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Getting frustrated with vanilla cakes! - Page 4

post #46 of 47
annakat, I have made it many times, all a success. When I study a bakers' recipes, I also research their methodology. This is important to get the most out of a recipe. In that recipe, Buddy gives the tip of using a hand mixer on the custard to add to the strength of the structure and to shorten the time. He also says that mixing longer will produce a thicker custard. I do both and I always bump up my thickener in any recipe to an additional 20-30%. With cornstarch and fully cooked flour, that extra is an insurance policy that a custard will not become runny, especially if it is a filling with weight on it or a base for German buttercream.

So on Buddy's, the custard cold is almost the consistency of cold mashed potatoes... able to stand on its own on a spoon and not lose the sharp cut edges. For the cake, room temp is important. For custards, I actually use my chocolate thermometer to watch to get it back to 72 degrees before using. The cupcakes are mega moist and the dome is higher than any I have ever seen. BUT, be careful, the cake and cupcakes do not brown, so you have to really watch it. Because the cake is so moist and dense, it takes a little bit longer to bake.

dawnybird, The reason that your box mix wins is because you haven't baked a scratch cake that is better than the box. This is true of many bakers' skill level. A good scratch cake isn't even compared to a box. It's like cake and pie. I say this because in my experience, people don't stop eating box just because they have had an excellent scratch cake. They just don't have the opportunity to get it every time they want cake. My prices are too high to have mine as the dessert at every Sunday dinner, for example. There are too many pastry chefs, mega-successful bakery owners, celebrity chefs, and just great bakers, to refute your claim. And there are also the multitude of CC members who have risen to the level of master scratch bakers. My customers will not pay the $89.00 that I charge for my homestyle (not decorated) 9 in German Chocolate cake if it was a box. For that price, I had better produce an amazing gastronomic experience. And this cake has a great following.

Indydebi, you just may not like yellow cake. It is my favorite batter taste and the only one I actually prefer with no frosting. When I experiment, the cakes get eaten by family and my daughter's friend by just breaking off a chunk. It is so delicious. I do have a few extra ingredients that take it to a deeper depth of taste, but to the unknow taster, it's just yellow cake. I don't like chocolate and everyone loves chocolate. My white cake has a wonderful flavor plain. Because I don't do traditional wedding cakes (people come to me for my non-traditional flavors), I have never just made a white cake with vanilla frosting, but if I pull a piece of the cake out of my slice, again, I could eat it by itself.
post #47 of 47
Just wanted to stick my 2 cents in... I've been experimenting with scratch vanilla/yellow/white cake for months now... I pm-ed scp1127 the other day for suggestions and she mentioned Warren Brown's Yellow Butter Cake recipe (it's on his website and youtube)... It was great! It worked well as cupcakes and a cake... she knows what she's talking about, and I'm going to try several of her other suggestions.

To answer someone's question about why people don't want to use boxed mixes: I've turned to scratch baking because I feel better knowing what's going into my cakes, I want to be able to tell people that yes, I bake from scratch. I want my labels to have "real" ingredients on it that you can pronounce... I want to use local, fresh ingredients- when available, to help support local farms. Because I LIKE to bake and I like a challenge and I love the satisfaction from having to work at a recipe and have it come out right. Because after all of my experimenting I used a WASC recipe a couple of weeks ago (because I hadn't found a suitable replacement yet) and I could absolutely taste that chemically taste people talk about... I must have been so used to it I didn't notice!

Hope maybe that helps someone icon_smile.gif

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against people who used doctored mixes... It's what I started with and I got plenty of rave reviews about them... but for those who would rather bake from scratch even though they get frustrated at all the experimenting trying to find the right recipe... there are many reasons why we put ourselves through it.

For those still experimenting (and I'm sure I'll continue to experiment myself) a few things I've learned:

I prefer yellow cake, I think the yolks help keep in some of the moisture. I would still make a white cake if someone specifically asked, but my go-to vanilla cake will almost definitely contain egg yolks.

I always have to increase the flavoring in recipes... I'm sorry but 2 tsp vanilla does not give me the vanilla flavor I like. I use at least 2 TBSP vanilla and usually some vanilla bean paste as well! I'm a vanilla girl, I don't see it as "plain", I like to taste the vanilla in my cake.

Pay attention to the temperature of ingredients and the mixing method... yes, I know everyone says it.... but it's true! If my recipe fails the first time, I will usually try it at least once more- paying extra attention to the method.

Finally, at first I found modifying recipes to be a daunting task, I didn't know enough about baking science... but I found this article that talks about ratios of ingredients and it has helped me decide what to change and by how much without causing a complete failure:
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