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Why do lemon cakes fall?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I just made a double scratch lemon cake from this site and it was a disaster...it went in the garbage.

I just logged back on to find another recipe to try but one recipe after another people wrote similar problems.

My batter was thick, I cooked w/ a rose nail at 350 and the cake was crusty on the edges and bottom. It was so dense, almost rubbery and when I leveled it there were little pockets of gooyness! I baked some cupcakes w/ my left over batter and they sank in when they cooled and had similar issues.

I'm planning to try one of the box recipes next, but just wondered why this cake gave me so much trouble. I was trying to do scratch recipes and no longer rely on mixes...but oh well!
post #2 of 17
It's just possible that the day you tried the lemon cake was the day your baking powder fizzled out - it happens sometimes (ask me how I know!). Or perhaps the acid from the lemon juice was enough to neutralize the baking powder and all you need to do is to add a little more of it the next time. If you're going into the boxed mix area, may I suggest a lemon version of the WASC? I make it by substituting part of the liquid with lemon juice, adding lemon zest and a little bit of lemon extract, if I happen to have any on hand. I've had scratch lemon cakes fall, too, but this one has never failed me, probably because boxed mixes have such a lot of leavening in them.
Marianna
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Marianna
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post #3 of 17
Probably a problem with the recipe. I use a variation of Rose Beranbaum's white cake. I use half milk and half lemon juice squeezed right from oranges, and a little lemon extract or lemon oil. It turns out great. I use all baking powder, no baking soda.
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post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

Probably a problem with the recipe. I use a variation of Rose Beranbaum's white cake. I use half milk and half lemon juice squeezed right from oranges, and a little lemon extract or lemon oil. It turns out great. I use all baking powder, no baking soda.



Around here, our oranges don't have lemon juice in them!
post #5 of 17
If you're not totally against using a doctored cake mix, this is one I've made dozens of times and it gets requested over and over. It's never failed me and bakes level and fluffy every time.

1 box D.H. Classic White cake mix
1 small box lemon instant pudding
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
zest of one lemon
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup water (I use the juice of the lemon plus enough water to make 1/2 cup)
Combine for 30 secs. Beat 2 mins. Bake at 325 for about 40 mins.

I fill it with home made lemon curd and frost with lemon cr. cheese buttercream, both from this site. Yumm!

Hope you'll try it.
Oh, sorry, I forgot: This makes two 8 or 9 inch rounds, or make 2 recipes for 10 inch rounds.
post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawnybird

Thanks!
1 box D.H. Classic White cake mix
1 small box lemon instant pudding
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
zest of one lemon
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup water (I use the juice of the lemon plus enough water to make 1/2 cup)
Combine for 30 secs. Beat 2 mins. Bake at 325 for about 40 mins. This makes two 8 or 9 inch rounds, or make 2 recipes for 10 inch rounds.
post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by CWR41

Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

Probably a problem with the recipe. I use a variation of Rose Beranbaum's white cake. I use half milk and half lemon juice squeezed right from oranges, and a little lemon extract or lemon oil. It turns out great. I use all baking powder, no baking soda.



Around here, our oranges don't have lemon juice in them!




Oh, crap. Not here either!! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif
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post #8 of 17
I have read that lemon juice can react negatively with the baking powder/soda. Is this true?
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post #9 of 17
Fresh juice is notoriously hard to work with. Fruit is a living thing, and depending on where we are in the growing season and where you are located, the acid in lemons can vary dramatically. Right now we are not in lemon season in California (don't know where you are). I can BUY lemons, but they are hard and the juice is really sour (i.e. acidic).

The acid can really throw off leavening in a scratch cake. What's worse is the juice brings little to your cake in the way of flavor. For best results, use only the zest. It's where all the oil is located (flavor!). I use about 1 tbsp. of zest to every 12 cupcakes, then add about 1 tsp. of high-quality lemon extract and I make sure I have an additional 1/8 tsp. of baking soda to every 1 tsp. of baking powder. The zest bakes into the cake and you'd never know it's there, except your cake tastes like real lemon.

Good luck!
post #10 of 17
Thanks for that tip, FromScratchSF. I may lose my fear of scratch lemon cakes!
Marianna
"I know my own mind...and it's around here somewhere!"
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Marianna
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post #11 of 17
I was curious about falling lemon cakes because I haven't had it happen. Then I see that I do it the same as FromScratch. Once you find a line of natural fruit extracts, your favorite recipes can be easily adapted. I use Olive Nation. The zest adds flavor and color/texture. Invest in a good microplaner. It will pay for itself by the added amount of zest you can get from the fruits, which are not cheap.
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks this helps a lot. I went the WASC route and had better luck. I will have to try from scratch again another time. I'm in CA and maybe it had to do w/ the lemon zest.
post #13 of 17
My lemon cake does not fall, and I use more than just the zest. And it is from scratch. I make lemon cupcakes every day in my cake shop and it is one of my most popular cakes too. Never had a problem. But without seeing the recipe it is hard to say why.

And no. I'm sorry, but I will not be sharing my recipe.
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post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

Fresh juice is notoriously hard to work with. Fruit is a living thing, and depending on where we are in the growing season and where you are located, the acid in lemons can vary dramatically. Right now we are not in lemon season in California (don't know where you are). I can BUY lemons, but they are hard and the juice is really sour (i.e. acidic).

The acid can really throw off leavening in a scratch cake. What's worse is the juice brings little to your cake in the way of flavor. For best results, use only the zest. It's where all the oil is located (flavor!). I use about 1 tbsp. of zest to every 12 cupcakes, then add about 1 tsp. of high-quality lemon extract and I make sure I have an additional 1/8 tsp. of baking soda to every 1 tsp. of baking powder. The zest bakes into the cake and you'd never know it's there, except your cake tastes like real lemon.

Good luck!




Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I have never had or made lemon cake, but it has been on my list of next flavor I would like to try. This is just what I needed to hear to get inspired.
From what you wrote, can I use a recipe I already know works as a base and just change it the way you described?

Would you recommend yellow or white, or does it not matter?
Sofia
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Sofia
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post #15 of 17
[quote="Adevag"Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I have never had or made lemon cake, but it has been on my list of next flavor I would like to try. This is just what I needed to hear to get inspired.
From what you wrote, can I use a recipe I already know works as a base and just change it the way you described?

Would you recommend yellow or white, or does it not matter?[/quote]

Welcome!

Many of us have one base recipe that we use then modify it to get different flavors. I use my base scratch yellow recipe because I prefer the flavor and texture (all egg yolk), and I modify it to be all my fruit flavors including banana. Anyway, for lemon make sure you invest in a microplane zester! I just did a batch yesterday, and I want to correct to say the zest of 1 lemon and about 1/4 tsp. lemon extract for one 8" cake or 24 cupcakes is my preference. But taste your batter and add more zest/extract until you find the balance you like. Don't worry about it looking chunky, the zest will sort of melt in after baking. Also make sure you use a high quality extract like Nielson Massey or Olive Tree. And lastly if you are making cupcakes, you have to have baking soda otherwise your cuppies will shrink and fall. You can get away with baking powder only in your modified lemon cake but you have to do some experimenting with adding soda to make your cupcakes work.

Good luck!
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