What Happened To These Cupcakes?!

Baking By saffronica Updated 1 Oct 2010 , 12:42pm by vicki3336

saffronica Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 4:38am
post #1 of 21

After reading through the entire Yellow Cake Scratch-Off thread, I decided to give a couple of the highest rated ones a try. I loved the taste of the White on White recipe, but this is what happened:


(I had trouble uploading the pic into the thread, so I put it in My Photos.)

And it wasn't just the cupcakes -- I baked a 4" round, and the edges were about 1.5" tall, but the center was less than 1/2"! As far as I can tell, I followed the recipe exactly. I also made Sylvia Weinstock's Classic Yellow Cake and had the same problem, though not nearly as bad. What could have gone wrong? Any ideas on how I can fix it?

The White on White recipe I used: http://www.bakespace.com/recipes/detail/White-on-White-Buttermilk-Cake-with-Jack-Daniels-Buttercream/7175/

The Yellow Cake Scratch-Off thread: ( http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopic-633981-0.html )

20 replies
AnotherCreation Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 7:28am
post #2 of 21

cant see the pic!

LindaF144a Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 1:47pm
post #3 of 21

No doubt because it wasn't a photo of a cake, they won't let you keep the photo where you put it. Too bad, because it is the problem with the website that is preventing you from posting a photo in the first place.

Can you describe it?

And exactly how did you prepare the recipe? what mixer, how long did you mix it, what oven temperature?

LindaF144a Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 1:48pm
post #4 of 21

duplicate somehow. This site is acting up today.

saffronica Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 4:20pm
post #5 of 21

Yup, the photo was removed because it's not a decorated cake...a little frustrating because I tried several times to upload it into the thread without success, but I suppose that's the nature of the beast. I'll try again to upload it and see if it works this time.

Anyway, the cupcakes spread way out over the edges of the pan but sank a LOT in the middle. It almost looked like the batter spewed out like a volcano, leaving nothing in the middle.

I think I followed the recipe exactly: I whisked together the dry ingredients, then creamed the butter and sugar in my stand mixer (a Bosch). I don't remember how long it took, but it was properly creamed (at least I think so!). Then I added the egg whites and vanilla and mixed for one minute. Then I added the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk (3 dry additions, 2 wet). The resulting batter was beautiful. Then I baked them at 350*. The cake and cupcakes were delicious, I just can't very well decorate a cake that only bakes up 1/2" thick in the middle!

Thanks for your responses. I love having somewhere to go for answers in my quest to become a scratch baker.

saffronica Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 4:25pm
post #6 of 21

Okay, it's still not working. I just created a Flickr account just so I could share this, so hopefully this one will work!

My sad, deflated cupcakes: http://www.flickr.com/photos/53961915@N08/4986572883/

Thanks for your help!

matthewkyrankelly Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 4:40pm
post #7 of 21

I don't know, but in the Cake Bible, I think she wrote a lot about changing the leavening based on the amount of batter and pan size. Could be the problem.

LindaF144a Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 5:34pm
post #8 of 21

Your leavening would not create that mess. And in the Cake Bible she usually changes the leavening by such a miniscule amount. The wrong leavening would not cause this problem.

Usually this is a sign of too much sugar to flour ratio. This cake does have 16 ounces of sugar and 12 ounces of flour. Because it is made with just egg whites it could be so delicate that having that having 133% sugar over the flour could cause this problem. I am not a fan of egg white cakes only, so this is just a guess suggestion. But I would try knocking down the sugar to 12 ounces (1.75 cups) and see if you get the same results.

If you look real close to the photo accompanying the recipe, you can see that the center of the cake is caved in more than the outside, meaning this is a problem with this recipe. So try changing out the sugar, or better yet, find another white on white recipe. There are a ton out there.

LindaF144a Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 5:36pm
post #9 of 21

The other thing I wanted to say is that egg white only cakes usually have the egg whites whipped separately and folded in at the end. That is what helps create a fluffy cake. Without the egg yolks, there is no emulsion and whipped egg whites help create what it missing from no emulsion. So you might want to try whipping the egg whites too. And again, also try looking for a new recipe too.

But again I am not a fan of egg white only cakes, so as soon as I say this someone will find a 100 other recipes where the egg whites are not whipped. icon_wink.gif

saffronica Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 6:46pm
post #10 of 21

Thanks so much, Linda. I will try it again with less sugar. Do you think adding whole eggs instead of just the whites would help? I don't care if the cake is white, I just want it to taste good! Do you have a favorite vanilla cake recipe you are willing to share?

I hope to someday know as much about baking as you do. I wish I knew how to tweak recipes to get them just the way I want them. Where did you learn so much? Do you have any favorite books/websites/other resources for someone who is learning about baking science?

Thanks again. I'm excited to see if I can make this work!

LindaF144a Posted 13 Sep 2010 , 9:36pm
post #11 of 21

I have quite a few books I can recommend. Cookwise and Bakewise, both by Shirley Corriher, How Baking Works by Paula Figoni, Baking Professionally (this is a college textbook, can't remember the author) is another good book. and there is The Cake Bible that has to be read like a novel, not a cookbook as she puts little tidbits of information at the end of each recipe. The last chapter is a must read too.

Here are some websites: http://www.bakingandbakingscience.com/

http://chestofbooks.com/food/science/Experimental-Cookery/index.html scroll way, way down and read the part about cakes. It is an old book written in 1937, but it is good to read to understand cake baking anyway.

And here is an article Shirley wrote for Fine Cooking magazine:
And if you go to the Joy of Baking website, they have articles on eggs, leaveners, and other baking things related to cake that will help also.

This should be enough for a while to get you started. I'm sure there are other things I have read, but these are the ones I keep referring to over and over.

saffronica Posted 14 Sep 2010 , 3:03pm
post #12 of 21

Thanks so much for those links/recommendations. I'm excited to spend some time reading through the websites. The books might have to wait a little longer, but our anniversary is coming up, so it's time to start hinting to my husband!

I'm hoping to have a chance to retry this recipe soon. I'll let you know the results.

LindaF144a Posted 14 Sep 2010 , 7:35pm
post #13 of 21

This morning I was looking up something I'm the How Baking Works book and came across a photo of three cupcakes made with whole eggs, eggs yolks only, and egg whites only. The egg white only cupcakes were concave. Not as bad as yours, but still the same. It was to show at cakes do better with the whole egg for structure. I just thought I would let you know.

Have fun reading!

imagenthatnj Posted 14 Sep 2010 , 7:58pm
post #14 of 21

I agree you might be missing eggs in the recipes. And maybe a little bit more flour? I've seen the concave flourless cakes sometimes too.

I love the vanilla buttermilk cake in this recipe, which has lots of eggs, and more flour for structure.


AND, look at cupcakes #3 and #31 (flourless) here:


And, yes, less sugar. But why don't you make other recipes? That way you can see if those other ones work.

saffronica Posted 14 Sep 2010 , 10:27pm
post #15 of 21

Fascinating! Thanks for sharing the pictures of those cupcakes.

I have no problem trying other recipes. In fact, I've tried several, and so far this one tastes the best, which is why I'd like to make it work if I can. Maybe with more experience I'll be able to judge whether a recipe is worth trying by just reading it, but until then I'm trying to find a way to shorten the process of finding the perfect recipe. I enjoy baking, but I'd rather not have to bake 500 different recipes before I find "the one"! Also, I'd like to know what happened just because I like learning about this stuff, even if I do end up using a different recipe. I'll be sure to try the one you linked to -- if it tastes anything like the White on White, I may have a new go-to vanilla cake!

imagenthatnj Posted 14 Sep 2010 , 10:32pm
post #16 of 21

Shirley Corriher's "Bakewise" book has all types of answers to this stuff (as LindaF144) suggested. It's a great book.

saffronica Posted 1 Oct 2010 , 4:20am
post #17 of 21

I finally had a chance to try the recipe with less sugar. Just to make it even more complicated, I tried four different variations (all with less sugar): unwhipped white, unwhipped whole egg, whipped white, whipped white + yolk. They all baked up about the same; I couldn't tell much difference between them. Unfortunately, they didn't taste as good as the disaster cupcakes! I realize now that some of that extra sugar had started to caramelize on the pan, and that's what tasted so good. I still liked them, but they weren't amazing.

I also tried the Sky High Buttermilk cake recipe. It tasted very similar to the lower-sugar White on White, but it rose a little higher and had a nicer appearance. So for now this will be my go-to scratch recipe (glad to finally have one -- I'd been using doctored mixes but would really like to switch to scratch).

I am still curious, however, about why I had such a disaster following the same recipe that others had good results with in the Scratch-Off. Any ideas? Would the climate matter? It's hot and dry where I live, if that makes a difference.


imagenthatnj Posted 1 Oct 2010 , 11:15am
post #18 of 21

I love the Sky HIgh Buttermilk cake. It's the only one I make when it comes to a yellow cake. It's strong for tiers, has a tight crumb without being dense or dry. I have been baking from that Sky HIgh book for a long time and I love every flavor of cake there. Not so much her buttercreams and frostings because she's a chef and tends to make whipped cream frostings.

One of these days I'll try the recipe you tried and that's giving you so much trouble. I've heard so many good things about it, but I also have heard about trouble with it.

Could you check the ratios of flour, sugar, eggs, etc. in both recipes to see if they're similar to each other? Bakewise is fascinating for this stuff.

vicki3336 Posted 1 Oct 2010 , 12:14pm
post #19 of 21

The WOW recipe is my favorite vanilla cake recipe as well. I, too, had difficulty with it, but was determined to make it work because it just tastes so darn good. I got a few tips from Snarkybaker. She uses a modified version of this recipe in her bakery that she says has almost a "cult like following". I'll quote from the message she sent me:

"We bake everything to temperature. We use instant read therma pens to take the temperature of our cakes and don't pull them until they read 200. The creaming of this cake is very important. The butter needs to be cool room temp (65-70 degrees). If it is too soft, the texture is weird. Cream it until the butter and sugar are really light, add just the egg whites and beat it three minutes more. Then add the buttermilk and the dries alternately and don't over mix.

"We actually put the batter in the fridge, and I think it bakes more consistently when its rested a while. Try making your batter at night, and then baking your cake the next day. Bake it at 300 on low blower speed if you are working a convection oven. The cake doesn't feel done to the touch when it is done. Let it cool at least 15 minutes in the pan. De pan it and wrap it. Pop it in the fridge for a few hours."

With these instructions, I've been able to make the recipe work for cakes (at least most of the time), but never cupcakes.


tigachu Posted 1 Oct 2010 , 12:35pm
post #20 of 21

I do apologize for asking this but I have seen a reference made to the "Wow" cakes on this site before but I cannot find the recipe for it anywhere. Can anyone tell me where I can find it? I usually whip my egg whites for cakes that only contain the whites. I've only done this a few times, as I prefer batters with whole eggs in addition to the whites. Maybe try the scratch WASC (recipe and thread on this site).

vicki3336 Posted 1 Oct 2010 , 12:42pm
post #21 of 21

The WOW cake is the Rebecca Rather White on White cake. The link to the recipe is the bakespace link on page one of this thread. I'd post it for you again, but I can't figure out how to do so.

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