I Think I'm Giving Up On Scratch Cakes.

Decorating By makeminepink Updated 11 Sep 2009 , 2:01pm by tx_cupcake

makeminepink Posted 11 Sep 2009 , 5:21am
post #1 of 12

I have baked several white scratch recipes and have yet to find one we like. Some taste great, but almost gag you because the texture seems so dry-- not overbaked though. I tried White-On-White tonight. Granted, I filled the pan too full and it overflowed in the oven. (That's a whole other post!!!) But it fell in the middle, probably because I filled it too full. I have tried WASC several times and am not all that thrilled with it either, it almost always falls in the center too-- even at 325, even with flower nails. The only thing that seems to consistently come out well is plain-old cake mix! The White-On-White tasted wonderful I thought, but my husband said he prefers cake mix! How many of you use undoctored cake mixes? I do have a scratch recipe I use for chocolate and a doctored one for strawberry. Am I the only one having problems?

11 replies
baycheeks1 Posted 11 Sep 2009 , 5:43am
post #2 of 12

Just keep workin on it...when the cake doesnt do right, just try again...try some different recipes find like some old ones, those usually do pretty good...I can make either, but I like to use cake mix and fix it..doesnt even taste like a mix...

Just keep tryin...

matthewkyrankelly Posted 11 Sep 2009 , 5:53am
post #3 of 12

I prefer cake mixes. Fantastically reliable. When I doctor them, it is onlt to tweak flavor. A little of this, a little of that. I do not like the basic Wasc recipe. The box mixes are there because they do work. Every time I make a scratch cake, other than Hershey's chocolate, I wonder why it can't taste like my great box recipe. I use DH Butter Golden with extra vanilla and a hint of nutmeg, just a scratch, so you aren't sure why it is better.

Is the scratch cake I make better because it requires a simple syrup to make the dryness palatable? The flavors aren't nearly as bright? or I didn't measure the flour and leavening?

It still has real eggs and butter and gets baked correctly. Bake what works and don't look back. Scratch or box, it is all good if you can make it work.

JanH Posted 11 Sep 2009 , 7:20am
post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by makeminepink

The only thing that seems to consistently come out well is plain-old cake mix!




Cake mixes are premeasured, and the addition of all those stabilizers and emulsifiers pretty much guarantees a good baked product, despite baker error (usually over or undermixing). icon_smile.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by makeminepink

Some taste great, but almost gag you because the texture seems so dry-- not overbaked though.




Quote:
Originally Posted by makeminepink

But it fell in the middle, probably because I filled it too full. I have tried WASC several times and am not all that thrilled with it either, it almost always falls in the center too-- even at 325, even with flower nails.




You're discovering first hand that scratch cakes (and doctored cake mixes) rely on the baker mastering basic cake making techniques.

How to measure flour correctly:

When measuring flour, do you use the "scoop and drag" method and then shake to level.... You should be aerating the flour prior to gently spooning it into the measuring cup and using a straight edge to level.

(Too much flour in a recipe will make the cake heavy and dry.)

When I make any of the WASC cake recipes, I sift all the dry ingredients together into a large bowl, and mix all the wet ingredients in a second larger bowl.

Then I add the dry to the wet and beat for 2 mins. using an electric hand mixer at medium speed.

If using a stand mixer, I would mix at the lowest speed for 2 mins. or less.

When it comes to mixing, MORE (as in more speed or longer mixing time) is not BETTER. Overmixing will develop the gluten and result in a tough cake. Overmixing will also cause a cake to sink.

Handy cake troubleshooting charts:

http://tinyurl.com/2p5bdu

http://tinyurl.com/32goqe

http://tinyurl.com/6c745g

http://tinyurl.com/6lpjww

If you'd like to improve your scratch baking skills (techniques) I'd recommend:

www.joyofbaking.com

HTH

sugarandslice Posted 11 Sep 2009 , 8:40am
post #5 of 12

JanH gives some really good advice. I'd say, stick with making from scratch until you find some recipes that work for you. I think that homemade cakes (ie scratch) taste soooo much better. And you know what's in them and you can make them as natural as possible. I use organic where I can and always, always use free-range eggs.
When you find a few recipes that work for you, stick with them!

Good luck,
Emma
icon_smile.gif

Bunsen Posted 11 Sep 2009 , 9:53am
post #6 of 12

I would recommend weighing your ingredients for scratch cakes, it's important to be precise with your measurements.

Also, I have just bought a Kitchenaid and I am finding it is very easy to overwork things in that - try a recipe you can do by hand or with a handheld mixer.

Your oven may be running too hot if your cakes are sinking, also make sure you don't open the oven door too much - wait until it has had almost the time specified (or you smell it) before you open the oven.

makeminepink Posted 11 Sep 2009 , 1:06pm
post #7 of 12

Thank you everyone. My mom actually taught me to measure flour the correct way and I don't always do it-- I know better! Thanks everyone for the advice. Last night was just so bad--- cake batter all over the racks and the bottom of the oven! I was a little stressed to say the least! The new oven at my daughter's shop has no window and I'm used to at least being able to peek in. I do know about smelling the cake though. I've noticed that there's no great smell until it's about done. I also need to use a timer! Thank you again for the encouragement!

tinko Posted 11 Sep 2009 , 1:26pm
post #8 of 12

I am a sucker for the book'' The cake doctor" By: Ann Byrn The recipies that come from that book are amazeing they will melt in your mouth. Plain cake mixes that taste just like home made with a few tweeks in the batter.. I would suggest any cake out of it for a great cake anytime...

Williamus Posted 11 Sep 2009 , 1:37pm
post #9 of 12

DON'T GIVE UP ON SCRATCH CAKES. ahhhhhhhhhhh! THERE IS NOTHING LIKE THE TASTE OF A WELL MADE SCRATCH CAKE FROM A GOOD RECIPE! (Try the cake bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. ) There are reliable recipes that are easy to make...they come out perfectly everytime...and there is a very good section on how to increase or decrease the recipes and adjust the baking powder to fit any pan size.

Mike1394 Posted 11 Sep 2009 , 1:39pm
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by makeminepink

Thank you everyone. My mom actually taught me to measure flour the correct way and I don't always do it-- I know better! Thanks everyone for the advice. Last night was just so bad--- cake batter all over the racks and the bottom of the oven! I was a little stressed to say the least! The new oven at my daughter's shop has no window and I'm used to at least being able to peek in. I do know about smelling the cake though. I've noticed that there's no great smell until it's about done. I also need to use a timer! Thank you again for the encouragement!




Mom taught you how to use a scale, right? Are you creaming the butter, and sugar enough? How are you incorporating the eggs, milk, and flour?

Mike

makeminepink Posted 11 Sep 2009 , 1:53pm
post #11 of 12

Mom did not teach me to use a scale, but I just looked up how much a cup of cake flour and a cup of g. sugar should weigh and will be weighing next time-- this morning. The flavor of the recipe-- the White-On-White was wonderful. The part that went over the edge --the crusty part-- tasted like a sugar cookie! I'll try again. My daughter just tried a taste and shrugged her shoulders and said she couldn't tell any difference-- said it was "fine"! My husband doesn't understand why it's important to me to have a good scratch recipe. I told him that I should just be able to do it! icon_smile.gif

tx_cupcake Posted 11 Sep 2009 , 2:01pm
post #12 of 12

The book "Cake Love" by Warren Brown is an EXCELLENT source for recipes and techniques for scratch cakes. He explains measurements and proportions in great detail, along with the scientific explanations for why certain methods work and others don't. I love love love this book!

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