09am
post #6 of 18

Did this recipe call for a creaming method? Creaming together the butter and the sugar creates structure for the cake so its possible if your butter was too warm it could have affected the rise. Butter should ideally be about 65-68 degrees, when you press it it should keep its shape but still be cool to the touch, hth.

thecakebox Posted 9 May 2008 , 8:51pm
post #7 of 18

sorry double post icon_smile.gif

Momkiksbutt Posted 9 May 2008 , 9:11pm
post #8 of 18

Are you sure it calls for "cornstarch"? I've never had a cake recipe that had that in it. A custard, or a pie maybe, but not a cake. That may well be the culprit.

Also, make sure you cream the sugar and the fats together before adding anything else.

Keep us posted on your results!

thumbs_up.gif

staceyboots Posted 12 May 2008 , 4:45pm
post #9 of 18

Thanks for the input, everyone!

I think that my butter was just too soft!

momkiksbutt, the recipe called for cake flour so I substituted with a mixture of allpurpose flour and cornstarch.

I was doing some research and I was wondering if the lemon juice could have an adverse effect on the baking powder. Here's the excerpt from wikipedia...not sure if I was interpreting the info correctly though.


Usage
Baking powder is most often found in quick breads like pancakes, waffles, and muffins. Generally, one teaspoon (5ml) of baking powder is used to raise a mixture of one cup (200-250ml) of flour, one cup of liquid, and one egg. However, if the mixture is acidic, baking powder's additional acids will remain unconsumed in the chemical reaction and often lend an unpleasant chemical taste to food. High acidity can be caused by ingredients like buttermilk, lemon, yoghurt, citrus, or honey. When excessive acidity is present, some of the baking powder is replaced with baking soda. For example, one cup of flour, one egg, and one cup of buttermilk requires only ½ teaspoon of baking powder -- the remaining leavening is caused by buttermilk acids reacting with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda.


[edit] Substituting in recipes
Baking powder is generally just baking soda mixed with an acid, and a number of kitchen acids may be mixed with baking soda to simulate commercial blends of baking powder. The most common suggestion is to use two parts cream of tartar with one part baking soda. Vinegar (dilute acetic acid), especially white vinegar, is also a common acidifier in baking; for example, many heirloom chocolate cake recipes call for a tablespoon or two of vinegar. Where a recipe already uses buttermilk or yoghurt, baking soda can be used without cream of tartar (or with less). Alternatively, lemon juice can be substituted for some of the liquid in the recipe, to provide the required acidity to activate the baking soda. During World War II, Byron H. Smith, a creative inventor in Bangor, Maine, created a substitute product for American housewives, who were unable to obtain baking powder, cream of tartar or baking soda due to war food shortages. Named "Bakewell", the product is still part of regional culinary history.

staceyboots Posted 12 May 2008 , 4:54pm
post #10 of 18

Thanks for the input, everyone!

I think that my butter was just too soft!

momkiksbutt, the recipe called for cake flour so I substituted with a mixture of allpurpose flour and cornstarch.

I was doing some research and I was wondering if the lemon juice could have an adverse effect on the baking powder. Here's the excerpt from wikipedia...not sure if I was interpreting the info correctly though.


Usage
Baking powder is most often found in quick breads like pancakes, waffles, and muffins. Generally, one teaspoon (5ml) of baking powder is used to raise a mixture of one cup (200-250ml) of flour, one cup of liquid, and one egg. However, if the mixture is acidic, baking powder's additional acids will remain unconsumed in the chemical reaction and often lend an unpleasant chemical taste to food. High acidity can be caused by ingredients like buttermilk, lemon, yoghurt, citrus, or honey. When excessive acidity is present, some of the baking powder is replaced with baking soda. For example, one cup of flour, one egg, and one cup of buttermilk requires only ½ teaspoon of baking powder -- the remaining leavening is caused by buttermilk acids reacting with ¼ teaspoon of baking soda.


[edit] Substituting in recipes
Baking powder is generally just baking soda mixed with an acid, and a number of kitchen acids may be mixed with baking soda to simulate commercial blends of baking powder. The most common suggestion is to use two parts cream of tartar with one part baking soda. Vinegar (dilute acetic acid), especially white vinegar, is also a common acidifier in baking; for example, many heirloom chocolate cake recipes call for a tablespoon or two of vinegar. Where a recipe already uses buttermilk or yoghurt, baking soda can be used without cream of tartar (or with less). Alternatively, lemon juice can be substituted for some of the liquid in the recipe, to provide the required acidity to activate the baking soda. During World War II, Byron H. Smith, a creative inventor in Bangor, Maine, created a substitute product for American housewives, who were unable to obtain baking powder, cream of tartar or baking soda due to war food shortages. Named "Bakewell", the product is still part of regional culinary history.

Cakebelle Posted 12 May 2008 , 5:27pm
post #11 of 18

I hope this helps, staceyboots, but when there is an acid present- in this case lemon juice, it's suggested that you also use an alkaline such as baking soda to neutralize it somewhat. Another thing I wanted to know was, your recipe says- juice from 2 lemons- do you measure this or do you just juice 2 lemons? because no 2 lemons will yield the same amount of juice even the acidity will vary, so maybe there was a bit more juice than needed? That's what was happening in my lemon cakes too, and for this reason alone, I have started to susititute lemon juice with lemon extract and double the lemon zest.
Good luck next time.

HTH
~Vicky

staceyboots Posted 12 May 2008 , 11:50pm
post #12 of 18

thanks cakebelle!!

well...the recipe did actually call for 2 Tbsps of fresh lemon juice and I squeezed the juice from 2 entire lemons into the batter without measuring icon_redface.gif

My Mum even suggested that I drop the lemon juice from the recipe and just use a high-quality lemon extract and zest like what you did...I may even use lemon pie filling instead.

I keep everyone posted on the results of my next test kitchen session icon_smile.gif

thanks everyone!!!

Guera Posted 13 May 2008 , 12:31am
post #13 of 18

sorry for my ignorance, but can you actually replace cakeflour with all-purpose flour and cornstarch? It's that valid and how do you make the proportions?

staceyboots Posted 13 May 2008 , 6:45pm
post #14 of 18

guera

yes...you can easily substitute cake flour for a mix of allpurpose flour and cornstarch. If the recipe calls for cake flour, the replacement is 7/8 allpurpose flour and 1/8 cornstarch.

Here's a link for a better explanation:

http://www.recipezaar.com/87689

Cakebelle Posted 13 May 2008 , 7:17pm
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by staceyboots

thanks cakebelle!!

well...the recipe did actually call for 2 Tbsps of fresh lemon juice and I squeezed the juice from 2 entire lemons into the batter without measuring icon_redface.gif

My Mum even suggested that I drop the lemon juice from the recipe and just use a high-quality lemon extract and zest like what you did...I may even use lemon pie filling instead.

I keep everyone posted on the results of my next test kitchen session icon_smile.gif

thanks everyone!!!




You're so welcome, yes do let us know how it goes.
Good Luck! icon_biggrin.gif

Mike1394 Posted 13 May 2008 , 7:47pm
post #16 of 18

As long as the butter wasn't melted. I take my butter from the fridge, chunk it up, and soften in the morcowave. I let my sugar, and butter cream while I get all my other ingreds weighed out. This includes separting 10 eggs. So unless it was melted I doubt that was the culprit. I would tend to lean more towards the acid in the lemon.

Mike

Guera Posted 14 May 2008 , 3:43pm
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by staceyboots

guera

yes...you can easily substitute cake flour for a mix of allpurpose flour and cornstarch. If the recipe calls for cake flour, the replacement is 7/8 allpurpose flour and 1/8 cornstarch.

Here's a link for a better explanation:

http://www.recipezaar.com/87689




Thanks a lot!!! for taking the time to answer me. I could never imagine it would be so easy to substitute cake flour. I live in Tijuana, Mex. and we don't have such a thing as cake flour. I always have to go to SanDiego, CA. to buy it and some times is a 1:45 to 2 hours waiting time to cross the border. Cake flour won't stop me from trying new recipes!!!!! icon_biggrin.gif Thanks again!!!

staceyboots Posted 15 May 2008 , 2:33pm
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guera

Quote:
Originally Posted by staceyboots

guera

yes...you can easily substitute cake flour for a mix of allpurpose flour and cornstarch. If the recipe calls for cake flour, the replacement is 7/8 allpurpose flour and 1/8 cornstarch.

Here's a link for a better explanation:

http://www.recipezaar.com/87689



Thanks a lot!!! for taking the time to answer me. I could never imagine it would be so easy to substitute cake flour. I live in Tijuana, Mex. and we don't have such a thing as cake flour. I always have to go to SanDiego, CA. to buy it and some times is a 1:45 to 2 hours waiting time to cross the border. Cake flour won't stop me from trying new recipes!!!!! icon_biggrin.gif Thanks again!!!




You're welcome icon_biggrin.gif

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