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Following Recipe Directions vs. Conventional Wisdom - Page 3

post #31 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LindaF144

Quote:
Originally Posted by snowshoe1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Betheigh

Oh, and I'm still curious what you think about the over beating, in general. In most cases, should I avoid that last directive, and just mix/stir/beat until combined or is it really recipe specific, or cake-type specific?



There are many methods for mixing cakes - it depends on the ingredients and the desired outcome: One Step Method; High Ratio Method (YES - will often require about 2 minutes); Creaming Method; Modified Creaming Method; Angel Food Mixing Method; Chiffon Mixing Method; Sponge Mixing Method (e.g. sponge, genoise, biscuit, etc...), etc... To state that you should never beat something for 2 minutes is not correct.



I'm sorry, but most home hobby bakers this is correct to a degree. There are two reasons. First the "hi-ratio" method is for recipes that have more sugar then flour ratio. This works for batters that use hi ratio shortening, something not readily available to the average home baker. Or before Crisco went mostly, but not all, trans fat free. Now we have the blogosphere where people take recipes, substitute butter for the shortening without reformulating the flour/sugar ratio. They also do not redo the batter making process. They may get good luck for whatever reason the first time, or think that the sunken look in the center is just indicative of scratch cakes and not do anything about it. I have seen plenty of cake photos with the sunken bottom and the author stating it is the best cake ever. Shirley Corriher said it best in her book Bakewise that a sad cake is the best cake to eat. That doesn't mean it was made right.

It certainly is better for the cake to not be beaten for two minutes than it is to beat for two minutes - at the end stage. The gluten gets over developed, as said several times here, and then problems arise. I find that most recipes assume one is using a hand mixer. I have also seen over and over the statement that if you use a hand mixer that is the time you need to mix longer than a stand mixer.

The second reason is that we all have different equipment, different brands (even that will make a difference, more than one thinks) and different ideas on what a cake should taste like.

I notice in the recipe she does state to beat for two minutes "using a hand mixer". Those words there should raise a red flag to any body using a stand mixer that this recipe process needs to be revamped to work with your tools. Plus that recipe is a very temperamental recipe calling for all the products toe ice cold. And then we will add another problem to the mix - use a different pan than the recipe called for and you will have other issues also, even using a 10 cup bunt pan vs. A 12 cup bunt pan.

I have said this before, and will put it here. There are excellent books to read that can educate you on all the nuances of scratch baking. I find this topic to be of great interest and pour over them again and again like novels. Here are some of the books you can read:

Bakewise and another book Cookwise, both by Shirley Corriher. How Baking Works by Paula Figoni (may have spelling wrong), The Professional Decorator by Toba Garrett, The Professional Baker, a college text book by Garrett (last name), The Cake Bible by Rose Levenbaum. Every recipe and the last chapter all have information on how the recipe works. I may be forgetting a book or two, but these are all good starts. Most of these can be found in your local library.

I don't remember exactly if I said you should never mix for two minutes. Certainly those that can get the hi ratio shortening will have different methods for mixing as well as those that use a hand mixer over a stand mixer. But I can say I have a happier cake and a more satisfied crowd when I don't over mix. If you want to mix for the 2 minutes, then I suggest a slow speed over medium. But I still stand by my statement that it is better to NOT mix for 2 minutes than to mix. I have done months and months of experimenting to come to this conclusion. I have done my share of dumping a lot of product before I followed my intuition and after months of research and found what worked with my equipment. For me and my KA, I do not beat for 2 minutes. Ever since I changed that method I have not had to toss any more products.

So I will still say follow your intuition. And actually the best way I have found to see if it works is to get into the kitchen and do some "science" experiments. Make a batter several different ways with the same ingredients. Find the one that works for you, and works more than once, and then use that method. Recipes are guidelines and you are the scientist. Go and explore. It will be fun



Thank you for your post! It seems like this little recipe is one I'm just going to have to experiment with until I get it right since I do really enjoy it. Honestly, it is funny that you mention the quote about sad cakes being the best to eat, because my SIL enjoys this cake so much (me too, obviously) - especially the crusty top with the sunken interior. But, it is frustrating to me that I know there has been SOME success with the cake and I can't achieve the same results. You are right, though - with this being a very finicky thing, small changes do matter.

I don't think I've ever truly beaten for two minutes or anywhere close, but I suppose part of me thought that in some cases, especially this recipe, maybe I was underbeating it. Of course there are recipes where I wonder if I am overbeating, too! I think my lack of experience as a baker really makes me second guess my intuition vs. instructions. I imagine, though, that with time and more experience that I will feel more confident.

As far as the book recommendations - I do have the Cake Bible! But, people keep mentioning the Bakewise book on this thread, so I feel compelled to get that one, too. I love reading, so I truly appreciate you steering me in the right direction in that regard.
post #32 of 36
Betheigh, if you want to try the method without actually buying the Magic Strips, (I use these on every cake with great results) then take a ripped up dish towel, long enough to go around pan (folded once), soak it in water and wrap it in foil, then T-pin it around pan. Good Luck
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post #33 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by snowshoe1

Linda - you should also check the book Professional Baking by Wayne Glissen which is issued in many Pastry Arts professional programs - as it was in mine. Hi-ratio shortening is not required for high-ratio cakes. I have many high-ratio cake recipes that turn out wonderful using butter as the fat - I would be happy to share.

The high-ratio mixing method is also referred to as the two-step mixing method (see Glissen's book). It is generally accepted the high-ratio (or two-step) mixing method was developed by Procter and Gamble in the 1940's to prevent the batter from separating when the high proportion of sugar can make the batter separate.

I don't think I've ever encouraged anyone to overmix.



That was one of the book I referred to. I had the author wrong. I could have sworn he was one of the books that stated hi-ratio shortening is necessary for cakes. That is one of the books that I have to do through inter library loan through my DDs college. I think I might have to get it out again and do some rereading.

Thanks.
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post #34 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dldbrou

Betheigh, if you want to try the method without actually buying the Magic Strips, (I use these on every cake with great results) then take a ripped up dish towel, long enough to go around pan (folded once), soak it in water and wrap it in foil, then T-pin it around pan. Good Luck



I'll try that! Thanks!
post #35 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by LindaF144

Quote:
Originally Posted by snowshoe1

Linda - you should also check the book Professional Baking by Wayne Glissen which is issued in many Pastry Arts professional programs - as it was in mine. Hi-ratio shortening is not required for high-ratio cakes. I have many high-ratio cake recipes that turn out wonderful using butter as the fat - I would be happy to share.

.



That was one of the book I referred to. I had the author wrong. I could have sworn he was one of the books that stated hi-ratio shortening is necessary for cakes. That is one of the books that I have to do through inter library loan through my DDs college. I think I might have to get it out again and do some rereading.

Thanks.



The edition that I have DOES say that high-ratio shortening is used for high-ratio cakes, and that butter isn't used for them, so you're not imagining things. It also says that type of shortening isn't readily available to home cooks, so it must have been changed in later editions.
post #36 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

Quote:
Originally Posted by LindaF144

Quote:
Originally Posted by snowshoe1

Linda - you should also check the book Professional Baking by Wayne Glissen which is issued in many Pastry Arts professional programs - as it was in mine. Hi-ratio shortening is not required for high-ratio cakes. I have many high-ratio cake recipes that turn out wonderful using butter as the fat - I would be happy to share.

.



That was one of the book I referred to. I had the author wrong. I could have sworn he was one of the books that stated hi-ratio shortening is necessary for cakes. That is one of the books that I have to do through inter library loan through my DDs college. I think I might have to get it out again and do some rereading.

Thanks.



The edition that I have DOES say that high-ratio shortening is used for high-ratio cakes, and that butter isn't used for them, so you're not imagining things. It also says that type of shortening isn't readily available to home cooks, so it must have been changed in later editions.




Good to know I was not remembering correctly or losing my mind. I have been dealing with computer hardware issues all day. I thought maybe the stress over that was clouding my memory. Thanks for looking it up.

I should stick this book on my gift list.........
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