Why Is My Scratch Vanilla Cake Shrinking So Much?

Decorating By ladyonzlake Updated 27 Oct 2009 , 8:56pm by Deb_

ladyonzlake Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 9:35pm
post #1 of 27

I bake everything from scratch and I consistantly have problems with vanilla cakes. I've tried Sylvia Weinstock's, Toba Garrett's, and Martha Stewart recipes and get the same results.

My other cake recipes bake up fine but the vanilla cakes shrink about 1/2" on the tops which also takes away the height. They bake up great and look wonderful in the oven and as soon as I take them out....boom they shrink up instantly.

I do this proffessionally so I have quality pans and I do use a convection oven. This drives me nuts that my vanilla cakes look this way! I have to over compensate with a ton of frosting on my vanilla cakes.

Anyone have any ideas as to what is up with this cake? I use Sylvia's recipe mostly. Here are pics of my red velvet and my vanilla.
LL

26 replies
ladyonzlake Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 9:37pm
post #2 of 27

Here's my vanilla cake (Sylvia's recipe)
LL

sugarandslice Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 9:52pm
post #3 of 27

I'm sorry I can't help you with this but wanted you to know that you're not alone. I have exactly the same problem. The last 8" square I did ended up more like 7" once it had cooled. That's when I use the scratch WASC (but I make it vanilla instead of almond) from here on CC. And it's the vanilla cake I like the best; the flavour and texture are beautiful.

I do have another vanilla cake recipe that doesn't shrink and it uses buttermilk; I wonder if that makes a difference?!

Hopefully someone can reply with a solution.

lilthorner Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 10:04pm
post #4 of 27

i have used sylvia's yellow as well as the sour cream butter cake from the cake bible.. in both of those recipes I have this happen if I over mix it.. I thought it was problems with me doubling the recipe etc. but once I paid close attention to my mixing it stopped..

I bake everything from scratch also, and have been for years, so I can imagine the frustration..

ladyonzlake Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 10:39pm
post #5 of 27

I honestly don't think I'm over mixing but I'll try to watch that and see if it helps. Yes, I love the one with sour cream in the Cake Bible and it does the same thing!

I have used vanilla cake recipes with milk, buttermilk, and sour cream and they all shrink about 1 size and it's usually just the top that shrinks in and not the bottom of the cake.

I am so frustrated with the vanilla cake that I'm considering going with a box although I really don't want to.

I've tried turning my oven temp down, turning off the convection (although I love the convection since I bake a ton of cakes at once), I've increased the liquid, decreased the liquid...I am just stumped!

terrig007 Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 10:51pm
post #6 of 27

I have the same problem as well and I use Sylvia's too I will have to keep an eye on that mixing thing. It always shrinks about 1 inch both ways as well. But like you, I've also had it happen with Toba's, Martha's & Cake Bible.

Jeff_Arnett Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 11:09pm
post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by ladyonzlake

I bake everything from scratch and I consistantly have problems with vanilla cakes. I've tried Sylvia Weinstock's, Toba Garrett's, and Martha Stewart recipes and get the same results.

My other cake recipes bake up fine but the vanilla cakes shrink about 1/2" on the tops which also takes away the height. They bake up great and look wonderful in the oven and as soon as I take them out....boom they shrink up instantly.

I do this proffessionally so I have quality pans and I do use a convection oven. This drives me nuts that my vanilla cakes look this way! I have to over compensate with a ton of frosting on my vanilla cakes.

Anyone have any ideas as to what is up with this cake? I use Sylvia's recipe mostly. Here are pics of my red velvet and my vanilla.


Not sure what's going on with the shrinking. Try my recipe....It bake very high and I've never experienced any shrinking problems.

VANILLA CAKE

4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups sugar [use only 1 3/4 cups if you like a less sweet cake]
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1 stick butter
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 ºF.

Line three 7"/two 8" layer cake pans or one 9 x13 sheet pan with parchment or waxed paper, then grease and flour pans; set aside.

Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan or microwave safe bowl and heat until milk is hot and butter melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm.

Sift together flour and baking powder; set aside.

Beat eggs and sugar on high speed for 5 minutes, scraping bowl occassionaly.

Beat in vanilla.

Add flour mixture to egg mixture all at once, and mix on low speed, scraping bowl constantly until flour is blended in.

Add the milk and butter mixture, scraping bowl until batter is smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake until cakes test done, about 20-30 minutes.

Cool 5 to 10 minutes, remove from pans and wrap completely in plastic wrap until ready to use.

ladyonzlake Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 11:19pm
post #8 of 27

Oh, I am so relieved to hear others are having the same issue with these receipes. I'm tempted to email Sylvia and ask her because I really love her recipe and so do my customers.

Thanks Jeff, I tend to like the recipes with sourcream or buttermilk becasue I think they make a more moist cake but I am always open to new recipes so I will give yours a try!

CbyA Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 11:45pm
post #9 of 27

_Jeff_ is your recipe good for cupcakes? thank you!

Jeff_Arnett Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 12:02am
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by ladyonzlake

Oh, I am so relieved to hear others are having the same issue with these receipes. I'm tempted to email Sylvia and ask her because I really love her recipe and so do my customers.

Thanks Jeff, I tend to like the recipes with sourcream or buttermilk becasue I think they make a more moist cake but I am always open to new recipes so I will give yours a try!


This is a very moist cake....I switched to it about a year ago...prior to that I made a buttermilk white cake....this one is better!

Jeff_Arnett Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 12:03am
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by CbyA

_Jeff_ is your recipe good for cupcakes? thank you!


Yes

Deb_ Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 12:32am
post #12 of 27

I used to have this problem with SW's classic yellow cake until I switched to her new recipe which includes 1 cup of milk and I started taking them out of the oven when my fingerprint leaves an imprint in the middle of the cake, not when the toothpick comes out clean.

If I bake til the toothpick comes out clean it shrinks upon cooling.

HTH

ladyonzlake Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 1:30am
post #13 of 27

Where do I find her new recipe?

Deb_ Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 2:11am
post #14 of 27

Jacqui, here's a link. The "revised" recipe was in her new book "Sensational Cakes".

http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/ild/2009/cakes/yellow-cake.html

HTH

Deb_ Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 2:13am
post #15 of 27

Oh, I meant to say.....if you notice there is also the addition of 1/2 tsp of ginger. I tried it with the ginger and really didn't notice any discernible taste difference, so I leave it out.

ladyonzlake Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 2:42am
post #16 of 27

Yeah, I was wondering about that ginger. Thank you dkelly, I'll try it out.

ceshell Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 5:30am
post #17 of 27

Didn't people have trouble with that new version of the SW cake, back in the summer when we did a white cake Scratch-off? I'll have to dig up the link.

For what it's worth, I used to CONSTANTLY have the same shrinking problem with all of my white cakes, but not chocolate (all scratch). I inquired here at CC and checked other sites for troubleshooting. My Rebecca Rather W.o.W. Buttermilk Cake always looked EXACTLY like your photo - I had to factor in shrinkage and add more layers in order to get the correct # of servings.

Then one day I got a kitchen scale and decided to weigh the flour. Although I used the standard flour measuring methods, it turned out that by weight, I was off by at least 1/2 cup!! icon_eek.gif! Ever since I started using the scale, my scratch white cakes have come out PERFECT. Including the SW cake you had a problem with. (I have no idea why chocolate cakes resisted this problem, since I measured ingredients the same way.)

I know you said you tried decreasing the liquid but that still wouldn't account for the other ingredients...so you might try adding more flour instead. Of course if you already measure with a scale...well...then I'm stumped icon_redface.gif.

OK I found the scratch-off link. Ironically I actually talked about this same issue on p. 22 of that thread lol. Here's the page with my pics of the SW cake although I just realized I'd only baked it in cupcakes. Regardless, the issue is the same (meaning, when I had too little flour, they just shrunk right out of their wrappers so I clearly don't have that problem anymore). http://www.cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=633981&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=285 -- this link starts you on p. 20 of that thread but of course you can flip around to see the rest of the thread where people addressed the issues they faced with the upgraded +1c milk SW recipe.

terrig007 Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 10:39am
post #18 of 27

I leave the ginger out of SW cake. I made it one time and someone said they could taste it and they thought it was terrible. I made it for my husband to take in so I could get some feedback on it. So I leave it out as well. I will have to try to figure out about weighing the ingriedients. I always measure. Wonder if that is part of the problem. I will try the other recipe too.

Deb_ Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 12:27pm
post #19 of 27

Ceshell, you're right some people did have issues with the SW new recipe.

I do weigh all of my ingredients as I do with all of my recipes, not sure if that's the difference in the success of this recipe or not.

ladyonzlake.....maybe try the new recipe with just 1/2 the milk at first and then adjust as needed.

Also I sift then weigh/measure my cake flour.

vicki3336 Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 1:25pm
post #20 of 27

In my quest to switch to scratch only baking, I began weighing my ingredients. I discovered that weights of ingredients are not universally agreed upon. I have three different lists that show three different weights for a cup of flour, among other things. Do any of you know of a conversion list that would be considered the standard? Ceshell and DKelly, which list do you use or what do you use as the weight for a cup of flour and a cup of sugar?

ladyonzlake Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 5:17pm
post #21 of 27

Yes, I did stumble on the "cake off" blog and saw where someone said that the new reciepe was soggy.

Since I bake in large volumes, I have converted everything to grams and do weigh my ingredients. I base my measurments off of the Cake Bible weights and measurements. I find grams are easier to use than oz.

I email Sylvia and she suggested baking at 300deg as they do with their convection oven so I have some in the oven now. I'll let you know how it turns out...although I didn't have enough sourcream so I added whole milk to make up the difference. That might effect the outcome.

Deb_ Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 6:16pm
post #22 of 27

These are the weights I use.....keep in mind that everyone uses a different method of measuring/weighing flour and to me it's the most important ingredient in the recipe.....too much and your cake will be tough too little and it will cave. It takes a lot of trial and error to get the recipes we use perfect.....but once you do they're pretty failproof.

One cup of white flour weighs 120 grams.
One cup of cake flour weighs 114 grams.
One cup of sugar weighs 200 grams.

ladyonzlake Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 6:22pm
post #23 of 27

Yep, those weights look like the ones I use.

So I took the cakes out of the oven and whalla....they did shrink more than my chocolate cakes but they look way better! I put them next to the ones I baked yesterday and the size difference is amazing! I guess I'll be baking this recipe at 300deg.

Thanks so much everyone for your input, ideas and recipes! This has been driving me nuts for sometime!

Deb_ Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 6:55pm
post #24 of 27

Oh that's good that you had better luck with this one.

When I first used the SW recipe I used to measure my flour by the cup and then sift it....I realized after the "scratch off" that I wasn't following the recipe correctly... "2 1/4 cups of sifted cake flour".

I was actually using more flour then the recipe called for by doing it this way but it worked for me so I continue to measure/weigh then sift.

I've recently converted all of my recipes to weights in grams instead of cups and I'm getting much more consistent results.

ceshell Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 7:23pm
post #25 of 27

fwiw when I measure by weight I just use the weight conversion listed on the packages. That gets me the same as dkelly's results for ap flour (30g per 1/4c) but I forgot what it listed for cake flour. Probably 28g per 1/4c and that would match up mostly with the above amounts. Sugar for me for some reason is 49g per 1/4 c so that is nearly identical too.

terrig007 Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 8:34pm
post #26 of 27

Lady & DKelly, Well that may be part of my problem too! I would measure & then sift. Thank you also for the weight conversion. I will try that next time & see how if that helps. I will also lower the oven to 300. I don't have a convection oven though, do you think it will make a difference? I may just ahve to make a cake to try these new ideas out. How nice that Sylvia emailed back.

Deb_ Posted 27 Oct 2009 , 8:56pm
post #27 of 27

Terri, I don't have a convection oven either....I usually bake between 300 and 340 degrees depending on the size of the pan...larger the pan lower the temp.

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