Cake Cohesiveness - What Gives?

Baking By Shockolata Updated 12 Sep 2015 , 7:59pm by Pastrybaglady

Shockolata Posted 10 Sep 2015 , 4:12pm
post #1 of 24

Hi guys, I need your help. I baked a cake today and although it baked well and it was moist inside, when I cut the dome off and tasted it, I found out that it was breaking up in pieces. I was expecting it to have more cohesiveness, to be even a bit elastic as you try to cut it with your fingers. I have never had cake that broke in my hands! LOL I wonder what did I do wrong? I used the usual cake ingredients: self-raising flour, bit less sugar than flour, 4 large eggs, half the weight of sugar in butter, vanilla, lemon extract and a bit of baking powder plus my test material which is a grated vegetable and that provided the wet part of the cake. I have cooked with grated vegetables before without problem. The oven was set at 175oC, it was preheated, cake went in the middle and cooked in 50' (7 inch deep cake pan filled 2/3 of the way). The batter was pourable and needed a bit of straightening at the top before putting in the oven. I cooled the cake in its tin on a rack. Wanted to take it out but got distracted. The cake slumped a bit but maintained its shape. I guess I shouldn't have used the baking powder? Or maybe I should have cooled it upside-down? Anyway, it would be interesting to identify which ingredient gives cake its cohesiveness so the next time I try this recipe, I have better results. Please feel free to comment! :) Thank you.

23 replies
Pastrybaglady Posted 10 Sep 2015 , 4:35pm
post #2 of 24

My son used to have wheat and egg allergies.  When I tried to bake wheatfree without eggs and I got crumbly cakes. When I've made gluten free baked goods with eggs I've gotten crumbly baked goods.  So my conclusion is gluten is the binding ingredient that give you springy cakes.  If your cake was crumbly could it be you did not mix the batter long enough to develop the necessary gluten?

-K8memphis Posted 10 Sep 2015 , 4:41pm
post #3 of 24

yes and eggs provide structure too but what vegetable did you use that's a huge variable

Norcalhiker Posted 10 Sep 2015 , 5:52pm
post #4 of 24

my guess is the type of cake used contributed. Normally when adding vegetables to batter a poundcake works best: equal parts by weight of flour, butter, sugar, eggs.

also when I add any grated vegetables to a batter, whether  cake it a fritter, I first squeeze out the excess moisture by wringing the vegetables out in cheesecloth or a very clean flour sack dish towel. Some vegetables, line zucchini and potatoes are full of water  

zjones4 Posted 10 Sep 2015 , 6:15pm
post #5 of 24

Gluten will definitely add structure.  It can be the extra baking powder you added, it can be the veggie you used that created the crumbly texture.  Likely, it may be a combination.  

I exclusively use cake flour so I can control my leavening, flavors, and textures.  Try mixing a moment longer than normal.  The extra moment will develop the gluten more, adding strength.  Just avoid overmixing!

Shockolata Posted 10 Sep 2015 , 7:14pm
post #6 of 24

I did mix it quite a lot. Even though I put the flour in last, I used the beaters to make sure it got mixed in properly. The vegetable was mushed beetroot. Despite the batter having a vibrant dark red colour, it turned brown in the oven :( I have baked with carrot and butternut squash together and it was fine. I was scared not to use baking powder because of the beetroot. I thought it would be heavy. But because the cake slumped, or sat down a bit (not the dome though, how dare it!) I guess it fluffed up quickly and then the air went out. The crumb is fine and light. It is just the crust bit that seems to crumble the way dried earth patties crumble when you handle them (if you did that as kids ;) ) I thought about making a pound cake but every time I tried recipes, I ended up with a dense and non risen loaf. Which is when I began suspecting that self raising flour was not really self raising and that suspicion was confirmed by other bakers who had issues here in the UK.  Maybe I should have cooked it in an even lower temperature? I also did not use any bake even strips as I haven't got any and neither did I protect the top from browning too soon by placing a tray over it. Do you know what? Now that I said dried earth, I am wondering whether I did overbake the cake...

Jeff_Arnett Posted 10 Sep 2015 , 7:19pm
post #7 of 24

LOL...I love your reference to "dried earth patties"....over here we called them "mud pies"!  You need a bit of acid mixed with the beetroot to protect the color.  That's why when we make a red velvet cake it has a bit of vinegar added to the red food coloring...helps make it more stable.  Try a bit of vinegar or lemon juice mixed with the beetroot next time.

*Last edited by Jeff_Arnett on 10 Sep 2015 , 7:20pm
Shockolata Posted 10 Sep 2015 , 7:23pm
post #8 of 24

I used lemon extract. Thought it might be enough? Forgot to mention beetroot was cooked. Maybe cooked beetroot loses its colour faster? Now I see why Red Velvet cakes are done with food colouring. Question: had i added red berries and blackberries, would that have maintained more colour?

Pastrybaglady Posted 10 Sep 2015 , 8:03pm
post #9 of 24

55f1e219ef149.jpegI wanted to make a red velvet cupcake without food color.  After much research I found a recipe that used grated raw beets, raspberries, lemon and vinegar as well as buttermilk.  It was tart, but I like tart.

Shockolata Posted 10 Sep 2015 , 10:37pm
post #10 of 24

Oh drat! That is what I forgot! Buttermilk. Duh! That was the colour I was going for. Raw beets... hmm What did your cupcake taste like afterwards? Could you feel the pieces of the beets? Did it taste earthy?

Shockolata Posted 10 Sep 2015 , 10:39pm
post #11 of 24

@Pastrybaglady  what temperature did you bake your muffins at? In oC if possible as I am rubbish with fahrenheit. 

Pastrybaglady Posted 10 Sep 2015 , 11:36pm
post #12 of 24

The cupcake had a distinctive tang like raspberries to them.  I grated the beets and then pureed as best I could in a food processor to get it as smooth as possible.  There was a slight grit to it and it definitely had an earthiness to them.  I had forgotten to put in the vanilla so I put vanilla SMBC on top.  All in all I liked them but I like things tart.  It tasted nothing like red velvet so I renamed them ruby red cupcakes.  I wish I could find the picture of one cut in half, it was a beautiful color.  The temp was 177-180°C - 350°F.  From the article I read heat is the color killer that's why you start with raw.  Most recipes have you bake or boil the beets first, puree and then bake.  You must start with raw beets not the canned stuff.  So the trade off is a little grit for color.

Shockolata Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 4:12pm
post #13 of 24

Or you could use a juicer to juice the beets and then reduce them on the stove? Or maybe use the really fine grater to grate the beets in which case it would be such thin slivers that it would probably be undetectable? I think I need to experiment a bit to maintain the colour. Mine had a good taste. My daughter knew it was not the standard cake but could not put her finger on what tasted differently. She said she liked it. I will finish up decorating it today and then cut it to see what it looks like. It is a bit of a mash-up because I am feeling a bit strange lately.  

Pastrybaglady Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 4:51pm
post #14 of 24

Juicing and reducing is applying heat which will change the color from purple to brown.

Shockolata Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 5:20pm
post #15 of 24

Well, we cut the cake and here are the pics... it was OK, not perfect. But that is what happens with experiments. Notice how I used some colour in the syrup to turn the sponge redder. Also notice the over whipped cream :( My piping nozzles have disappeared. So I just snipped the piping bag. I feel so embarrassed but I take pics even of my failures so I can learn from them.


Shockolata Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 5:22pm
post #16 of 24

Mind you, having criticised myself, the mirror glaze is flawless, not a bubble in sight!

Pastrybaglady Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 7:28pm
post #17 of 24

This post gives a recipe and explains the science:

-K8memphis Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 9:24pm
post #18 of 24

it's a beautiful dessert 

 i'll take that nice thick generous slice


you did great with the pretty red color too


Shockolata Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 9:30pm
post #19 of 24

@Pastrybaglady   thank you for the link, I am going to take a look at it now.

@-K8memphis  you are very kind. This slice is the normal size for Greek cakes. Luckily it is not a sweet cake so it is easy to eat :) But it is not as great as the luscious cupcake that pastrybaglady baked. 

-K8memphis Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 9:35pm
post #20 of 24

i don't compare like that -- although i like hers too of course --

comparing only happens in a competition or when a client wants me to duplicate something

*Last edited by -K8memphis on 11 Sep 2015 , 9:39pm
Shockolata Posted 12 Sep 2015 , 3:33pm
post #21 of 24

That recipe you gave me. It makes sense, but my goodness, isn't half a kilo a LOT of sugar for these ingredients?

Pastrybaglady Posted 12 Sep 2015 , 4:40pm
post #22 of 24

Compared to most recipes it's about 1/2 cup more, but when you consider how much acid this recipe has, it needs to be balanced by sugar!  The resulting cake was not overwhelmingly sweet to the taste, only your waistline will notice grin.png .

Shockolata Posted 12 Sep 2015 , 7:31pm
post #23 of 24

OK, thanks. Let me order a larger size of trousers ;)

Pastrybaglady Posted 12 Sep 2015 , 7:59pm
post #24 of 24

Haha! My hope is that the antioxidants help offset the damage by the sugar!

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