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What makes a cake dry?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
My recipe was as follows:

1 Cup Chocolate Chips (I chose Hershey)
3/4 Cup butter
1.5 cups granulated sugar (I used 1 cup Domino, .5 cup Splenda)
3 Eggs
2 Tsps pure vanilla extract
2.5 cups all purpose flour (I used Swans Down)
1 Tsp baking soda (I used baking powder)
1/2 Tsp salt
1.5 cups H2O (I used one cup...my first attempt with 1.5 cups made my batter like water)

Bake at 350 for 40-45 mins

any idea on where I went wrong?

My buttercream icing however was phenomenal...probably one of those things you can't screw up tho. :)
post #2 of 8
I don;t know your recipe and you didn;t mention what technique you used, creaming the butter and sugar then adding egs, then the dry and wet alternately? Or mixing all the dry including the sugar, adding the butter and some of the liquid and eggs and mixing, then the rest of the liquid and mixing? Or beating eggs with sugar, adding melted butter, then dry and wet ingredients? they all have different results. But anyway, the problem is probably not the method.

I see a couple of major problems that would detract from moistness (and keep in mind i'm a home cook, no training, and i'm sure there are others out there who can give you much more precise indications)

1. One thing that makes cakes moist is SUGAR and you took away part of the sugar, a large part. Spenda may be "sweet" but it;s not sugar, and it while it will make the cake sweet, it won;t do what sugar does (ask the chemists how it does) to make the cake moist.

2. Second, you've eliminated a large part of the liquid. The batter might be very wet, but unless the recipe is untested and just something some random person put on internet, approximating the measures, or making typos, it was all designed for that amount of water (water in a white cake is strange to me, unless it was chocolate cake and you melted the chips? usually you would use milk, but anyway...)

3, Third you don;t say if it's two layers or one large rectangular cake. For layers (round 9 inch diameter) 45 minutes is too much (though might have been required if the batter had been watery.

Maybe secondarily, you had a problem with wetness with the full liquid measure because you used cake flour instead of regular all purpose flour. (I think this is negligible but could have added to the problem)
Also baking powder and baking soda are not interchangeable in the same quantities. You need less soda, and there has to be an acid in the batter (buttermilk, yoghurt, some fruit, brown sugar or molasses) to activate the leavening qualities of the soda). But i think this may not have made the cake dry, but may have made it flat, not sure.

Where did you get this recipe?
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
The recipe came from bakedecoratecelebrate.com
Under recipes, chocolate cake

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray pan with vegetable pan spray.
Melt 1 cup chocolate chips and butter together either in microwave oven or on top of range over low heat. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Pour into electric mixer bowl.
Add sugar; beat until well blended. Beat in eggs, one at time. Add vanilla. Stir in 1/2 cup flour, baking soda and salt; mix well. Add remaining flour and water; mix until smooth. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 40-45 minutes or until cake tests done. Place pan on cooling rack. Cool completely in pan before covering.


It was a two layer round cake. I tried to tweek the recipe a little because my first attempt didn't rise and was also dry. Then substituted with splenda because I was out of Domino and had already started and wanted to see the results anyway. I'd read somewhere that baking powder is better than baking soda when making a cake. And the flour substitute was my mother's idea being that the first cake didn't rise and there were bits of flour visible in the cake after using the all purpose. And the water shortage, like I said, was due to the first batch being watered down so much. The batter litterally was like water and having only ever done box cakes prior to this i thought maybe I was doing something wrong or it was just too much water.
post #4 of 8
Thanks, ambernicole,
I think that maybe the recipe isn;t great, and if it's your first cake ever from scratch, you should use a tried and true recipe from a cookbook that's guaranteed to work. Othyerwise you'll be put off of scratch baking and be one of those people who thinks scratch cakes never come out good.

First of all, I wouldn;t use chocolate chips if the chocolate is to be melted. They contain something that has the function of not making the chocolate melt too much so it holds its shape when warm. I'd use a recipe that calls for cocoa, unsweetened baking chocolate or semi sweet baking chocolate.

I did also notice that you said you baked it in two layers, rather than the one large pan the recipe indicates, and so you should definitely have adjusted the baking times. Small pans take less time. Watch the cake, when it's risen and the top maybe shows some small indication of separating from the sides, then touch the top lightly - it should offer some resistance and not leave a dent. Then if you want to be sure, stick a toothpick into the center - it should come out clean or with a crumb or two attached (more moist) but not with any wet spots.

here is a tried and true test kitchen recipe (betty crocker cookbook 1950) that would be a great place to begin. Try not to substitute anything - it's hard to tweak baking recipes, and you should try it first as is.

Popular devils food cake

Preheat oven to 350
grease and flour a 13 X 9 inch cake pan or two round 9 inch diameter cake pans
(I grease the pan, line the bottom with parchment paper cut to fit, and grease the paper, then flour)

cfream together :

2/3 cup butter (not melted, but it's less work if it;s been out of the fridge a bit)
1 1/2 cups sugar


beat in, one at a time, beating well after each:

3 eggs or for more moistness, 2 plus two yolks

mix together with a whisk in a separate bowl or large measuring cup:

2 1/2 cups cake flour or 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp soda
1 tsp salt

stir in, alternating in 3 parts with:

1 1/4 cup buttermilk, milk or water
(water gives a more chocolatey taste)

pour into prepared pans, bake small round layers (9 in) for 30 - 35 min
bake rectangular large pan 40 - 45 min
or till tests done

See how that works
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much. I'll give it a go this weekend and let ya'll know how it turns out!
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
I was told to add box pudding mix to add moisture to cakes. Is this possible?
post #7 of 8
Yes, but it adds a lot more sugar- again, sugar is a liquid ingredient (it melts).

This popped up at me: I'm a home cook who's taken up baking in just the past couple of years but one important thing I've learned here is MISE EN PLACE, or set out/measure out everything before starting the recipe. The shortage of sugar would have been known to you then, and you might have either made the cake later or sought a remedy beforehand. :)
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post #8 of 8
you could add pudding mix, but as mezzaluna says, it's adding sugar, and anyway, if you want to use boxed ingredients with all their additives, then I say just make a boxed cake. But if you want to get into making cakes from scratch, use all from scratch ingredients. I think you just need some good cookbooks and good recioes.,
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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