I Guess I'm Giving Up On Scratch Cakes...

Decorating By Pebbles1727 Updated 23 Jan 2009 , 8:29pm by SeriousCakes

Pebbles1727 Posted 20 Jan 2009 , 10:01pm
post #1 of 30

I'm just so disheartened. I've been working through WBH book trying out their scratch recipes, and all was going well until this weeked. I made two cakes, one butter chocolate and one butter white. Both I and my husband tested both cakes scraps and I thought they tested wonderful, moist and delicious. I was excited, it seemed that everything was going perfect... until I got feedback this morning. I was told that white cake was a little dry but the chocolate... chocolate was too dry, and by the next day, they just scraped ganache and truffles off of it to eat, because the cake dried out so bad and was uneatable. Urgh........... I'm just at a loss. I thought it tasted great but I guess I was wrong... I just so had my heart set on scratch baking... not that there is necessary anything wrong with cake box, I just always found the taste a little funny. It just seems like when I bake WASC or a variation of it, everyone raves about it and I think the taste is just off, not bad I guess, but just off. What gives? Is there a way to calibrate my taste buds? Just venting a little, thanks for listening...

29 replies
ladyellam Posted 20 Jan 2009 , 10:05pm
post #2 of 30

I'm so sorry, but I wouldn't give up if I were you. Maybe you could try and use a simple syrup to add moisture. I would try again.

OhMyGanache Posted 20 Jan 2009 , 11:23pm
post #3 of 30

I bake from scratch and HATE WASC. Make sure you spray your cakes with some cake syrup, and you should be fine.

__Jamie__ Posted 20 Jan 2009 , 11:38pm
post #4 of 30

Noooooooooo! Don't give up! Man oh man....the difference in taste between box and scratch...the WORLD! I had to use a box mix last week for an impromptu b-day celebration for some friends, and I gritted my teeth through the whole process! It takes some practice...but then again, so does brain surgery....so, keep at it!

cathyscakes Posted 20 Jan 2009 , 11:38pm
post #5 of 30

I think its because most of us were brought up on mixes, and that is the taste we are acustomed to. I too have baked many cakes from scratch and I can never get them right. White cake has always been a problem to me, it always tastes dry and floury to me, so my taste buds are acustomed to mixes. I think everyone has there own idea of what a cake should taste like, so you will never please everyone.

candee2300 Posted 20 Jan 2009 , 11:38pm
post #6 of 30

DO NOT GIVE UP. After you let them cool, wrap them well in saran and put them in the freezer for a couple of hours. Assemble your cake and it will no doubt be nice and moist. I use the recipes from the Cake Bible by
Rose Levy Beranbaum. I tell you, I never tasted cake until I made her recipes. They are so delicious. Don't give up, you can certainly do it!!!

JanH Posted 20 Jan 2009 , 11:38pm
post #7 of 30

I have been baking from scratch for over 45 years and just discovered doctored cake mixes. My favorite doctored recipe is the WASC cake in any flavor.

Scratch cakes will NEVER be perceived as being as moist as mix cakes - it's just the nature of the beast:

(Scroll down just past "Answer")

However, additional moisture can be added to the scratch cake layers by use of a simple syrup as suggested by PoleKitten.

Everything you ever wanted to know about making and applying simple syrups:
(Includes recipes and various flavor enhancing options.)



__Jamie__ Posted 20 Jan 2009 , 11:40pm
post #8 of 30
Originally Posted by candee2300

DO NOT GIVE UP. After you let them cool, wrap them well in saran and put them in the freezer for a couple of hours. Assemble your cake and it will no doubt be nice and moist. I use the recipes from the Cake Bible by
Rose Levy Beranbaum. I tell you, I never tasted cake until I made her recipes. They are so delicious. Don't give up, you can certainly do it!!!

Hear hear sista!

yelle66 Posted 20 Jan 2009 , 11:54pm
post #9 of 30

My opinion is that you shouldn't give up so easily. If you liked mix cakes, that would be different. And I hate WASC. My suggestions for improving on moistness would be use bake even strips on everything 10 inches or larger, make sure your oven is not on too hot and be sure to wrap cakes as soon as they are cool. Also, i've learned that if I peel off the parchment before wrapping the cakes, I like to see a really thin strip of really moist cake come with the paper. If the paper comes off clean I know I've baked it too long. And one more thing, if it got that horribly dry the next day, they obviously didn't cover it. Don't give up on scratch baking if you don't want b/c IMHO you can't beat a really good butter cake. Oh wait, one more thing, make sure you have good pans. I bought one of the cheaper Wilton ones and couldn't figure out why my 8's were coming out so dry but it was those darn pans. I replaced them with the decorator preferred wilton ones and it was amazing what a difference it made. I like magic line, sec preferred and fat daddio's once I put the oven on 300 like FD reccomends. HTH! Good luck!

Pebbles1727 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 1:14am
post #10 of 30

Wow, thank you for the responses. You guys are so supportive. Now I'm even more confused:
1. Good pans (Williams Sonoma)--check
2. Bake even strips -- check
3. Moist cake crumbs on wax paper -- check
4. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze -- check

I did not use a symple syrup, I did not feel like I needed to: when I and my husband tasted the cakes, I thought they were great. I guess that's why I'm so bumbed. I just don't know what in the world happened between me tasting it and them eating it. The cakes just looked and smelled so yummy. And it's the chocolate that I'm more frustrated with, not white one.

__Jamie__ Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 1:29am
post #11 of 30
Originally Posted by Pebbles1727

I just don't know what in the world happened between me tasting it and them eating it. The cakes just looked and smelled so yummy.

Any one of ten million scenarios like....

They left in the car for 5 hours while they went to get their bunions buffed.

They left it uncovered with the furnace blowing on it allll night.

They set it on a window sill so Betty Busybody next door could see it while she was raking in the yard...

I know, silly, but that's the thing. The customer could do all kinds of sillly things with the cake, things that to most people would seem detrimental to keeping a cake fresh! And then blame you for it...grrrr!

But, when the cake leaves your hands, as moist as can be, possibly with some syrup on to help...you don't have to sweat it when they possibly complain later. Nope, I know that cake was fresh because I follow a strict procedure to ensure it. I don't know...something like that.

yelle66 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 2:19am
post #12 of 30

Wait, were these cakes for the same person and is it someone you trust or a random customer? If you answer that they went to the same place and that it was for a customer and you did all the above things then I really think they are not telling the truth or that they did something ridiculous with the cake. I just can't believe that you did all those things and still had a dry cake.

stephaniescakenj Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 2:45am
post #13 of 30

I have to say I think it might be the recipes. I LOVE the WBH, the buttercream recipes are awesome but the cakes leave a lot to be desired. I would keep trying. Next time you need to make chocolate, use the recipe on the back of the hershey's cocoa container, replace the water with coffee and you'll never go back! It's so moist. I can't make any suggestion on vanilla because I haven't found anything moister than WASC... well in my case WRSC since I use rum extract in place of the almond. Your cakes were beautiful btw! icon_biggrin.gif

Pebbles1727 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 2:51am
post #14 of 30

[were these cakes for the same person and is it someone you trust or a random customer? ]

They were for different people, but both my coworkers. The one with strawberries got pretty good reviewes except for it was "a little dry as compared to the other cakes" I made, not "uneatable" as with chocolate. The lady who took the chocolate just said she wanted to be helpful giving me constructive criticism since I'm learning and not charging yet. It is still disheartening since I thought it was a really good tasting chocolate cake. It also had chocolate IMBC filling with crushed pb cookies and crumb coat and ganache all over under truffles and piroette cookies. Do you think one of those things could have dried the cake out?

SHogg Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 2:58am
post #15 of 30

I also have tried the recipes from the WBH and was not particularly happy with the outcome. I also found them to be dry. The women at WBH are incredibly talented but I don't use their recipes. When it comes to scratch cakes I have had the most luck with recipes from Martha Stewart.

BakingGirl Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 3:03am
post #16 of 30

I would try recipes from different books too, just to get a feel for different recipes. Bake several yellow cakes, chocolate cakes, etc, etc until you find one that works for you. Try them at the time of baking and then again after a day or two as well, just so you can see how the cake matures.

servingzero Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 3:13am
post #17 of 30

I'd agree with steph, and go with the Hershey's chocolate cake recipe. Seriously, delish! There's one on here called "Dark Chocolate Cake" (which I just realized the other day is exactly the Hersheys recipe) and since I tried it about a year ago, it is the ONLY Chocolate cake recipe I use. It's nice and moist, and I don't use a simple syrup at all.
Just be careful not to overbake your cakes. That would be the only thing that would make it really dry in my own experience. Once you start to smell it baking, it's normally time to keep a close eye on it. (at least, that's the way it seems with my nose!)

servingzero Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 3:14am
post #18 of 30

Oh, and a great vanilla cake that I found is the one in the confetti cakes books. I've had good results with her cakes (the carrot cake is soooo yummy too)

ceshell Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 6:47am
post #19 of 30

I'll third, fourth or fifth the suggestion to just try different recipes. There are several threads that can be found by searching on CC, such as favorite white/yellow recipes, favorite chocolate recipes, etc. I'm another person who has had problems with the WBH recipes but the Rebecca Rather white cake, oh dear me I'd crawl on my hands and knees to eat that cake, and normally I don't even bother with white cake (not worth the calories; give me chocolate baby). I had one friend beg me to do her DD's birthday cake because her shower cake was "The most delicious cake I have ever eaten." The first time I made the Fudge Brownie Cake people at the party told me it rivaled anything they'd ever had from a professional baker.

When you run through your "what went wrong" checklist and everything seems to be OK, don't doubt yourself, doubt the recipe! Keep trying til you find the one that works. Make 1/2 or 1/3 of different "recommended" recipes to experiment, that's what I do. Use the search engine here and type in "scratch white recipe" and check "all words" to try to track down some of those threads (I know they can be hard to find...I'll post some if I can track them down).

dailey Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 3:42pm
post #20 of 30

it *is* frustrating when baking from scratch because everything must be done correctly to ensure a great outcome. i always wrap my cakes while still warm in saran wrap, after they cooled they go straight to the freezer. and i have to disagree with jan, scratch cakes *can* be just as moist as box cakes, what seperates the two is usually the "fluffy" factor, if i used a mix, i always add heavy cream, buttermilk, etc. to give it more density as i don't care for fluffy cakes.

Pebbles1727 Posted 21 Jan 2009 , 4:04pm
post #21 of 30

Thank you all sooooooooooooo much! I guess I'm in for a weekend of baking, starting with chocolate as those are my favorites. Recipe of the back of Hershey's cocoa box --- got it! Fudge brownie cake... not sure about this one.. is it somewhere on here? Can you please point me in the right direction ceshell?
And I just did a search on white/yellow... and oh my goodness... it seems like an inormous amount of high rated recipes out there. I guess I'll be making those for weeks before I find the ONE.

Thank you all so much for your input and all incouragement.

ceshell Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 12:28am
post #22 of 30

Here's a thread with some chocolate cake suggestions. I link to the FBC recipe (in yet ANOTHER thread) from that one. http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=614849

Another chocolate cake thread http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=604926

Here is a great thread chock full of TNT scratch recipes http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=579499 --it includes a link to Part I of the thread (half of which was lost when the servers crashed last year...thus the need for Part II)

White cakes! http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=613384

Pebbles1727 Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 3:46pm
post #23 of 30


momofjil Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 3:55pm
post #24 of 30

What is WBH?

ceshell Posted 22 Jan 2009 , 6:29pm
post #25 of 30

Whimsical Bake House thumbs_up.gif

momofjil Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 2:29am
post #26 of 30

Thanks ceshell!

mclaren Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 9:11am
post #27 of 30

all my cakes were scratch (too expensive to buy cake mixes here) & i never had problems of cakes being dry. i've never brushed any syrups on my cake, so far.

please don't hang the apron on scratch cakes, maybe you just haven't found the right recipe.
& ditto on baking too long.

Homemade-Goodies Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 10:36am
post #28 of 30

I bake only scratch recipes (same reason as mclaren), and I too use the Hershey's recipe for chocolate cake, and the Magnolia Bakery vanilla cupcake recipe, using buttermilk, primarily. When making cakes, I wrap each up and refrigerate til I decorate later in the week. ALWAYS rich and moist after that.

However, when using same recipes for cupcakes, which I don't wrap & refrigerate, I find the cupcakes sooooo dry. I've started using simple syrup, but am terrified of making them soppy. I'm going to start hunting for a better recipe for my cupcakes...I haven't had any compaints or comments, but for peace of mind, I wanna try something different.

Don't give up Pebbles...you obviously enjoy the idea of baking scratch cakes, give it another go and see if you can find what works for you!! Best of luck!! ;D

Magnum Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 11:16am
post #29 of 30

I have used a cake mix only once. Not out of principal or anything, just that in the UK we don't have a wide range. So i only ever bake from scratch. I swear by sour cream in the recipe, it makes a HUGE difference. I got the tip from barefoot contessa, she uses it in her cake and muffin mixes and she's always taking about how it will make the end result INCREDIBLY moist and its true. I won't make a cake unless i have it.
I never measure it either, i just keep an eye on the consistency of the mix. I'm not a big cake eater but i have no shame in saying my cakes are freekin delicious and moist. I was a hater of fruit cake until i starting making my own icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif

SeriousCakes Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 8:29pm
post #30 of 30

I too am a huge fan of the Hershey chocolate cake. I recently tried it using some hot, strong coffee instead of boiling water and WOW, even better!!
Here's my recipe for yellow cake:
This cake is always so good, I like to swap out the vanilla for other flavorings, sometimes I'll add the zest of lemon or orange, etc.

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