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HELP scratch bakers!! Dede Wilson cake was ALL WRONG!!

post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 
I've been making Dede Wilson's yellow and white cakes for months now, and I thought they were turning out fine. A little dry as written, but I've been adding a scoop of sour cream before measuring out the whole milk, then adding a couple tablespoons of veg oil as my last step before pouring out into pans. I've had great success with her recipes, modified as I stated, but I realized this weekend that the only ones I've tasted myself of the yellow and white cakes have been up to only about an 8 inch cake. But I've made plenty of BIGGER cakes with the same recipes.

Since I usually drop off the cakes, I'm not there for the cake cutting so I've just assumed the big cakes tasted as good as the smaller ones I've had. This weekend I made a 10 inch square for a birthday cake for my aunt. I was mortified when the cake was cut and served, because it was SO INCREDIBLY DRY I couldn't even take it. (And I'm used to scratch cake, not the overly moist mouth feel of mix cakes.) And all the buttercreme I'd put on the cake, which was a considerably thicker layer than I usually put for being under a layer of fondant, since I know my family are all frosting nuts, had all but disappeared -- I think it must have soaked into the crazy dryness of the cake, but so the end result was a dry yellow cake, with barely any frosting to make it palatable. I was so embarrassed -- and this was for my whole extended family who has been hearing for months all about my scratch cakes. They were all excited to try it themselves.

For this bigger cake, I dropped the temp down to 325 (and used flower nails, as usual). Other than the temp lowering, I did everything the exact same as when I've made the smaller, and successful, cakes. I'm so upset about this because now I'm afraid all the bigger cakes I've made and dropped off have been equally as dry and uneatable, and no one has told me.

Anyone have any other ideas what I need to do differently for bigger cakes, or if you know of a really good scratch recipe that sn't as dense as pound cake like I've found the scratch wasc to be? I like that Dede Wilson's recipe is relatively light and fluffy, and with my modifcations, has actually been moist even wthout adding a syrup to the top. That is, at least it was for the SMALLER cakes I've had. What did I do wrong??? I have another wedding cake to do this weekend, so I'm feeling all the more nervous that I've been making dry cakes for months and never knew it... icon_sad.gif
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post #2 of 54
Is it possible you are just over cooking it? If its the same recipe it should come out the same. I would just check it sooner and/or do a test run.

Bigger cakes continue cooking after you take them out of the oven - because it takes them longer to cool off. That might be part of your problem there. I would recommend taking it out of the oven sooner than you would for a smaller cake and let it cool. When you test it with a toothpick you want some crumbs to come off with it. (obviously not globs just crumbs)


Thats what works for me! Good luck!
post #3 of 54
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I tested it at the time I would have expected it to be done, but it came back still wet and gloopy in the middle. So I let it cook for 4 minutes more before testing it again. This time it came back with just a few crumbs. Nothing seemed amiss... Maybe I let it sit too long in the pan before turning it out? I wonder how much it continues to cook in the pan... my pan directions said to let cool in the pan for 12 minutes, which is what I did.
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post #4 of 54
[quote="DebbyJG"]Yeah, I tested it at the time I would have expected it to be done, but it came back still wet and gloopy in the middle. So I let it cook for 4 minutes more before testing it again. This time it came back with just a few crumbs. Nothing seemed amiss... Maybe I let it sit too long in the pan before turning it out? I wonder how much it continues to cook in the pan... my pan directions said to let cool in the pan for 12 minutes, which is what I did.[/quote]

That is strange - maybe turn your oven off when its still gloppy? And let it sit - or turn your oven down a little bit when you are cooking it and keep a thermometer handy there to keep an eye on the temperature. You might have to experiment to get it right, bigger cakes are trickier.
post #5 of 54
I just read on another website forum where the person called Dede's recipe a pound cake like recipe. Can you post the ingredients and the amounts? I have made up an excel spreadsheet where I can figure out the proportions to the flour and the total percentage in the cake.

Me personally, I would start trying other recipes in other books. I don't have Dede's book here to look at the recipe. I can get it from my local library though. As far as other yellow cakes, I wouldn't try Cake Love, they are also pound cake like cakes. Maybe you might try The Cake Bible because she also has a chart in the back that helps you when you make cakes of various sizes. I haven't personally tried to make other yellow cakes. But there are a ton of them out there that are all yellow cakes but have different amounts of ingredients and different ways of mixing the cake to make it moister. I would recommend a trip to your local library and start there. I have a list of yellow butter cakes I want to try. It's just that we are a little caked out here, so I'm taking a baking break for a couple of weeks.

Good luck. I would love to hear what you decided to do.

Quote:
Quote:

(And I'm used to scratch cake, not the overly moist mouth feel of mix cakes.)



My scratch cakes are just as moist as a mix. I have to tell people when I make a mix or scratch as they can never tell the difference. The last batch of vanilla cupcakes I made - from The Cake Bible - went over so well that people were eating 2 to 3 instead of one. So I'm not quite getting what you mean by the overly dry for scratch. In fact my MIL, when she used to make cakes, made them from a mix. They were so dry that I always made sure to bring a half gallon of ice cream to serve with it as a "surprise" for everybody. Actually it was so I get through eating the very dry cake.
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post #6 of 54
Thread Starter 
Wow, thanks for the info. I'd always heard that the cakes from The Cake Bible were dry as sandpaper, so I never even ventured to try them.

What I mean by the overly moist box cakes, is the high reliance on hydrogenated oil and a ton of vegetable oil and other ingredients that make it so moist. I don't know if you are from the U.S. or not, but most people are born and bred on box cakes, so it's what people are used to tasting, and when they taste scratch cakes it's a totally different experience. Not that it really ISN'T moist -- but it's a different mouth feel with box cakes. I'll have to try out the cake bible recipe.
And yes, I'll post my ingredients here in a moment...
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post #7 of 54
Thread Starter 
Okay, here's what I used for my 2- 10 inch square layers last weekend. I've noted an asterisk next to the modifications that I've made to Dede Wilson's recipe:

3 3/4 cup cake flour
1 TBS plus 1 3/4 tsp baking powder (I use non-aluminum kind)
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 tsp real vanilla extract
5 large eggs, room temp
1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temp *

*I add a few tablespoons of full-fat sour cream prior to measuring out the milk, so the milks in total equal the amount needed.
*4 TBS vegetable oil (added at the end, stirring in gently after milks and dry ingredients have been alternatly added in..I just add this for the aforementioned "mouth feel" that people like. Usually I do 2 T for 2 9 inch layers...maybe I needed more than 4 to make my 10 inches?)

I use the method of creaming the butter and sugar together and beat it until it's almost white, then I slow the mixer and gently add in the alternate milks and sifted dry ingredients.

I'd love ANY suggestions on where I've gone wrong! Like I said, I've had GREAT success with the smaller cakes...I know, I've sampled many of them (haha). But this was the first time I'd actually eaten one of the larger cakes using the recipe.
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post #8 of 54
The first thing I notice, is that that recipe has WAY too much baking powder in it. You only need 1 tsp per cup of flour. That's also a LOT of eggs.

I suggest you develop your own recipe to your own liking.

Start with the basic 1-2-3-4 cake and adjust from there:

1-2-3-4 cake
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups sifted cake flour (this means sift the flour, then measure!)
4 large eggs, room temp
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond
1 cup milk

http://www.prestoflour.com/Portals/TheArtOfBaking/portal.aspx?tabid=14&rid=507
post #9 of 54
When a recipe says sifted flour, you sift, then measure? I've wondered about this the last few times I've used sifted flour.
post #10 of 54
If you're not ready to give up on this recipe, I would just suggest that you start torting. Torting is just one more way that you can make absolutley sure that your cake is the texture you desire, all the way through. If you're still finding them dry, then you can start adjusting from there. I also add sour cream to my scratch cakes, but I add about 1/4 cup per batch, after the milk.
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post #11 of 54
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheatize

When a recipe says sifted flour, you sift, then measure? I've wondered about this the last few times I've used sifted flour.



I've been doing it as I read about in Dede Wilson's book, which is sift it, then scoop and level.
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post #12 of 54
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by prterrell

The first thing I notice, is that that recipe has WAY too much baking powder in it. You only need 1 tsp per cup of flour. That's also a LOT of eggs.

http://www.prestoflour.com/Portals/TheArtOfBaking/portal.aspx?tabid=14&rid=507



Wouldn't too many eggs just make it too moist or maybe denser/heavier? In fact that was one of my suspicions -- I get my eggs from a local farmer, and thinking back on it, I think the most recent batch of eggs I got from her were smaller than normal. They would still be considered "large" by grocery store standards, but usually the eggs I get from her are pretty jumbo, and I've noticed with organic/free range eggs, the yolks are bigger usually. This last time, they looked more like standard grocery store eggs. So one of my theories was that this time, even though I put the same number of eggs in, I didn't quite have the same AMOUNT of eggs -- I usually have MORE, in other words. How does having too much eggs effect your balance?

My other thought/question is, I only use non-aluminum standard baking soda, not the "double acting". So knowing that, am I still using too much baking powder?
Maybe I should post my ingredient list for one of my smaller, such as an 8 inch, cakes, since I *know* those turn out right, so we can compare and see if the larger cake ingredient list is off!! icon_smile.gif
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post #13 of 54
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DetailsByDawn

If you're not ready to give up on this recipe, I would just suggest that you start torting. Torting is just one more way that you can make absolutley sure that your cake is the texture you desire, all the way through. If you're still finding them dry, then you can start adjusting from there. I also add sour cream to my scratch cakes, but I add about 1/4 cup per batch, after the milk.



Yeah, I've been meaning to get that Agabay....once I can afford it! The last time I tried torting with my Wilton it was a disaster, and I just can't seem to get the knack of the knife and toothpick method. icon_smile.gif

So do you add the same amount of sour cream no matter how large your cake? And when you say after the milk, do you mean you add it in to the batter that has already incorporated the milk and the dry ingredients?

Thanks so much everyone, for all your tips. I really appreciate this. thumbs_up.gif
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post #14 of 54
Quote:
Quote:

Yeah, I've been meaning to get that Agabay....once I can afford it! The last time I tried torting with my Wilton it was a disaster, and I just can't seem to get the knack of the knife and toothpick method. icon_smile.gif

So do you add the same amount of sour cream no matter how large your cake? And when you say after the milk, do you mean you add it in to the batter that has already incorporated the milk and the dry ingredients?



Hi Debbie,
Oooh, I can't afford the Agbay either! I just use my Wilton large leveler and it's okay. I don't bother to return the torted levels to their original location, since I can just use the filling to make sure it's level. I have occasionally caught a cake a bit on the dryer side (sidetracked with the kiddos and overcooked icon_redface.gif ), but I added some simple syrup or fruit juice and "fixed" it!

I add 1/4 cup of sour cream to one batch, which is about half the recipe you posted, as mine include 2 cups flour. I don't add it to the milk to make up the amount of milk I need. I add it separately after, along with the rest of the wet ingredients. It works in pretty much any recipe I do use, including bananna or carrot or chocolate - it just adds some moisture and density.. Hope this helps!!
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post #15 of 54
1. I agree with PTerrell - way too much baking powder. While sometimes leavening is put into a cake to tenderize it, it's not needed in this cake because it has not acidic ingredients in it.

2. Speaking of acidic. You are adding sour cream which is acidic without any baking soda. That may contribute to the dryness. I did a science experiment of sorts this past week where I tweaked baking soda in a cake and I shouldn't have. The cake was dry, dry, dry. You need 1/4 tsp of baking soda for each cup of flour and 1 tsp of baking powder for each cup of flour. The cake I failed was a chocolate cake so it needed lots of baking soda. Your cake could probably use 1/2 tsp of baking soda to start, with another 1 3/4 tsp of baking powder to equal the amount of flour. HOWEVER, you may need to "over leaven" in order tenderize, so I think you could co up to 1 tsp of baking soda and 1 tsp of baking powder. You can try this if you are willing to experiment.

3. The Cake Bible - I cant vouch for all her cakes, only the one I made which was the sour cream cake (I think it's called that). I added milk to it on the second batch. On the first batch it was okay. It felt like we were eating slightly sweetened bread. I loved the crumb, just not enough moisture. And I have found much moister and sweeter cake recipes out there then those. I don't understand sometimes the accolades the cakes get. Someday I'll try again, but not right now.

4. Definitely way more eggs than I see in most recipes - try 4 eggs instead.

5. If I look at this from the Baker's Formula point of view, the sugar is not equal to or more than the flour in weight. Using 4 ounces for cake flour and 7 ounces for sugar, the sugar is far below what is needed. The eggs are close enough in weight to the fat, but I see lots of recipes where this part of the equation is off, so that is okay. Your liquid is way over the weight of the sugar, so that means you should have a nice moist cake. But egg whites are a drying agent too. I would add the vegetable oil sooner than the end, maybe mix it in with the milk. In fact, I would mix the milk, sour cream and oil together as best as I can.

6. With adding the sour cream and oil, you are throwing off the balance of the fat in the recipe, not just adding more liquid. Still it should give you a moist cake. When do you add the eggs and do you weigh them? Getting them from a local farm may mean that you are adding more than the weight suggested for the recipe. Large egg yolks are a good thing too, they add richness to the cake.

7. I have been doing what you have been doing - clinging on to a recipe in hopes that I can "fix" it to get what I want. I finally said scr** it. There are enough recipes out there that I'm just going to keep trying them til I find what I like. There are so many bakeries out there that have published recipes that I'm just going through and trying them til I get the moist cake I want. One of the most interesting books is Baking Illustrated put out by the people at Cooks Illustrated. They make a ton of cakes before they give you the one recipe that works. There is a yellow cake in the book that you might want to try. I got a copy from my local library before I bought my own. They go into great detail on each recipe and what the results were of the failed recipes too. If anything it is interesting to read their experience without having to go through it yourself.

Good luck and keep me posted on what you find. I find this part of baking from scratch extremely fascinating.
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