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Help with bland tasting layers

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I want to 1st say that I have been lurking cake central for a while and have learned so much. I used to make cakes back in the 80's and 90's until health issues (MS) got in the way. WOW have things changed!!

My daughter has asked me to make her wedding cake which I am honored to do. Over the weekend I made a sample for them to taste. I used Pillsbury butter cake mix and an extender (which was new to me) using sour cream rather than the water called for. I added the tsp. of vanilla as the extender called for but the layers tasted pretty bland to me. My question is should I add another tsp. of vanilla or use butter flavoring. I am open to other suggestions as well. Almond is out since my daughter doesn't like almond flavored things. The frosting is my tried and true crisco, butter flavoring, powdered sugar one I learned in Wilton class forever ago.

Thanks so much!
post #2 of 9
I would have sloshed in a good tablespoon of vanilla to start. And maybe a teaspoon of butter flavour or rum flavour for good measure.

If you want to add other flavours, get a dram bottle or two of the LorAnn candy flavours. Michaels or BulkBarn in Canuckistan. For rum flavour try to get Boyajians by mailorder (it's the BEST).

LorAnn champagne, pineapple, pear, peach, and blueberry are SUPER GOOD in cake batter (separately). You add this stuff by the drop. If you like one of the flavours, they also come in one ounce bottles and you can buy dropper tops.

For beige cakes, LorAnn butter pecan and creamy hazelnut bake up super good. Throw in some chopped nuts and you are all set.

LorAnn key lime was bitter when I tried it a few times (threw out half the bottle...)
post #3 of 9
I agree, yellow and/or white cakes a really bland. At your local huge craft store you can cruise down their cake decorators aisle and find all kinds of neat flavorings like Sweet Dough and more.
post #4 of 9
Don't write off almond yet. If you put 1/8 teaspoon in with 3 or 4 teaspoons vanilla, it adds a depth of flavor. You can do the same with citrus and nutmeg. You can add all of them if you want. They make flavor emulsions that do this already.

No one has ever been able to pick out the individual flavors, they just love it.

When people taste it, it will be a vanilla cake, but the other flavors will add a perfume and background flavor that they won't be able to quite describe.

If you are prepping for a wedding and don't have a go to recipe, trying a few different combinations makes sense.
post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by joyfuljan

The frosting is my tried and true crisco, butter flavoring, powdered sugar one I learned in Wilton class forever ago.



Congrats on the upcoming wedding. Re: your frosting. As you may know from reading the forums, Crisco changed their formulation about 2 years ago. You may find that you have a different outcome with the "old, tried-and-true" recipe from years ago.

A suggestion would be to make the frosting exactly as you remember using the new, zero-trans-fat Crisco.

Depending upon your state, the supermarkets may also carry a supermarket brand of white shortening that still contains 2-3 grams of trans-fat. Buy one and make the same recipe with the shortening WITH trans-fat. See which one you like best.
post #6 of 9
I haven't used a mix is forever, so can't really comment on the flavor of them these days, but I agree with the last post about using some almond with vanilla. I use about 3/4 vanilla and 1/4 almond, just for depth of flavor.

Also, I tend to use the cake as more of a backdrop to the fillings, so I generally don't want them to be too prominent. The last wedding cake I did was three layers of white cake with a layer of lemon curd buttercream and a layer of raspberry buttercream in between and Swiss Meringue buttercream icing. It got rave reviews from the bride.

You can make buttercream out of lots of different bases just by whipping unsalted butter in by tablespoonful until you get the consistency of buttercream. Custard and curds being the ones that come to mind. I love to make a coconut custard (make with canned coconut milk instead of milk or half and half) then make it into a buttercream with a splash of rum.

I'll also use the couple's favorite cocktail as inspiration and maybe soak the cake with a boozey sugar syrup and mix in liquers and fruits/citrus into SMBC or IMBC for the filling. One I did was for a couple that loved Bourbon Old Fashioneds, so I put bourbon in the syrup and made a cherry buttercream filling with bitters and orange zest backnotes. It was awesome!

(As you can tell, I get into the flavors almost more than the decorating!)

Don't be afraid to experiement, it's how the best things come about! Good luck, and congratulations.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for the wonderful input.

I will add more vanilla and a tad of almond and give that a trial run. I am sure it will taste much better.

I had no idea about the change in crisco as I never buy it. Just looked at the can I bought and it has 0 trans fats. We all noticed the frosting was a little different. Will see if I can find a store brand and try that.

So many changes in products!! I truly appreciate all your help!
post #8 of 9
Hi Jan,

Also, check out LorAnn's buttery sweet dough emulsion. I sometimes add in a teaspoon to batters. To me, it's better than the butter extract (which I can't stand).

Congratulations on your daughter's marriage!
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
We have a winner!! Used DH butter cake mix with extender. Added 3/4 tbsp of the butter dough emulsion for flavoring. The layers were wonderful. Switched out the crisco for the store brand shortening in the frosting. Much better. Thanks everyone for the wonderful advice!!
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