For the first time in my life I baked a cake last night. Just a single 9" gold cake layer from a recipe in the King Arthur flour cookbook. It was edible and had far more buttery/eggy flavor than the barely edible supermarket cakes that I used to have to settle for, but I'm not happy with its texture. It wasn't tough or dry, but it had the very fine (small) crumb that I associate with supermarket pound cakes. Actually the standard supermarket gold cake slices that I would occasionally buy had the same fine texture.
What I want is a very large crumb like I saw at the end of this Paula Deen 7 minute frosting video. Just seek to the end of the video to see exactly what I'm talking about. In addition to 'large crumbed' one might also describe the texture as fluffy, airy and delicate. Basically I want as much air as possible while still having a medium density. That is, I'm not looking for a density as 'light' as angel or sponge. Having scoured the net for information on cake textures I've found that a cake with a "fine crumb" seems to most often be considered a good thing, but it's just not what I want.
My current cook books are: Cooks Illustrated, King Arthur, Maida Heatter, the old 50s Betty Crocker book, and some other recipe book which claims to have very old baking recipes. Of course there are also many internet recipes as well. From what I've read it seems like Betty Crocker is my best bet for a large crumbed, fluffy, airy cake. I'll try that recipe next.
I have many questions about which ingredient proportions and techniques are good for building a larger crumb.
1. Flour: low gluten cake flour, medium gluten Gold Medal/Pillsbury AP, or higher gluten King Arthur AP?
2. Mixing: standard creaming method or 'two step' Rose Levy Beranbaum method? Stand mixer or manual or maybe stand mixer for the creaming step and manual mixing for the rest? When using the stand mixer is low, medium or high speed best? Is it better to cream at high speed and then go to low once you start adding the eggs and flour? Longer or shorter mixing times? What about using the quick bread technique of absolute minimal mixing/folding after the creaming step? Sift the dry ingredients together? More than once? What about switching to a wire balloon wisk attachment after creaming with the paddle to try to get more air? Does 'over-beating' result in a larger or smaller crumb? Is it better to lightly scramble the eggs in a bowl before very gradually pouring it into the mixer bowl almost like adding oil to mayonnaise?
3. Oven temperature: slightly lower or slightly higher?
4. Ingredients: More or less baking powder? More or less liquid (milk/sour cream/buttermilk)? More or less acidity in the liquid? Does the yolk to white ratio affect the crumb size? Would fewer eggs be better? More or less butter? What about vegetable shortening or high ratio 'emulsified' shortening? Do 'high ratio' cake recipes tend toward a larger crumb size? What about superfine or other specialized sugars?
Any recommendations for baking books that teach the effect of different ingredient ratios on the crumb size or examples of gold or white cake recipes that result in a larger crumb size? I'm willing to experiment, but I'd at least like to get a nudge in the right direction. I'm thinking that I should also try a chiffon cake or a genoise cake. That linked frosted chiffon cake is another example of a texture that seems good to me. A bit smaller crumbed than the Paula Deen example, but it looks very moist and delicate. I wonder if it collapsed a bit from the weight of the frosting.
You want a cake like Pauala Deen shows, you need to email her.
Most baking lessons focus on creating a fine crumb. Neither genoise or chiffon will give you what you want..