Afraid! Doctored Boxed Vs. Scratch Question

Baking By lrlt2000 Updated 6 Dec 2011 , 7:47pm by kisamarie

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lrlt2000 Posted 1 Dec 2011 , 7:32pm
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I am not a high-volume baker and have become quite comfortable with my doctored boxed recipes (about which I get great reviews from customers/friends/family). But I've recently become bent on trying scratch recipes and have heavily researched (especially on the "Scratch Bakers: Post your best" thread!) and want to try scratch for the first time for charity baking I will do next week.

I am considering testing out this weekend the three scratch recipes I intend to use next week (by halving them), but my question here relates to storage issues between doctored boxed and scratch recipes. The doctored box recipes I've used have pudding mix, eggs and sour cream, and can basically be out for a couple of days while decorating and then even another day on which I deliver and the cake is eaten (and that's not even considering leftovers kept after that, which I'd presume you'd refrigerate). I usually cover my cakes completely with rolled MMF but the cupcakes I will make will not be completely covered.

But these new scratch recipes all call for butter (and/or sour cream or buttermilk). Does that change the storage and length factors? Any advice would be appreciated!

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AnnieCahill Posted 1 Dec 2011 , 11:39pm
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I know that with some recipes, they are really only good for a day or two. Have you tried using shortening in place of some of the butter? That may affect the cake's shelf life. I would experiment with a couple of recipes and just see how they do stored at room temperature. Or if you have specific recipes you're using maybe post them and see what the other recommendations are.

I personally store my scratch cakes in the freezer (because I work full time and have to bake up to a week in advance for a weekend event) and then thaw them out a day or two before the event and ice them. My pumpkin, red velvet, and carrot cakes are like bricks so I don't worry about those being at room temperature.

Cupcakes are tricky for me. I like to keep those in an airtight container, or at least in the cake box sealed up with plastic wrap. I feel like since they are smaller they are more prone to getting dried out.

Hopefully someone else will have a better suggestion. Good luck!

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lrlt2000 Posted 4 Dec 2011 , 4:37am
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I've thought through a but more my plan for next week, so I thought these details might help people comment on my storage issues. icon_biggrin.gif

I am doing cupcakes (scratch cake, IMBC on top) and some small 6" round cakes (scratch cake, 4-5" high, filled with the IMBC and covered in MMF for the charity sale which is Thursday night 7-9. The three recipes I'm trying all have either butter, buttermilk and/or sour cream. I will probably:

Tuesday: bake cakes and refrigerate;

Wednesday: bake the cupcakes and refrigerate (a.m.); tort/fill/ganache/fondant all cakes but leave out (p.m.);

Thursday: decorate or finish decorating outsides of cakes and box up; remove cupcakes from fridge midday, top with IMBC/decor and then box up for Thursday 7pm sale

The sale is Thursday night, so people will probably either eat or give as a gift by Saturday or Sunday. So, for the cupcakes, they're out of the fridge for good as of Thursday midday, and the cakes covered with fondant will be out of the fridge as of Wednesday afternoon.

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kisamarie Posted 5 Dec 2011 , 8:32pm
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I bake both from scratch and occasionally I do a WASC or a variation of WASC. Most of the cakes themselves last 2-3 days unrefrigerated unless I add cream cheese or something that would go bad normally if left out while not in the fridge. Butter can be left out without going bad, it may get super soft depending on your house temp, but it's still safe to eat. Buttermilk may be the one I'd question, I only use that in my red velvet, but that gets refrigerated because I use cream cheese frosting. I don't know if any of that helps you, but sometimes it's nice just to know what personal methods other bakers follow. icon_smile.gif

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lrlt2000 Posted 6 Dec 2011 , 2:56am
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Thank you! That definitely helps! I am thinking I will just put labels on every box that say "eat within 48 hours or refrigerate for up to 5 days." Do you think that is okay or would you change it? I am using buttermilk in the red velvet also, but not cream cheese icing. I think the coconut cake I'm making also calls for buttermilk.

As for buttermilk: I wonder if it changes the spoilage considerations being that it's been baked, once it's in the cake, and not "raw"/cold?

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kisamarie Posted 6 Dec 2011 , 3:52am
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That sounds right for the labeling. I know that buttermilk is basically skim milk with an added enzyme to make it similar to what real buttermilk used to be. Old time buttermilk existed before refrigeration and is supposed to be the absolute best for baking, improving the smell flavor and crumb of baked goods. I wish I could find it down here in Texas! Anyway I think you're smart for labeling with those parameters, it's better to be safe than sorry!

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FromScratchSF Posted 6 Dec 2011 , 6:05am
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OK, first, no, your scratch cakes aren't going to spoil because you are using real ingredients like buttermilk or butter versus using a box mix. Your cake may dry out after several days, but cake itself is not perishable. I don't know where you are but where I ma I have no labeling or refrigeration requirements for cake or cake with meringue buttercream. Add a label if you want, but it's not necessary.

I'd personally freeze unfrosted cake over putting it in the fridge. Condensation can build up on your cake in the fridge and make your cake taste like your fridge, especially if you have savory food in there like onions or meat.

Your time line is fine for decorating and delivering your cakes. I would not worry about refrigeration of your fondant cakes, even with the IMBC. They will be fine.

Correction on commercial buttermilk... it is "real" buttermilk. In the "old days" farms would take the liquid left over form making butter, add some milk to it and let it ferment. Light fermentation is what we know as buttermilk. Medium is what we know of as kiefer, and full fermentation is yogurt. Commercial buttermilk is the same, only they start with non-fat or low fat milk and add those cultures that they keep going similar to how you would keep sourdough starter. It is impossible for commercial farms to use the discarded liquid from the butter making process to produce in the quantity needed for commercial production, but really, that liquid is pointless since it has no fat, low calories, and most importantly, no cultures.

Those natural cultures, or good bacteria, act as natural emulsifiers, helping your batter come together more perfect, thereby making the cake bake more perfect and have a nice texture.

You can make your own buttermilk, or "old time" buttermilk by getting a carton of commercial buttermilk, leave it on your counter, and as you use it, replace what you used with milk. The cultures multiply and grow on their own (make sure you get buttermilk with active cultures to start).

Sorry to be so over-the-top, but the misinformation about "real" buttermilk is posted so regularly here and because I'm a freak that researched the heck out of this, I feel the need to share what I learned.

Sorry to hijack. icon_smile.gif

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lrlt2000 Posted 6 Dec 2011 , 1:01pm
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WOW! Thanks for that information. On the labels, I said "100% Baked from Scratch! For best taste, eat within 48 or refrigerate for up to 5 days, bringing to room temperature before eating." I just don't want someone eating scratch cake 3 days from now and saying "Ew, her cake is so dry!" At least they know that the longer they wait the less great it will taste by nature. icon_wink.gif

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lrlt2000 Posted 6 Dec 2011 , 1:08pm
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Oh, FromScratch, I forgot to add: when I refrigerate during assembly/decoration periods, I refrigerate more for the benefit of retaining the moisture of the cake, not necessarily that I have to. Even with doctored box baking, it really does make a difference to refrigerate/freeze.

If I don't have the cross-odor issue in my fridge, do you have a preference for freezing or refrigerating for moisture in scratch cakes??

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FromScratchSF Posted 6 Dec 2011 , 3:29pm
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I always freeze. Check out the really long thread about freezing cake!

Good luck!

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kisamarie Posted 6 Dec 2011 , 7:47pm
post #11 of 11

Awesome info FromScratch, I was just reading some info last night that had said the buttermilk you buy in the grocery store today is simply skim milk with enzymes. That was just the info I had come up with on a quick search on the Internet. Your Info was much more thorough and definitely answered our question regarding refrigeration! Thanks so much for taking the time, I love your blog and page, BTW!

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