Frustrated With The Cake Bible - Vent

Decorating By tracycakes Updated 23 Jul 2008 , 9:30pm by tracycakes

tracycakes Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 2:16pm
post #1 of 29

When my hubby bought me The Cake Bible, I was so excited! Now, I'm just disgusted. I made one of the white cakes and was disgusted with the outcome but I didn't use cake flour. Last night, I made the chocolate butter cake, using cake flour, and followed the recipe to a 't'. Not happy with the outcome. icon_sad.gif

I checked it a few minutes before it was supposed to be done and it was already overdone. It's dry, it's too sweet, and layers are heavy and short. Oh, they are the height they are supposed to be but I am just not very happy.

Am I the only one who feels this way or have any of you found these recipes to be less than expected? I'm tired of wasting time and ingredients and they turn out poor.

Done venting now.

28 replies
Mike1394 Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 2:43pm
post #2 of 29

Bummer, cake flour will certainly make a difference.

There is another thread around saying they didn't sift before measuring. Did you sift before measuring?

Mike

dailey Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 2:48pm
post #3 of 29

you know, i've always said baking from scratch is a talent...one that i have yet to master! *but* saying that, i have had great success with the Cake Bible...i've tried *many* scratch recipes and my absolute favorite ones come from that book. they are moist and flavorful with the perfect density, but yes, they are finicky. also, you have to follow the recipe to a tee (which means you cannot sub. regular flour for cake).

tracycakes Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 2:49pm
post #4 of 29

Yes, I did sift the cake flour and measure like she said.

allydav Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 2:55pm
post #5 of 29

I didn't have the best success with the chocolate butter cake either, but the downy yellow cake is my favorite!! It's always a bummer to not have a cookbook turn out the way you want though. Good Luck!

3GCakes Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 3:02pm
post #6 of 29

I tried the yellow downy cake, and the minute it came out of the oven, it was fabulous. THen by the time my husband got home and tried it...it was dry and falling apart. I love the icing recipes in the book, but I have not had much success with baking from scratch. I also happen to like "hulking baroque numbers with plastic columns and insipid cupids" p. 211....hee hee....so I am taking the book back to the library today.

Ironbaker Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 3:08pm
post #7 of 29

Her recipes can be finicky but great if they come out right. I found using my scale worked best. Do you measure or weigh your ingredients?

My fav is the White Chocolate whisper cake.

pastrylady Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 3:10pm
post #8 of 29

I've been using The Cake Bible since it was published in the late 80s and have yet to find a bad recipe in the book. It's the book I always recommend to novice bakers.

There are so many places a recipe can go wrong: using AP flour instead of cake flour, if the butter is too cold before creaming, if you measure by volume instead of by weight it is not as accurate, if your baking powder is old you might not get enough leavening, if you over mix or under mix ingredients. Also, the times listed in recipes are just guidelines because everyone's oven bakes differently.

Also, I don't know if you usually bake from scratch or from a mix, but scratch cakes often seem dense and dry to those used to mix cakes.

I would give it another try. The way you describe the cake, as too dense and too sweet, makes me think that maybe something was not measured or mixed properly.

Good Luck with it...

PattyT Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 3:28pm
post #9 of 29

I've stopped using her cake recipes for the same reason as tracycakes. They never seemed to come out very well for me - and I do all scratch. There are easier, less finicky stratch recipes out there - David's Yellow Cake on this site is very good.

That said...the Oblivion Chocolate Truffle cake from that is easy and AMAZING. I make it all the time.

Also her frostings and fillings are worth having the book for.

CakesByLJ Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 3:32pm
post #10 of 29

*raising hand* another devoted fan to The Cake Bible here... pastrylady has some great tips to help.. and Ironbaker too... scaling your ingredients makes a huge difference, and having everything at room temperature works better for me also.. check the temp in your oven.. make sure it's not too hot.. mine works best at 340 degrees.. don't give up.. it's worth a few attempts, you will get it right..

summernoelle Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 8:53pm
post #11 of 29

The thing about this author is that she is anal. Seriously anal. If you have ever seen her baking show, you know what I mean.
Her cakes are so incredibly precise (and even have the measurements in grams listed off to the side in grams) that you have to follow it perfectly for it to work. This lady weighs her flour on a scale, and pinches off excress if there is .001 more in it than there should be.
I started out on this book, and always had good luck with it. You just have to be very careful.

tracycakes Posted 16 Jul 2008 , 4:26pm
post #12 of 29

I used to bake scratch all of the time and it just depends on how much time I have. I never had problems like I've had with these recipes. I measured everything perfectly, butter was at room temp, I even have a thermometer in my oven because I discovered a while back that my oven cooks 35 degrees low and I have to compensate for that.

I will end up trying a couple of other cakes that you guys mentioned and if they aren't any good for me, I'm going back to my Better Homes and Garden. I made the best chocolate cake out of that book.

I really enjoy cooking and baking and trying new recipes but if hers are that finicky, it might just be too much for me. I have enough problems at work with finicky people, don't want to have finicky cake recipes either. icon_lol.gif

I apologize if any of this comes out rude, really don't want it to. Having a really rough couple of days at work, besides dealing with some chronic health issues and I'm fearfully waiting on some test results. Guess I'm having my own little pity party. icon_sad.gif

Mike1394 Posted 16 Jul 2008 , 4:34pm
post #13 of 29

Did you cream the butter & sugar till white, and fluffy? You didn't bang the pans to let the air out did you?

Mike

pastrylady Posted 16 Jul 2008 , 4:47pm
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by tracycakes


I apologize if any of this comes out rude, really don't want it to. Having a really rough couple of days at work, besides dealing with some chronic health issues and I'm fearfully waiting on some test results. Guess I'm having my own little pity party. icon_sad.gif




I don't think you're coming across as rude at all. I think your experience just goes to show that baking is equal parts art and science. I once had a chef tell me that being a pastry chef was really just a matter of following a bunch of recipes (grrrrr). Obviously, it's a little more complicated than that.

I also wanted to say that I'm sorry you're having health issues...I hope you get the test results you are hoping for! thumbs_up.gif

tootie0809 Posted 16 Jul 2008 , 7:06pm
post #15 of 29

You are not alone. I have never had one successful cake from this book either. Mine are always dry and very weak tasting too. Some people absolutely love it. Some don't. I've had lots of success with Martha Stewart's recipes.

Lindakbh Posted 16 Jul 2008 , 10:01pm
post #16 of 29

I have to admit that I havenât done very well with some of the cake recipes in the Cake Bible. I think one of the things that throws me off is the 1.5 inch pans called for. I donât have any! I have a hard time understanding just when to remove the cakes from the oven.

I did see a really good tip in her blog, though, about chocolate cake. I donât have the book with me right now, so donât know whether it would apply to the recipe you tried: when you mix hot water with the chocolate and then let it cool, make sure to cover the container it is in or a lot of the liquid will evaporate and result in a dry cake. I always do that now, with any recipe that calls for hot liquid that is then cooled.

FYI: My new favorite chocolate cake is the double chocolate layer cake on the Epicurious site: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/DOUBLE-CHOCOLATE-LAYER-CAKE-101275

Donât give up! Iâm going to keep trying too.

PattyT Posted 17 Jul 2008 , 12:08am
post #17 of 29

tracycakes....I didn't think you were rude at ALL! In fact, I agreed with you 110%.

There are so many good - and more important, EASY - scratch recipes out there, if one doesn't work - move on!

Came home from a crazy day at work and sat on our deck last night waiting for DH to come home to start dinner. Nice July night, glass of wine and my Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. I put post-ey markers on at least three I'm going to try.

As I said earlier - her frostings and fillings are worth the book. And, if anyone makes cheesecakes...the raspberry sauce is GREAT.

Keep trying though - others have found success and she certainly has!

Franluvsfrosting Posted 17 Jul 2008 , 3:48pm
post #18 of 29

I've had pretty good success with the recipes I've done from the book. The chocolate butter cake is my 14 yo's favorite cake ever. You do have to follow to a T though. My oven never bakes to the time specified in recipes so I always have to be aware of how my cakes are doing. Even with the WASC cake!

tracycakes Posted 17 Jul 2008 , 11:59pm
post #19 of 29

Well, my work week is over - Hallelujah! I work flex (10 hours 4 days a week) and this has been a really rough week - feel like I've been beaten with a bat.

I appreciate all of your comments - yep, I did let the pans drop to get the air bubbles out. Maybe I should try again or try a different one. Not giving up yet. A co-worker and good friend is having a birthday next week so maybe I'll try a new cake and decorate with the gumpaste roses I made. I've got to take a picture of them though.

Hope you all have a wonderful Friday and weekend!

Mike1394 Posted 18 Jul 2008 , 11:04am
post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by tracycakes

Well, my work week is over - Hallelujah! I work flex (10 hours 4 days a week) and this has been a really rough week - feel like I've been beaten with a bat.

I appreciate all of your comments - yep, I did let the pans drop to get the air bubbles out. Maybe I should try again or try a different one. Not giving up yet. A co-worker and good friend is having a birthday next week so maybe I'll try a new cake and decorate with the gumpaste roses I made. I've got to take a picture of them though.

Hope you all have a wonderful Friday and weekend!




Part of creaming the butter& sugar is to incorporate the air. The air is part of the leavening process. As the air get hot it creates steam. The steam rises, your cake rises. The protiens in the batter will start to form, and when it cools these protiens hold their shape, and give you the structure your looking for.

Mike

tracycakes Posted 21 Jul 2008 , 2:47am
post #21 of 29

Thanks Mike! When I get brave enough, I'll try it again. I thought about it tonight but I was just tired and decide to doctor a cake mix using the extender.

-K8memphis Posted 21 Jul 2008 , 3:33am
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cakemom777

I tried the yellow downy cake, and the minute it came out of the oven, it was fabulous. THen by the time my husband got home and tried it...it was dry and falling apart. I love the icing recipes in the book, but I have not had much success with baking from scratch. I also happen to like "hulking baroque numbers with plastic columns and insipid cupids" p. 211....hee hee....so I am taking the book back to the library today.




Oh my God!!! I LOVE YOU!!! I was absolutely devastated when I read that, "hulking baroque number..." part. I mean I even looked up the word insipid--I was smashed to smithereens. Honestly I was gonna rule the world and do all scratch. And I too took that sucker back to the library and me & Betty kept on baking for years. "The cake bible" totally stunted my baking growth.

Another thing in her book that is not at well endorsed by baking peers is the baking powder thing. Jillions of bakers across the fruited plain simply multiply out any and all ingredients in recipes without going into the mathematical contorsions she advises concerning how to multiply baking powder.

And the sifting thing--wth--I mean her big paper or thesis or something I haven't read it in awhile was that sifting does not fully incorporate ingredients. I could never figure out why she thought that worthy of myth busting. Who did/does think sifiting fully incorporates ingredients? Clearly I ain't near as smart as her and I never thought that in my life. Somewhere in her book she says she became interested in her future husband because he thought that too. Whatever.

The recipes are wonky just to find all the information--you have to look into several areas to find pertinent information--like little notes in the margins for pan sizes and oven temps.

Many many people have found her cake recipes to be difficult to translate into anything good once much less consistently good.

Try Sylvia Weinstock's yellow cake--it about comes out white I just toss the eggs in whole, I do not separate the whites from yellows. I leave out a couple of the yolks though.

And you can't beat the recipe on the Hershey can for a great chocolate cake.

When you make a scratch cake watch for the emulsion to form--take it step by step but make it look like a cake mix in the mixer bowl and you got it.

Rose's flourless chocolate cake is good. Her icings get rave reviews but across the board her cakes do not. She has way too much atitude in her book to be called a bible. I do own it now, I bought an inexpensive used one but I keep it backwards on my bookshelf because she hurt my feelings so much. In fact it's at my kid's house so I don't have to look at it at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pastrylady



Also, I don't know if you usually bake from scratch or from a mix, but scratch cakes often seem dense and dry to those used to mix cakes.




And if any cake seems dense and dry then it's a crummy cake. I don't see the need to re-educate our palates to learn to appreciate dense and dry just because we might have previously been used to one kind of cake over another. That's silly. So our penance for eating cake from mixes is to choke down dense dry cake just because it's from scratch? No I don't think so.

edited to fix quote

tracycakes Posted 21 Jul 2008 , 5:59pm
post #23 of 29

I'm sooooo glad I'm not the only one. I've never had problems baking from scratch before but she made me feel completely stupid. If I have to work that hard on making a cake, give me box anyday.

I mentioned to someone today that I'm bringing cake to Wed. for a co-workers birthday and they said "it will be better than the last one, right?". That's a pretty sad statement on cake.

PinkZiab Posted 21 Jul 2008 , 6:18pm
post #24 of 29
Quote:
Quote:

This lady weighs her flour on a scale, and pinches off excress if there is .001 more in it than there should be.




This is the only way i know how to bake! lol

But seriously, other than one or two recipes, I don't care for most of what that book had to offer.

And on a personal level... boy does this woman love to her herself talk... about HERSELF. She was one of the guest judges for the final exam of my culinary school graduating class. Rather than give useful critique to the students whose products and showpieces she judged, she sat there for more than 30 minutes talking about herself, her career, her website... evidently she thought it was a promotional event or something. She didn't answer any questions or anything... one of my classmates wasin TEARS because she had no idea how she had done... it was a disaster.

kimblyd Posted 21 Jul 2008 , 6:38pm
post #25 of 29

Sorry if this is a stupid question, but I have to know for sure, Mike. icon_redface.gif

To bang or not bang the pans, that is the question.

Does this apply to box mix batter as well?

I have always dropped my pans on the counter and spun them around trying to get all the bubbles out like they are a bad thing. Should I stop doing this? icon_confused.gif

TIA
Kim

Mike1394 Posted 21 Jul 2008 , 11:09pm
post #26 of 29

I don't drop the pans w/ either. It's less evident w/ a box, but in a scratch you will see it more. Like I said earlier You work so hard putting the air into the butter & sugar why would you want to take it out.

Mike

-K8memphis Posted 22 Jul 2008 , 12:30pm
post #27 of 29

A much quieter idea for eliminating large holes is to run a butter knife through the batter in the pan back and forth.

kimblyd Posted 22 Jul 2008 , 3:07pm
post #28 of 29

Thanks Mike! Never really thought about that. My mom always dropped the pans, therefore I drop the pans.

My ultimate goal is to have an even cake that comes out of the oven taller than the edge of the pan, flat on top, with no holes, cracks, or crusty edges. (Whose isn't?)

Unfortunately, I still haven't figured out the perfect combination that works for me and my oven, but I have made so much progress with the tips I have learned on here.

I have to bake a cake for my sister's birthday this weekend and I can't wait to try your suggestions.

Thanks so much! Everyone is so nice to share... icon_biggrin.gif

tracycakes Posted 23 Jul 2008 , 9:30pm
post #29 of 29

hmmm...not dropping the pans. That has become a habit 1) prep the pans 2) mix the cake 3) put into the pans 4) wrap with bake even strips 5) drop the pans to remove excess air bubbles and 6) put into the oven. It's almost a habit. I'll have to try not doing that now and see how it works, especially on scratch cakes.

So, today, I bring in a doctored cake mix with raspberry filling and everyone raves about and wants the recipe. I tell them it's my secret recipe (that I got from cake central icon_biggrin.gif ). So, some of them finally admitted that last week's chocolate cake wasn't good. I knew it wasn't good because I threw cake away! That nevers happens! It was alllll gone today. icon_biggrin.gifthumbs_up.gif

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