Hello there, I hope you can help me with my son's birthday cake for Saturday. Seems like it is going to be more complicated than I anticipated. Please bear in mind I'm not a bad baker, but I am rather a novice as far as fancy cakes and decorating are concerned!
Main challenge: Large, dome-shaped cake baked in cast-iron wok.
DS has chosen a very cool moon cake, with craters and little monsters. You pop it on a board decorated as the dark sky with stars (fondant), cut craters into it, and frost it with kind of peaky white frosting. It's dome-shaped, so you bake it in a wok. Luckily, my wok is a perfect dome, 13.5" in diameter at the rim, and 3.5" to the very top of the rim at the deepest point.
Now, the recipe is for what seems to be a bizarrely small cake - 1 quantity of "quick-mix sponge cake", the recipe for which, in turn, is for 1 x 8" round cake. Doesn't seem like very much to me, so I was thinking of doubling or tripling it.
First question: how much for my-sized wok - double, or triple, do you think? And will a plain, light sponge cake recipe work if multiplied? Should I go for something denser?
Then there's the question of how I get a large, thick cake (that can't be layered) to bake evenly. An added complication is I'm in the heart of the Andes in Ecuador at about 8,500ft, so something to do with the altitude makes things over-bake or burn on the bottom of the tin (though apart from that the local cake flour works a treat in most recipes).
Second question: After a bit of googling, I'm thinking a vegetable can heating core, plus cooling strips around the outside (and of course, a longer bake time at lower oven temperature). I have never done either of these things, so some wok-specific advice would be appreciated. Am I on the right track?
Well, I also have some decorating questions, but I guess I'd like to hear your suggestions on the baking part first.
I REALLY appreciate your help a lot!
I have done a moon cake before but I baked normal round cakes torted, filled, and froze. then I carved the pile of cake into the half moon shape I wanted complete with craters etc. (remember when carving the craters to make them larger than you actually want them to be since the icing will fill them in a bit)
I would definitely use a metal flower nail for a heating core or a regular heating core if I was making it in a wok. I am not sure how you would use bake even strips around a wok... I would think they would just fall off. I would also reduce the oven temp by 25 degrees (eg 350 down to 325)
I can't offer much advice on baking at high temperatures... sorry.
Good luck with your cake. I hope it is a success!
I'm not sure how much help I can be but based on what you've said I would double the recipe and use a heating core to make sure it was cooked properly. As far as the recipe goes I don't know how much help anyone can be without knowing the actual recipe it could work but the details are what makes the difference. I say if you can, practice it. Test it using the tips you're thinking of and if it works great, if not make changes. Hope this helps:)
You can use your dish towles (wet) and safty pin them around your pan in place of cooling strips.
Thanks a million kvand and mamasmanna!
So, do you think a vegetable can would work okay as a heating core? I don't have a flower nail and it may just be that I wouldn't be able to even find one here. I did read that you could make your own out of foil, but veg can sounds a lot more convenient to me - do you think?
Right, kvand, about the cooling strips. I'm wondering (again, having never even HEARD bout these techniques before) whether I could try looping a few wet cotton towels around the wok and clipping them to the rim. More trouble than it's worth?
Thanks again, nice to get super fast responses!
thanks also, brat68 - are you thinking pinning the towels over at the top, or just pinning them somehow to the rim?
As for the recipe, mamasmanna:
1 cup cake flour
1tsp baking powder
4 oz butter
4 oz sugar
Can you see any reason why that wouldn't work if I doubled it (and baked it in a wok )? Obviously any cake that tastes good is fine by me. All DS cares about is the craters and the monsters and the stars and the glitter....!
Re the heating core substitute, I've found a little Hunt's tomato paste tin. Could work?
around the sides just like you would with the strips.
sorry to be dopey brat68, the wok is very dome-shaped, I think they'd just fall off? Unless I tightened them just a little bit over the lip of the rim - what do you think?
The cake sounds really fun . I hope you post a picture! I've never made anything in a wok but if it were me, I'd go ahead and use the tomato paste can. As for the baking strips...can you place the wok on a baking sheet and wrap your wet towels kind of like a nest around them?
I'm not at as high altitude as you are (I'm a little over 6000') but I'd definitely add 4 tablespoons of milk to that recipe and reduce the sugar by a tablespoon and use just 3/4 teaspoon of the baking powder.
Thanks Elcee, lovely idea on the nest, I'll do that.
Baking at altitude is so fraught - I spent about 2 years trying to master bread dough and gave up. Cakes are helped along here a lot by the local cake flour which really is very good. But to be honest, I'll be putting in less than half a teaspoon of baking powder, if that! Some people here recommend extra flour rather than extra liquid - who knows! Happily, I'm moving to sea level in the next couple of months so I can get back to easy baking!
You don't think doubling this specific recipe will create any problems other than the standard ones for a large, thick cake?
I've just started learning to bake bread in the last year or so. I never baked it when I lived at sea level so I haven't had any problems/nothing to compare to. I've heard the more flour advice, too. Are you high and humid? We're high and dry so we definitely have to add liquid, every time.
I've never had any problems doubling recipes. If you're nervous about it, though, you could make 2 batches separately and then mix them together.
Someone I know here recently baked a cake out of state (at sea level) for a family party and had a hard time readjusting!
Thanks, Elcee. High and very dry! I'm not that imaginative a cook - my success comes from no more than following recipes, which bizarrely a lot people don't seem able to do very well. Given that all my recipes are from sea level, I'm hoping everything will fall back into place when I go back!
So, I started off doubled the recipe (the concern there was about whether it would change the raising/cooking properties and make the recipe unsuitable), used all purpose flour instead of self-raising (a MISTAKE!!), didn't use any kind of a heating core, and came out with a rather dense (but very edible), tiny little dome cake that no way was going to meet the needs of hordes or ravenous 7 year olds.
So I started all over again, and QUADRUPLED the recipe so that it would pretty much fill the wok. Used the tomato paste can, and it STILL took AGES in the oven - I really don't know how long. But it's in the freezer now, waiting for some action. On to the frosting, and another thread! Thanks to all of you for all your help....
ATomato paste can? Is it empty? Do you think that would work for a regular shapednpan?
AKaylawaylalayla, yes, emptied and cleaned well. You would carefully remove it after baking, and fill the he with the little round of cake from inside the can. I think it would work in a regular pan. As a matter of fact, I may try it next time I make a large cake. I don't have a heating core so I use flower nails but they're not ideal.
AWow, that sounds awesome, people are so clever.