Recipe Fail...adding Flour Mixture/liquid?

Baking By aces413 Updated 8 Mar 2011 , 7:09am by scp1127

aces413 Posted 3 Mar 2011 , 5:50pm
post #1 of 20

I recently tried a recipe I saw on a blog, and it came out horrible. Her pictures were good though! I think I know where it went wrong (and I knew it at the time, but followed her instructions anyway).
I creamed the butter and sugar, added the egg, and then ALL the flour mixture...then the liquid. Shouldn't I have alternated, beginning and ending with dry? The batter looked super weird, I think the ingredients were separating.
The recipe also stated to fill the cupcake liners almost to the top, which I did (knowing better), and they overflowed a bit.
In the end, the cupcakes started to overcook on top, but were super mushy inside...a little chewy, and overall inedible.

So...should I try again and go with my gut this time, or find another recipe?
Here it is:
1 ¼ cups root beer
1 ¼ tsps root beer extract
1 cup dark brown sugar
½ cup butter
1 egg
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsps baking powder


19 replies
yanci Posted 3 Mar 2011 , 6:28pm
post #2 of 20


I'm not an expert but it looks to me like the recipe has too much liquid based on the amount of flour and sugar and not enough eggs which it might account for the lack of structure. It also seam like it has too much leavening which might make the cupcakes grow fast and then explode. I would try adding one more egg and reducing the baking soda to 1/4 tsp which is all you need to control the acidity of the batter since you already have the baking powder which is essentially baking soda.

Like I said I'm not an expert... FYI, I have been learning to create my own batters and evaluate the recipes I find with a book called Bakewise. Its such a great baking resource. It covers everything from the flour type to the leavening and baking percentages.

Good luck...hope you cupcakes turn out great!

aces413 Posted 4 Mar 2011 , 2:33am
post #3 of 20

Thanks...I'll definitely look into that book! I've been wanting to learn more about the science of baking so I can avoid bad recipes...I'd like to create my own recipes as well.

The pictures she posted of her cupcakes looked totally normal...not like the mess I came up with. I'm not sure how that happened. Someone commented on her blog and said they made them and they came out great! I'm confused, I'm not sure if it's me or the recipe! I guess I'll try to tweak it like you suggested and see what happens.

Thanks again!

LindaF144a Posted 4 Mar 2011 , 3:02am
post #4 of 20

Before you change the recipe go with your gut and do it the proper creaming way. Add the flour alternating with the liquid in 5 parts starting and ending with the flour.

And no, I don't think the excess of liquid caused your problem. At least I would not tinker with that until you make it the proper way. I have learned not to change more than one thing when tinkering with a recipe. Because if it goes wrong, then which fix caused it to fail again.

And brown sugar will give you a richer denser cake too.

pmarks0 Posted 4 Mar 2011 , 3:22am
post #5 of 20

I'd do like LindaF144a and at least try the recipe the way you intended.

However, I did find a recipe on line for a scratch cake (many were using a mnix) that you might find useful to compare for proportions. I'm of the mind that you probably need another cup of flour for the liquid. I've never made this recipe, so I don't even know if it's any good either.

aces413 Posted 4 Mar 2011 , 3:23am
post #6 of 20

Good point...too many variables will make it impossible to effectively troubleshoot if it fails again.

I just googled and found a little Q&A where someone said this:
"One reason we alternate is because the buttery base of this type of recipe does not absorb a lot of liquid very easily.If the butter is forced to absorb to much liquid, probably from the eggs the butter can only hold so much liquid.. the result will be a separation of the batter. When this happens you will have a heavy cake. We begin by adding the flour first as it brings the batter together it helps absorb the excess liquids & prevents the batter from separating. The butter then clings to the bleached flour & helps the concoction not to become heavy or concentrated in any one particular way."

Despite the typos, they described pretty much exactly what I thought went wrong. I'll try again the correct way and see what happens. But I'm still interested in that book. icon_wink.gif

pmarks0 Posted 4 Mar 2011 , 3:23am
post #7 of 20

I'd do like LindaF144a and at least try the recipe the way you intended.

However, I did find a recipe on line for a scratch cake (many were using a mnix) that you might find useful to compare for proportions. I'm of the mind that you probably need another cup of flour for the liquid. I've never made this recipe, so I don't even know if it's any good either.

aces413 Posted 4 Mar 2011 , 3:33am
post #8 of 20

I saw that recipe during my original search as well, but was turned off by the cocoa addition. I suppose I could just skip the


aces413 Posted 4 Mar 2011 , 3:34am
post #9 of 20

I saw that recipe during my original search as well, but was turned off by the cocoa addition. I suppose I could just skip the


FromScratchSF Posted 4 Mar 2011 , 4:23am
post #10 of 20
Originally Posted by aces413

I saw that recipe during my original search as well, but was turned off by the cocoa addition. I suppose I could just skip the


I would not suggest omitting any part of the Smitten Kitchen recipe, especially since the cocoa counts for such a large portion of your dry ingredients. Cocoa also works as not just a flavoring, but levening, so I imagine of you took out the cocoa this recipe would fail.

As for the original recipe you tried, I suggest you stay away from random blog posters that don't cite the source for their recipes. You didn't post the link for the blog, but credible food bloggers normally don't re-post recipes without linking to the source (like Smitten did) so you can always double check the instructions they type. Anyway, I suggest going back to that blog, seeing if the original recipe is linked, and see if something was missed.

Next I would re-try the recipe but cream in the conventional method. Also watch your butter, if it's too warm it will make your scratch cake fail.

Good luck!


Narie Posted 4 Mar 2011 , 4:55am
post #11 of 20

This is another Root Beer cake recipe which looks "legit" to me. The one you cited doesn't look right. Root beer for the liquid and root beer flavoring? Two levening agents? It seems like an experiment that someone created by doctoring up another recipe.

LindaF144a Posted 4 Mar 2011 , 1:18pm
post #12 of 20

Okay, let's break this recipe down and get rid of some of the unscientific assumptions.

Your liquid, including the eggs should be equal or greater tha the weight of the sugar. Assuming root beer weighs the same as water, 8.5 for 8 ounces volume, then this has a weight of 10.25 ounces. The sugar weighs about 7.1 ounces, so this is in the parameter. Not all recipes have the two ingredients match to impart a little bit more moisture and to have the liquid help leaven from the steam given off.

Do not add 1 cup of flour. You will then have your flour weight more than the sugar. It will be dry and tough. You are throwing off the balance of tougheners and tenderizers in the recipe. You will get different, poor results.

The two leaveners are necessary because the sugar has molasses. The soda neutralizes the molasses, and maybe the root beer too. I don't know how much acidity there is in root beer the baking powder is there because too much baking soda will give it an off taste. The results you got from baking these does not sound like too much leavener.

And yes, I agree with fromscrstchsf, be careful where you get your recipes from. I would also add that even reputable places have bad recipes. It can be in the ingredient list or the way it is mixed. I just tried a recipe straight from a book and it bombed terribly. Her method mixing produced a coarse, bread like cake. I changed the process to a creaming method and got better results. Looking at ingredients alone is only half the way a recipe can be wrong. Do not discount how it is mixed. Every way of mixing produces different results with the same ingredients. I just spen three weeks testing every way there is to make a cake as you can. Each process produced a different cake.

I believe you hit the nail on the head when you said it was mixed wrong. Trust your gut.

Sorry for typos. I am responding on my iPad and I am pressed for time. I do notnhave time to go back and correct.

aces413 Posted 7 Mar 2011 , 5:18am
post #13 of 20

Yeah...I mixed it the correct way and it didn't work out this time either. I don't know how she did it! They were, again, way too soft and didn't look like her photo.

It's funny how you guys hit this on the head...the blogger "combined components from a few different recipes, and came up with this". None of those other sources were cited.

I don't want to say she created a bad recipe, but I printed it from the page and made it twice...and it failed both times. She got 2 comments from people who were happy with it, so idk, maybe it's me.

In the end, I actually did some doctoring of another recipe, and got the results I wanted. I made this other recipe before, but I couldn't taste any root beer flavor. So, that's why I was attracted to the newer recipe. Once that failed me twice, I went back to the original and just swapped out root beer syrup (I don't have it and couldn't find it at the store) for the same amount of root beer and 1 1/2 tsp root beer extract. Then I topped them with swirled root beer/vanilla frosting and root beer glaze. Awesome! icon_smile.gif

Root Beer Float Cupcakes--Baking Bites
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup root beer syrup* She suggested reducing regular root beer if you don't have syrup, but that still didn't give me the flavor I wanted, so I used 1/3 cup (actually a teeny bit less) root beer and 1 1/2 tsp root beer extract.
1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Add in one third of the flour mixture, followed by the root beer syrup. Mix in another 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the milk. Stir in all remaining flour and mix just until no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Bake for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean. Cool cupcakes completely on a wire rack.

scp1127 Posted 7 Mar 2011 , 8:01am
post #14 of 20

You are more diligent than I am. I have never made a failed cake twice. I move on. I have a time and money saving tip that has always worked for me. When trying a new scratch recipe, I go to the pros or I go to a site that rates the recipes. When I find a cake that is a proven winner, I make it. It will turn out right because of the favorable reviews. If it is close to what I want, I start studying other recipes and make a chart of the ingredients. I compare the recipes, then create my own. That way I know I started with a balanced cake and my changes keep the balance, but may put certain ingredients out front, and others in he background. Another thing I do, for instance with this cake, I already have a coca cola cake that is perfect. I can check the ingredients against a good recipe to hopefully find similarities.

FromScratchSF Posted 7 Mar 2011 , 8:31am
post #15 of 20

OK I have to admit I just checked out her blog and she looks talented, I think it must be a miscommunication of what she did vs. what she typed.

I also realized I bashed unauthenticated recipes on food blogs... but I've posted a few original recipes of my own on my blog. icon_redface.gif

Anyway, glad you got a recipe that worked for you.


aces413 Posted 7 Mar 2011 , 2:49pm
post #16 of 20

scp1127--I normally do go to the pros or sites that have ratings, but this time I wasn't finding what I wanted there. I wanted a root beer cake recipe that tasted like root beer, but I either couldn't find root beer cake at all, or what they had didn't seem like it would taste the way I wanted. I REALLY don't have money to waste on failed recipes, but I also really wanted this root beer float thing to happen. Haha. Oh well. But thanks for the tip. I'm fairly new to all this, so I don't know much about the science of baking.

Also, would you mind sharing the Coca Cola recipe? I tried a Cherry Coke one from Annie's Eats, but it tasted more like chocolate cherry than anything.

FromScratchSF (Jen)--Yeah, that's what I was thinking...and now your blog is bookmarked on my browser. icon_smile.gif I've actually been reading it for like the past 10 minutes. I'm supposed to be working out! Sheesh.

scp1127 Posted 8 Mar 2011 , 1:29am
post #17 of 20

aces413, I'll dig it out sometime tnight and post it.

aces413 Posted 8 Mar 2011 , 1:30am
post #18 of 20

awesome, thanks so much!

aces413 Posted 8 Mar 2011 , 1:30am
post #19 of 20

awesome, thanks so much!

scp1127 Posted 8 Mar 2011 , 7:09am
post #20 of 20

Coca-Cola Cake

2 1/3 c ap flour
2 c gran sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 c cola
2/3 c butter
2 TBSP cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 c buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c tiny marshmallows
1 recipe cocoa topping

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, gran sugar, and baking soda. Set aside.
In med saucepan, bring cola, butter, and cocoa powder to boiling over med heat. Add the hot mixture to the flour mixture; stir until just combined. Add eggs, buttemilk, and vanilla; stir until combined. Gently stir in marshmallows. They will float to the top.
Pour the cake batter into a greased and floured a 13 x9 baking pan. Bake in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Transfer cake in pan to a wire rack. Immediately spread the cocoa topping over the cake. Thoroughly cool before serving.
Cocoa Topping: In a med saucepan bring 1/2 c butter, 1/4 c unsweet cocoa powder, and 1/4 c cola to boiling. Add 2 1/2 c sifted powdered sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Mix with a wire whisk until combined. Stir in 1 c chopped nuts.

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