Im not a baker. Not even close. Im trying though. I have been having trouble with my cakes being tough and overcooked on the outside and a little wet and doughy on the inside. I bake my cakes at 325, I dont use bake strips or flower nails, but I intend to make that my next purchase. I think Im having trouble understanding WHEN my cake is done. The last 4 layers that I baked, I checked the centers by sticking in a wooden skewer. i took all my cakes out when the middle came out with almost no crumbs. There were maybe a few teeny crumbs on the skewer, but it didnt seem wet. The top slightly sprung up when touched. When I torted it I saw that the middle was still slightly doughy and the outsides were well baked, and the crust was pretty golden and tough. Do you think the strips will help my problem? Or maybe Im not testing it the right way? Im so afraid of overbaking it because the crust gets so dark.
Ok on to the buttercream. I just recently bought 50lbs of a hi-ratio shortening. Its sooo different than grocery store shortening. I didnt realize how much of the flavor of my buttercream was coming from the shortening! When I use this shortening I find I have to use a lot more flavoring to make it taste like icing. Otherwise it is very bland and tasteless. Which, I guess is kind of cool. I can make it taste however I want that way. I know Ill get a purer flavor with this shortening.
When you use hi-ratio shortening as opposed to crisco, do you find you have to modify your recipes any to get more flavor? I used 2 tbsp of madagascar bourbon vanilla, 3 tbsp clear vanilla, and 3 tbsp butter flavor. That seems like a lot to me. Maybe Im doing something wrong again.
Also this is the first time Ive made buttercream that didnt smooth as well as Im used to. I made 3 batches with this shortening and they were all pretty much the same. A little bubbly. Not whipped enough maybe? Or is this normal for this type of shortening?
Bake even strips will definitely help. Definitely! You don't have to buy them though, you can make them yourself. With my round cakes, I do usually use a flower nail to help distribute the heat more evenly.
As far as the high ratio shortening, I know nothing about it. If you think you can flavor it, there is a product called Lorran oil that might work well. Why did you buy 50 pounds?
For the cakes, how long are you baking them for? What is the size pans you are using? And what I think maybe the chief problem, are you by any chance peeking in on the cakes (opening the oven door too much)?
For the buttercream, when you use hi-ratio shorteningas compared to Crisco, you're supposed to use half the amount of hi-ratio than Crisco. EX: 1 cup Crisco = 1/2 Hi-ratio shortening. The stuff really spreads more in the recipe than Crisco. The bubbles in the icing are due to the speed at which you mix the icing. High speed = alot of bubbles, low speed = minimal to no bubbles.
I dont know how long I bake them for, honestly Im guessing between 30 and 40 minutes? I baked two 9 inch and two 6 inch layers yesterday. You might be right about me checking on it too much. lol. I dont think Ive ever timed a cake in my life. I just always kept an eye on it and tested it. You have to test it to know if its done anyway, right?
Using half of the amount would make sense! The icing was soooo thick using the full amount. I had to add like 1/4 cup water just to get it to a spreading consistency. Maybe that is why it was so bland too. Too much shortening to sugar ratio?
EDIT: Oh and the speed might make sense. All I have is a hand mixer. Its warp speed no matter what setting its on.
Oh and how can I make the strips?????
I've heard of some folks using a towel wrapped around the pan. I can't say for sure because I don't use them... sorry.
Towels work great. Just cut strips off an old towel. I did mine about 4" wide so I could fold them in half. Make sure the strips are long enough to go around your pans. Get them wet, wring them out, and place around pan. You can pin them, but I usually just tie them as my strips are really long.
Do you have an oven thermometer? Your oven temp might be off, which could cause all sorts of baking issues.
I like to use a flower nail for any cake over 8". Looking at those pretty flowers in your avatar, I would bet you have plenty of flower nails lying around .
That's genious!!! Im sure I have some old towels...oh I can think of one right now. Im gonna go cut it!!!! Oh that's exciting to know I dont have to search for coupons or spend $30 on all those strips at michaels.
I only have two nails. A small one and a medium one. I have done most of my cakes at work and am just recently starting to do more custom stuff out of my home so Im still accumulating supplies. That's why I cant bake. LOL. Im a decorator, someone else bakes the cakes. Now I gotta do both. Geez. I think I need to hire my hubby to be my little baker boy. lol. ANYWAYS, Im gonna get some more nails.
Oh and in answer to the question about why I got 50 lbs of shortening? Well, I got a lot of jobs lately. I just had 4 in the last month, and I have 3 more confirmed orders for the next 3 weeks, and 2 more possible jobs as a result of those. Word of mouth has spread quickly for me. I live 2 hours from the cake store and it costs 9.00 for 3lbs of shortening. I figured Id buy in bulk because it was only $58 for 50lbs so Im saving a lot of money on shortening PLUS I dont have to drive so much to get some more. My hubby asked me the same thing.
About the buttercream. I have watched Sugarshack's video and it helps. She uses hot coffee creamer mixed in with the shortening before adding the sugar. I also like a little butter in the buttercream. Like 1 cup hi-ratio and 1 stick butter to 2 lb powdered sugar. I have tried using the French vanilla coffee creamer as the liquid and really like the taste. Again, boiling water to make up the coffee creamer in a 1-1 ratio. Then I mix it into the hi-ratio until creamy, then add the butter and mix until creamy, then add the sugar. Sometimes I need a little more creamer for the right consistency. I probably use about 1/2 cup liquid total.
I think everyone's given you excellent advice so far. I definitely think you should go to Walmart and invest in an oven thermometer (their pretty cheap). When I use my bake even strips (be it old towel or the strips I use the black metal binder clips) to pin them together. I would suggest you try to use your nose to tell when the cake is done. Don't check on your cake until you can smell it. As for the hi-ratio I think I've read on the forums somewhere that for every cup reg. shortening use 2/3 high ratio.
Here's the link where I read it (Janh's post)L
Pic of black metal binder clips:
I also use binder clips to attach my baking strips. I made mine out of the sides of a quilted crib matress pad (because the sides never got "dirty") I also cut four inches and folded in half and stitched them for double thickness.
Wet them with cold water and don't wring them out too much. The cold and dampness keeps the edges from baking so quickly so the middle can catch up.
It's true that you should not open the oven door until it's nearly done.
Thanks guys! You' ve all given me some great advice!!! Im very greatful and this gives me some great new things to try for my next order.
....well, actually no. My next order is going to be a baking challenge again I believe. When I made my drunken pig cake, I used two pyrex glass bowls to make the head and belly of the pig. I wanted to do this again to make the head and body of a baby cake for a shower. I had trouble baking in the bowls.
Anyone have any tips for me on how to bake in the glass bowls? I have no clue about how much to fill it, what temp to bake it, how long, etc. Last time I did it I had a little trouble figuring that stuff out and the cake came out ok, not great, but my MIL said it def wasnt my best cake. I know its getting off the original topic of my post but do you guys have any help for me on that?
I didnt realize how much of the flavor of my buttercream was coming from the shortening!
I found both Crisco and Sweetex to have the same bland flavor...
I think, perhaps the problem is that you're just subbing hi-ratio in your Crisco recipes. I tried that when I first got my Sweetex and it didn't work well. The frosting tasted fine (wasn't at all greasy), but it was too heavy (rich) with shortening which didn't make use of hi-ratio's superior performance qualities in a cost effective manner.
I have since only used recipes which originally were written for hi-ratio and have been extremely satisfied.
As hi-ratio can absorb more water (without breaking down) than Crisco shortening, it stands to reason that more flavoring would be required if you're subbing 1:1 in a Crisco recipe. I would recommend subbing 2/3 cup hi-ratio for every 1 cup of Crisco used or 1 cup hi-ratio per 7 cups of powdered sugar) and see if that doesn't make a big difference.
For the best results, I would highly recommend any of the following recipes in this thread:
Thank you! great advice. I didnt know there were recipes for hi ratio shortening buttercream. Im going to look at that thread right now. I didnt realize you have to use less shortening, so Im sure that is a problem.
I had a couple of gooey cakes but used flower nails as heating cores and that ended that...I don't bake in my glass bowls.. I find that my metal stainless steel bowls are closest to actual baking pans, and never have had a problem with them...Hope that helps.
Thank you. Anyone bake in the glass bowls? That is all I have on hand and I need to start this cake most likely tomorrow.
I've read that you should lower the temp by 25 degrees. So if you bake at 325 bake at 300 degrees instead. You might also want to add some greased flower nails too.
Here's some info I found when I googled it:
and a cc thread:
Oh wow thank you. I just read all of that. The CC thread has fantastic info. Im a little nervous about trying the bowl again now. lol. My MIL said the cake was dryer than the other ones she's tasted and I guess maybe using this technique is why. I really need to do it to get the effect I need though. I think Ill use the nails and a towl wrapped around it. Ill get some extra cake mix in case it turns out crappy. lol.
I know its getting off the original topic of my post but do you guys have any help for me on that?
For best exposure to answer your question about baking in glass bowls, start a new topic.