Cake Investigators-Please Help!

Decorating By mkolmar Updated 29 Oct 2008 , 3:39am by mkolmar

mkolmar Posted 26 Oct 2008 , 2:59am
post #1 of 17

My trusty old standby chocolate-coconut-burbon cake (by Colette Peters) failed me today. It was slightly dry and a kind of crumbly. I have NEVER had this happen before. I don't understand why but here are some clues.

I made the cake the same as always but instead of Bakers unsweetened chocolate I used a much higher quality chocolate that was Scharffen Berger.

My oven is running a little hot so I've been having to keep an eye on it with my oven thermometer.

I wrapped my cake up but somehow missed wrapping part of it well and there was about 3x2 inch section not covered at all. It was like this for about 24 hours. (Yikes!)

I normally do a simple syrup wash but this time I used a straight whisky to do a wash on my cakes. I did this 2x total.

Any ideas on why it was drier that normal?

The crumbling also was confusing to me. I have never had this happen before and I've been making this cake for 3 years. *I'm really disturbed by this because I might be having to use this cake for a plated dessert at a high-social event for 300 that I'm in charge of. I don't want this to happen again. I'm just starting to get a name and don't want to kill it.[/list]

16 replies
all4cake Posted 26 Oct 2008 , 3:08am
post #2 of 17

My first thought was the straight bourbon wash....I'd say it was the alcohol drying out your cake. This wouldn't be a problem if you plan on using it as a torte with a (mmmmmmm) creamy type filling or the like.

mkolmar Posted 26 Oct 2008 , 3:17am
post #3 of 17

That's what I was wondering too. I usually fill and cover this cake with a ganache. It bakes up in thinner layers so I don't think I'd be able to torte it though.
My DH just reminded me that the chocolate (the Scharffen Berger) that I used for brownies I used last week made the flavor unbelievable but they were also kind of crumbly but still moist. I'm thinking the chocolate along with some other factors may have been the perfect storm. Then again I have a few glasses of wine in me right now so anything sounds like a good reason icon_lol.gif

snarkybaker Posted 26 Oct 2008 , 3:22am
post #4 of 17

Scharfennbarger is a unique chocolate. It is unusually high in cocoa solids, especially compared to bakers which is very low in total cocoa solids for an unsweetened chocolate.

Either mix your Scarfennbarger 1/2 and 1/2 with somethning like Ghiradelli, or back off the total amount of choclate by about 15% and make the difference up in butter to get a fat/carbohydrate profile more like Bakers

Melvira Posted 26 Oct 2008 , 3:23am
post #5 of 17

Probably a combo of the bourbon wash, part of it being exposed to the air, and possibly the ingredients in the higher quality chocolate. Different types of chocolate of course have different cocoa butter content, etc. Sorry to hear of your trouble. That is always annoying when this stuff happens!

all4cake Posted 26 Oct 2008 , 3:32am
post #6 of 17

txkat, was that you(it's been forever ago) that responded to a query I made with the answer being a Tuxedo cake? That is what I had in mind when I said a (mmmmmmmmm) creamy type filling.

Ms. Melvira! How the heck are you???

I used Ghiradelli(?) chips last night for the first time....the 60% cacao(?)....oh, my word!!! I have never seen that much oil, ever, in any other chip when melted!!!! Oh, no, I drained it! If it's fat/oil content that you need to mix with the Scharfenberger(?)...that's the one to use! ugh!

Melvira Posted 26 Oct 2008 , 3:35am
post #7 of 17

I'm great, thanks!!

all4cake Posted 26 Oct 2008 , 3:53am
post #8 of 17

I found the thread txkat....that is an awesome cake! Biggest loser wouldn't be able to turn away from that temptation either! I know I wouldn't turn it down!

JanH Posted 26 Oct 2008 , 3:54am
post #9 of 17

Here's the nutritional breakdown for Scharffen Berger unsweetened (and other) chocolate bars:

http://www.scharffenberger.com/nutrHBB.asp

And for Baker's unsweetened chocolate squares:

BAKER'S Unsweetened Chocolate Squares
Serving size: 0.5 item(s) (14.0 g)

Nutrition Facts
Calories: 70.0 | Calories from fat: 63.0
Fat 7.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Saturated fat 4.5 g
Sodium 0.0 mg
Carbohydrate 4.0 g
Sugar 0.0 g
Dietary fiber 2.0 g
Protein 2.0 g
Key vitamins and minerals
Vitamin A 0.0 IU
Vitamin C 0.0 mg
Folate 1.28 µg
Calcium 0.0 mg
Iron 1.44 mg
Potassium 140.0 mg

Minerals:
Phosphorus 60.00 mg Magnesium 42.40 mg
Other:
Caffeine 29.00 mg

After comparing the charts, I don't think the SB chocolate was the culprit. icon_smile.gif

As all4cake said, the non-sugared bourbon wash didn't add the usual moisture to your cakes....

HTH

mkolmar Posted 26 Oct 2008 , 4:03am
post #10 of 17

Thanks everyone!!!!! I'll be going to be adding some more fat either butter of the Ghiradelli to the Scharffen Berger. I'll also be making sure and double checking the wrap job I do on my cakes from now on to make sure they are completely covered. I think I'll still use the whisky on this cake but mixed in as a simple syrup just to cover my bases.
I thought the chocolate might have something to do with it. I switched from Bakers to Ghiradelli and just switched from that to Scharffen Berger and Cacoa Barry. I've noticed some baking isn't turning out the same (only when I use the Scharffen Berger though) and thought I might need to add some more fat but wasn't sure.

*my good friend was suppose to get married today but her fiance changed his mind. A group of us took her out instead. I'm not use to drinking and my head is thumping right now. I was already tipsy once cutting the cake so I know I'm not thinking straight enough to figure out an answer. But I knew my cake buddies would.*
This cake looked so pretty since it was covered in a real pretty chocolate wrap design with chocolate dipped cascading strawberries plus chocolate pieces I cut out into triangles and also used to decorate the cake with. It got a great reaction at the semi-fancy restaurant we went to and the staff and other tables were coming around and asking me questions. When the first piece crumbled apart and the other pieces held but were still kind of crumbly and a little dry my heart sank. Thank goodness I also made a tradition French chocolate cake also.

Thank you so much everyone! This was really bothering me and now I have my answer. I love CC!

mkolmar Posted 26 Oct 2008 , 4:06am
post #11 of 17

Thanks for the chart JanH. I appreciate all you do on here.
I'm for sure going to stick with the regular simple syrup I use but I'll make sure to use some whisky in it also.

I used unsweetened chocolate --5oz.

Thanks again everyone.

Kayakado Posted 28 Oct 2008 , 4:46pm
post #12 of 17

when you change chocolates, you have to change the recipe to factor in the cocoa and cocoa butter amounts. One of the french chocolatiers published the formulas in one of his books, but I can't remember which one. I thought it was Jacque Torres but now I am not sure. I'll check at home and see if I can find it. Maybe someone else will know. I copied the formulas and put them somewhere, but can't remember where they are or where I got them, but at least you know there is such a thing.

I think it is Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme & by Dorie Greenspan

all4cake Posted 28 Oct 2008 , 6:20pm
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayakado

when you change chocolates, you have to change the recipe to factor in the cocoa and cocoa butter amounts. One of the french chocolatiers published the formulas in one of his books, but I can't remember which one. I thought it was Jacque Torres but now I am not sure. I'll check at home and see if I can find it. Maybe someone else will know. I copied the formulas and put them somewhere, but can't remember where they are or where I got them, but at least you know there is such a thing.

I think it is Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme & by Dorie Greenspan




I thought that was only if you were exchanging chocolate percentages not necessarily brands unless, of course, the brand you change to is significantly different from the one recommended in the recipe/formula but that shouldn't make a difference either...if the recipe called for say...bittersweet...bittersweet is chocolate within a certain percentage rate. If an exact percentage is required to attain optimal results, the formula should so state that... otherwise, I would assume that bittersweet chocolate...any in the range...would be fine.

If, however, you replaced the milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate called for in the recipe with bittersweet or exchanged chocolates outside of the range called for in the recipe, alterations of the other ingredients would be necessary.

I am in no way an expert. I will definitely take a look at that book. Thanks for sharing the info.

Melvira Posted 28 Oct 2008 , 6:27pm
post #14 of 17

all4cake, you are right, but if you check, you'll find that different brands can have different percentages and still be considered in the same category. It's not uncommon for one company's 'dark chocolate' to have significantly more or less than another. It's just another way to make us miserable and confused! Hehehe.

ETA: I think you're also right though, that (for example) bittersweet chocolate of any maker should fit a recipe and not cause that significant of a change!

all4cake Posted 28 Oct 2008 , 6:33pm
post #15 of 17

gee whiz! otherwise, seriously, it should specify. Unless, of course, that is the secret. You know..the secret ingredient that every recipe creator holds....."ancient chinese secret...hmmmm?"

Melvira Posted 28 Oct 2008 , 6:37pm
post #16 of 17

Hahahaha!! How do you get that laundry SO bright???

mkolmar Posted 29 Oct 2008 , 3:39am
post #17 of 17

Thanks. As soon as you find out tell me.

I'll keep you all posted since I'm making the same cake and the brownies that both kind of were crumbly. I'm going to add more butter/oil to the recipes and try to go from there. I've never had an issue like this with the chocolates I've used. Just this brands unsweetened chocolate. It gives a great flavor though so I'm not giving up. As far as it being slightly dry-I'm covering the cake better this next time and I'm going to use the simple syrup I normally do instead of the whiskey. I hope this helps.
I'll tell you all by TH. how it turned out.

Ancient Chinese Secret....you are all so crazy, but that's why I like ya!

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