What Did I Do Wrong?!?

Baking By Wildgirl Updated 13 Jul 2011 , 10:05pm by Wildgirl

Wildgirl Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 5:25am
post #1 of 14

I just made Dawn's Vanilla Butter Cake:

http://cakecentral.com/recipes/16337/dawns-vanilla-butter-cake

The first mistake was that it must call for 3" pans, not 2". You should see my oven! On second thought, I don't want anyone to see my oven right now..... I'm surprised the smoke detectors didn't go off. icon_redface.gif

And of course it took longer to bake too since there was so much batter.

And then where I first poked a toothpick, there is now a dent.

I remember reading somewhere that newer cake recipes cannot "fall". I've never had a scratch recipe fall. And these cakes are totally flat (not that I want a dome, but that's more typical of the kinds of cakes I've made), but they appear to be "flattenable". icon_sad.gif

I thought I followed the recipe exactly - what did I do wrong? I'm desperate for a good infallible yellow cake recipe for an anniversary party next weekend - I'm really getting scared!!! Please help! icon_cry.gif

13 replies
scp1127 Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 5:44am
post #2 of 14

Wildgirl, cakes can definitely fall, especially delicate cakes and undercooked ones. I am very experienced and mine can fall. My oven malfunctioned the last time this happened. Some delicate cakes can fall if you check for doneness with a toothpick. I can't help you because I don't know the recipe. If you liked the taste, you will eventually get it right. Post the recipe and see if we can help.

JanH Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 6:19am
post #3 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wildgirl

I just made Dawn's Vanilla Butter Cake:

http://cakecentral.com/recipes/16337/dawns-vanilla-butter-cake

The first mistake was that it must call for 3" pans, not 2".



An 8" round pan 2" high holds 3-1/2 cups of batter,
A 9" round pan 2" holds 5-1/2 cups of batter

Wilton recommends that 2" pans be filled 2/3 full (which are the amounts recommended above).

How much batter did you put into your pans and how full were they?

When I joined CC and started making decorated cakes, I had to buy all new cake pans that had straight sides and were a full 2" deep (even though I had been baking for decades, those pans were obviously sized for cake mix cakes or small family size scratch recipes).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wildgirl

And then where I first poked a toothpick, there is now a dent.



Sounds like the cake was really underbaked when you tested it, so that it created a dent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wildgirl

I remember reading somewhere that newer cake recipes cannot "fall". I've never had a scratch recipe fall. And these cakes are totally flat (not that I want a dome, but that's more typical of the kinds of cakes I've made), but they appear to be "flattenable".



I've never read that, but whoever said it doesn't seem to have a lot of real life baking experience.... Now cake mixes are supposedly engineered to be almost foolproof - but I wouldn't put money on that either. icon_lol.gif

How old is your baking powder?

Measuring correctly is critical in baking. Do you scoop and drag to measure your flour? Then shake off the excess to level? If so, the traditional method is to aerate the flour then gently spoon into your measuring cup and level by pulling a knife over the top of the measuring cup.

And proper mixing is also critical. Mixing using a hand held mixer is not the same as mixing using a stand mixer.. When I mix using my hand mixer, I use a medium speed but if I'm using the stand mixer, I use low speed. (Of course, if the mixer motor is straining it's necessary to increase the speed to prevent the motor from burning up.)

But when it comes to mixing the batter ingredients and the finished cake batter; higher speeds and longer mixing times don't make a better baked cake. Rather an overmixed cake can be heavy, dense, tough, or chewy so only mix as long as the recipe recommends.

Also, what size eggs did you use? If not specificed, large eggs are the standard.

Great site for learning cake baking science and baking techniques:

www.joyofbaking.com

Handy cake troubleshooting charts:

http://tinyurl.com/2p5bdu

http://tinyurl.com/32goqe

http://tinyurl.com/6c745g

http://tinyurl.com/6lpjww

http://tinyurl.com/yay22w

HTH

mclaren Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 7:58am
post #4 of 14

Hi Wildgirl,

I've done Dawn's vanilla cake many times, and it always came out perfect. I followed the recipe to the T. I agree the batter does seem to be a lot, however since all of my pans are 3 inches in height, so I didn't have any problems of it overflowing.

I normally check my cakes with a skewer, and this cake didn't dent.

Hope you don't gicve up trying baking it again. Good Luck!

Wildgirl Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 11:14am
post #5 of 14

I appreciate your posts! I do have a lot to learn. I'll be pasting the cup measurements for the pans where I can see them - I don't want to do this again! I did follow the recipe to the t - used my stand mixer, mixed for as long as she said, even had my eggs and milk at room temp.

Ok, so I guess I chose a delicate cake - I'm terrified that when I go to make the final cake then that there will be a problem. Can anyone recommend a non-delicate, beginner's yellow cake recipe?? I figured that my worries would come with getting all my flowers to look good - not the actual cake (I figured that would be a "piece of cake" - sorry. icon_lol.gif )

vickymacd Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 12:13pm
post #6 of 14

JanH~ you amaze me with all the sites that you have in storage! No matter what the problem or question, you have the site for it! Thank you.

Wildgirl Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 3:38am
post #7 of 14

JanH - WOW - I finally got a chance to go through those links. Thank you SO MUCH - that is a huge amt of valuable info! icon_eek.gif

Wildgirl Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 9:05pm
post #8 of 14

Well, I decided to avoid the yellow cakes and bought one of Toba's books. Found a peanut butter cake recipe that looked simple enough. The batter was fantastic.... and at least it didn't drip out all over my oven.... but the tops seem a bit overdone while I'm not sure the insides ARE done. I guess I'll find out for sure in a bit, but I'm losing confidence.

My friends look at me as a great cook and baker. How can I be doing this? All of a sudden everything I do seems to fail!! How can I ruin a simple cake?! Maybe I should just get some boxed mixes. I now have only 3 days to get this right. I don't know if I should cry or throw-up or order a bakery cake.

Wildgirl Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 10:43pm
post #9 of 14

Ok, it did turn out ok afterall - just a tiny spot in the center is not completely done and the overerdone top got trimmed off anyway - and the flavor is really good. So now I'll have to see how it works in the 9x13 pan.

I can see how/why someone might feel like guarding special recipes -- it does take a lot of trial and error to find what works best. (but if you really want to know the peanut butter recipe I used I'd be happy to share - however I'm going to try another just to compare)

gatorcake Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 11:03pm
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wildgirl



My friends look at me as a great cook and baker. How can I be doing this? All of a sudden everything I do seems to fail!! How can I ruin a simple cake?! Maybe I should just get some boxed mixes. I now have only 3 days to get this right. I don't know if I should cry or throw-up or order a bakery cake.




Don't beat yourself up. From what I gather you have tried these two recipes for the first time. Have had more than one recipe come out "wrong" the first time due not being familiar with some of the techniques or simply knowing how the batter will react in my oven.

Seems like you have a good sense for diagnosing what would impact the recipe, make some adjustments and you will continue impressing your friends. It would be nice if we could get every new recipe right the first time, but this seems like an unrealistic standard. Just keep in mind that you are great baker

DH2008 Posted 12 Jul 2011 , 11:03pm
post #11 of 14

I would be interested in scratch PB recipe. My DH LOVES PB. You can pm me or post it here, whatevers good for you. Thanks. icon_wink.gif

Wildgirl Posted 13 Jul 2011 , 6:53pm
post #12 of 14

Ok DH2008, I waited to post the recipe because I was trying another one last night and wanted to see if it was better - and it was WAY better --
this one is sooooo moist and wonderful!!

I'm posting the recipe as it was printed, incl the frosting, which I have not tried:

Peanut Butter Cake and Frosting

1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 eggs
1 cup butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar


frosting

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
6 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

Change Measurements: US | Metric

Directions:

Prep Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 1 hr

1 Cake.
2 In large bowl mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. In small bowl mix eggs and buttermilk. Bring peanut butter, water and butter to a rapid boil. Pour boiling mixture over dry mixture and mix well. Add buttermilk and egg mixture. Pour into greased jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Cool.
3 Frosting.
4 Bring 1 stick butter, 1/2 cup peanut butter and 6 Tbsp buttermilk to a rapid boil. Add 1 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in 1 box powered sugar. Mix well.
5 Frost cake while frosting in HOT. Optional: drizzle with warmed hot fudge ice cream topping.


icon_biggrin.gif

DH2008 Posted 13 Jul 2011 , 9:24pm
post #13 of 14

Thanks Wildgirl. Stupid question. Did you hand mix or use mixer? Also I see it calls for you to pour batter in jelly roll pan, is it a sponge cake you roll up or did you use a regular pan? Thanks.

Wildgirl Posted 13 Jul 2011 , 10:05pm
post #14 of 14

I used a regular kitchen aid mixer. But I'm sure you could use a hand mixer.
And since I was just making this as a test cake, I just made the one pan and then cut it and torted it in 4 layers with a jam for filling. Chocolate would be wonderful too!

(and I used parchment on the bottom so I could dump it out of the pan - but you could just frost it and serve as a bar type cake)

I wound up re-organizing the recipe since the ingredients weren't in order - I'll post it here since it's been a mental help for me:

Peanut Butter Cake


1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup water bring to rapid boil
1 cup butter

2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk mix together

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar mix together in mixer
1 teaspoon salt


Pour boiling mixture over dry mixture and mix well.

Add buttermilk and egg mixture.

Pour into greased jelly roll pan.


Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Cool.

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