I Am Having A Hard Time Baking From Scratch,please Help!

Baking By tenleysmommy Updated 5 Apr 2010 , 12:24am by JaeRodriguez

tenleysmommy Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 2:09am
post #1 of 19

I have recently started to try scratch baking,but out of 3 recipes I have tried not had one sucessful cake icon_sad.gif
I used Sylvia Wienstock recipe,Davids Yellow cake and 1 other one that I cant find.
They all sunk when they cooled and broke coming out of the pan.They were very moist and yummy,but I am looking for a denser recipe.Is there something I am doing wrong?Or do I need a new recipe?Thank you!

Oh and I followed the recipe to the tee!


18 replies
Kitagrl Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 2:16am
post #2 of 19

I think you just have to find recipes that you like and that work for you....

Make sure you are putting plenty of some sort of cake release in the pan, and popping them out after only about 10 minutes of cooling....

dsilbern Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 2:17am
post #3 of 19

If they sunk when they cooled, I'm guessing they weren't cooked in the middle. Did you test them with a toothpick. A few crumbs at the most should stick to it.

Did the cakes cool in the pans? They should be turned out onto a cooling rack no longer than 10 minutes out of the oven.

Don't give up! We learn so much more from our mistakes than from our successes. And kudos to you for learning something new. You will get this. icon_smile.gif

tenleysmommy Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 2:23am
post #4 of 19

Thanks for you quick responces,I let them cool for about 10 min,maybe not that long.The tops were a little hard so I think maybe it wiped my stick clean.ANyone have a recipe they wouldnt mind sharing?

dsilbern Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 2:28am
post #5 of 19

I have a cookbook with 1 2 3 4 cake in it. It's the first scratch cake I ever made and its yummy. Unfortunately, the cookbook is buried in my closet somewhere. But it's a classic cake recipe so I'm sure if you google it'll come up.

I use a nice even layer of shortening and then flour and the cakes pop out out the pans nicely.

Good luck.

Lita829 Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 2:40am
post #6 of 19

We did this recipe as a part of a scratch cake bake off last year and it can be tricky. Was the butter and sugar creamed well until it was light in color and fluffy? Also, when the egg whites were incorporated, were they added in 3rds and fully combined where no streaks of white remained?

Don't give up on scratch baking. It is fun and rewarding when you master it.

Here are a bunch of scratch yellow recipes:



tenleysmommy Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 3:33am
post #7 of 19

I did not add in thirds,maybe that is some of the problem?Could I add more flour or another egg to SW recipe to make it more dense?Sorry for all the questions,but I love this recipe and just need to perfect it!

Lita829 Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 4:56am
post #8 of 19

Since it has baking powder and doesn't rely soley on the egg whites for levening, perhaps you could add the eggs in whole, one at a time, and not separate them. That may yield a denser cake.

I'd recommend trying one of the simpler recipes that use the cream (butter and sugar)-alternate (combined dry/liquid) method before tweeking a more complicated method. The key to success in scratch baking is learning the techniques. Once you do that, you will be able to just look at a recipe and be able to tell the flavor and how the cake will turn out.

Good luck and happy baking icon_smile.gif

Mrs-A Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 5:04am
post #9 of 19

i just wanted to pipe in with some support and hope you dont give up yet. ive been making a different cake from scratch every week and ive totally failed the RV cakes to the point i havent tried it after 3 failures but so far ive had more wins than losses. ive added bake strips, flower nails and oven thermometer to my equipment to help.

as Lita said above technique helps - i totally failed a ginger sponge the other day, tried it again but using different technique and wow, great cake


tenleysmommy Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 4:15pm
post #10 of 19

Thanks for all the suport and advice.Since my cakes bombed last night I broke out a box of DH and of course it came out perfect icon_rolleyes.gif ,but I swear I could taste the chemicals icon_confused.gif Maybe I am crazy,but growing up on box cakes I never knew how yummy a scratch cake could be,now if I could just get them to come out as nice icon_biggrin.gif
Thanks Again

rainbow_kisses Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 5:59pm
post #11 of 19

I would recommend trying a simple madera cake recipe to prctice your creaming and adding tecenique. Nothing fancy but it helps to learn when you have creamed the butter and sugar, then adding the eggs one at a time then adding the sifted flour and milk. don't give up it will come with practice and there is a science behind it and once you have mastered a simple recipe then you can move on to perfect the recipe you really would like to get down to an art.

MBHazel Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 6:22pm
post #12 of 19

Lost of people don't like to take this step, but it will save you a bunch of grief if you will get into the habit of lining your layer pans with waxpaper. (I do all my cakes with the exception of pound cake.)

Grease and flour the pans as normal and then place a piece of waxpaper in the bottom and batter goes straight on top of that. (just trace the bottom of the pan with your scissors and then cut it out)

When you flip the cake out just peel off the paper. (I peel it off while the cake is still warm)

This will keep the bottom from sticking.

As far as the sides go, make sure you let the cake cool abit beforing flipping it over, the cake structure needs to settle to keep from tearing apart when it is so hot. (Scratch or box)

Good luck!!!!

jennywenny Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 7:01pm
post #13 of 19

Dont use wax paper, use parchment. I always line my tins with parchment. I generally wait an hour or so before taking the cake out of the pan...

There are tons of scratch recipes out there, so you have to find one that you like.

Some favorites of mine are the confetti cakes recipes, and I also absolutely love the smitten kitchen buttermilk vanilla cake recipe:
A friend asked me to make a box mix, which I dont normally do (I'd feel the same as you do about making scratch cakes, I'd be worried it wouldnt come out right!) and I used this recipe.

As for technique, I hope I'm not being patronising, but its really important that everything is at room temperature, you must make sure to cream the butter and sugar for ages, then wait between each egg addition, also make sure to add the dry in 2 or 3 batches. Also, be sure to spoon the flour out if you're using measuring cups and dont scoop. Obviously weighing ingredients is far more accurate, even eggs, since they vary in size so much.

JGMB Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 7:07pm
post #14 of 19
Originally Posted by tenleysmommy

Thanks for you quick responces,I let them cool for about 10 min,maybe not that long.The tops were a little hard so I think maybe it wiped my stick clean.ANyone have a recipe they wouldnt mind sharing?

Try this one. It's so easy, and it always draws RAVE reviews:

Simply White Cake
(from The Complete Book of Baking by Pillsbury)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
½ cup shortening (I used unsalted butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 egg whites

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 round cake pans. In a large bowl, blend flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk and shortening at low speed until moistened. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Add vanilla and egg whites; continue beating an additional 2 minutes. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake at 350 for 27 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans. Cool completely. Fill and frost as desired.

Coconut variation: Stir 1 cup flaked coconut into the batter before pouring into greased and floured pans.

newmansmom2004 Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 7:38pm
post #15 of 19

I'm also one who uses parchment in the bottoms of my pans. I don't do the sides as I can always run a knife around the sides if needed, but I generally don't need to do that. I spray the entire bottom and sides with Crisco non-stick spray, lay the parchment on the bottom (cut to fit the pan) and put the cake on top of that.

Don't feel discouraged about the scratch cakes. I've tried probably 12 different white scratch cake recipes and they all stink. Either too dry, too crumbly, no flavor, etc. If I have to do a white cake I use a box and add lots of other things (sour cream or cream cheese, additional flavoring, extra egg, milk instead of water, pudding, etc.) and that's my white cake.

Keep baking!

Gefion Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 8:45pm
post #16 of 19

Generally problems with scratch baking does not come from the recipe, but from the baker. Like almost everything in life, it is a skill that must be learned. And I guess since you grew up on box mixes, you haven't been taught all the little tips and tricks to bake a great scratch cake!

A few important things to remember, in case you do not already know them:

- Always use room temperature ingredients. A cake batter is an emulsion, and mixing cold ingredients (like eggs and milk) into room temp ingredients (like butter and flour) will cause the batter to seperate. It will look grainy. This will yield a dry, crumbly cake.

- Always cream butter and sugar very well, for several minutes. Add eggs one at at time, and beat for at least one minute.

- Flour must be stirred in, never whipped or beaten. It will develop gluten strands, and result in a tough texture. Use cake flour if available.

- Bake at no more than 375 F.

- Be careful with the baking powder. Too much can cause the cake to rise rapidly and then sink. Recipes often use an enormous amount of baking powder, and I usually cut it in half. With thorough creaming of butter and eggs, you won't need several teaspoons of the stuff. Always test this on practise cakes though! Old cake recipes usually rely solely on creaming or whipped eggwhites to make the cake rise.

- Practise makes perfect!

Good luck! Scratch baking is an amazing skill.

jojo76 Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 10:04pm
post #17 of 19

keep trying, I was appalling at baking when I first started but so wanted to decorate, that I had to keep trying, Im in the uk, we dont really have the same tradition for box mixes here, though they are available, lots of people seem to bake from scratch.
I second scrummymummy's suggestion of Madeira Cake, I have a great recipe that you can actually just throw all the ingredients in the bowl, mix, and put straight in the tin, its very moist, and very tasty. I will post it if you like.

Some things that have helped me:
Line sides and bottom of tin
make sure oven is at right temp! Shut door gently so as not to waft loads of cold air in there!
Use correct size eggs.
Room temp butter
Do not over mix the batter, just mix enough for the ingredients to be incorporated.
Use the size tin that the recipe states (sorry I know thats obvious!)
Bake in the middle of the oven
if you are baking a cake that uses the creaming method, when you add your eggs, do them one at a time, as others have said, but also add a spoon of flour with each egg, it will help the eggs to bind with the mixture without curdling.
seive the flour before you add it.

keep trying and good luck!

Larkin121 Posted 4 Apr 2010 , 10:41pm
post #18 of 19

Completely agree with Gefion. It's all about the science. Save yourself the time and trouble of trying tons of recipes with various success and FIRST learn the science.

I cannot even begin to express how important books like "The Secrets of Baking" by Sherry Yard and "Bakewise" by ShirleyO. Corriher have helped with my understanding of baking.

If you just keep trying recipes, you are at the whim of the author - how well they explained what they consider to be basic baking knowledge. That recipe says to add eggs, but is it telling you one at a time? Is it saying how long to mix? That other recipe says to cream butter and sugar - does it say til it's doubled in volume and white in color? Probably not. There is so much more than this, this is just an example.

Get books like these and read them cover to cover - and then try their recipes and see what they mean. Try other recipes with the same techniques. Eventually you'll even be able to spot when recipes don't make sense.

JaeRodriguez Posted 5 Apr 2010 , 12:24am
post #19 of 19

Just a note- I've made the Sylvia Weinstock cake a LOT and every time I do the sides shrink in a bit and the whole cake kinda 'falls' a tiny bit too, or deflate a little, I'm not sure how to explain it! but make sure you're creaming the butter and sugar around 8 minutes, and that your egg whites are right and you're folding correctly and put them straight in the oven. This is a kinda finicky recipe but I PROMISE you once you master it it will be worth the wait! :] Stick to it!

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