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Something weird is going on - hard gelantinous spongey bottom to my cake layers.

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I tried a new, to me, yellow butter cake recipe tonight and something weird happened that I've never seen before.  On the bottom of the layer is an odd hard gelantinous spongey layer.  This happened anywhere in the bottom 1/4 inch of the layer, on the 6 inch layers and on the bottom 1/3 layer of the 8 inch layers.  I just took the 10 inch pans out of the oven, so I haven't checked those to see if they have the same problem.

The recipe I tried in the "High Yield Yellow Cake" from Toba Garrett's Professional Cake Decorating book.  I know the temperature in my oven is correct because I use an oven thermomater.  I used Magi-Cake strips on my 8 inch and 10 inch cake pans, but not on my 6 inch pans. 

The recipe calls to fully cool the cake in the pan.  Now I didn't do this with the 6 and 8 inch layers.  I let them cool down for about an hour before turning them out of the pans.  I'll let the 10 inch layers cool over night in the pan and check them in the morning and see if they have the same weird thing going on. 

Now, I did notice when I mixed this cake, the batter looked "curdled" after I added the buttermilk/egg/vanilla mixture.  Could this have created that weird base I'm seeing?  It happened both times I mixed the batter.

I use Daddio pans and I weighed my ingredients.  Eggs, butter, milk and buttermilk were at room temperature.  

Here's the recipe, if it helps.

Oven preheated to 325F.  Baking times for the 8 inch was 45-50 minutes.  The 10 inch was 60-70 minutes.  I baked the 6 inch at about 35 minutes.

1 lb, 6 ounces    cake flour
2 lb                    granulated sugar
2T                      baking powder
1 t                      salt
1 lb                     unsalted butter, very soft
8 oz                    whole milk
16 oz                   buttermilk - used whole buttermilk
2 t                       vanilla extract
20 oz                   eggs
as needed            vegetable spray

The cake is made using the creaming method.  All dry ingredients put together and mixed, then butter is added and then the whole milk.  Then the buttermilk/eggs/vanilla mixture is added in 4 stages. 

When I weighed the eggs, 20 oz was between 11 and 12 eggs.  So I used 12.  My pans were buttered and floured and parchment paper lined the inside bottom.  I did lightly spray the parchment with Baking Joy - could that have done it?

I really like the taste, texture and crumb of the top part of this cake and hope y'all may have some suggestions to correct what's going on. 

Beth
post #2 of 17
I'm wondering if the recipe called for such deep layers.  It might just have been too deep for the structure of the cake to hold up. 

Curdling is natural in many cake batters and I've never seen it result in this dense bottom to a layer. 

It might have needed more beating.  You actually didn;t use the creaming method, which would have meant beating sugar and butter together first.  The method you used usually requires a couple of minutes beating to create enough gluten to sustain the cake  in rising (so i understand - others more chemically oriented can tell you better). 

Did it call for cake flour or did you decide to use it?  It could be that the flour is not strong enough for the quantity of butter.  I have that problem using american recipes in italy, where the flour is weaker (Iess gluten) and have to reduce the butter and increase the flour. 

The spray shouldn;t have done this.  I've never seen it with spray.  It's happened to me, but because of the flour proportion. 

Of course, the recipe could have not been tested, I don't know the cookbook. 
"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 17
Thread Starter 
My mistake, I actually used the "biscuit" method.  The 10 inch layers were fully cooled before I went to bed, so I cut out a core and checked it.  The same thing happened, but it was more like spots, not a layer.  I got to thinking, and I'm wondering if what I'm seeing is due to unincorporated egg whites.  I'm thinking that I didn't whisk my eggs enough and still had strings and bits of egg whites when I added the egg/buttermilk/vanilla mix to the rest of the mixture.

The recipe calls for cake flour and called for using 2" deep pans.  The first batch I made I followed the recipe exactly as written since it was my first go at it. The second and third batches, I halved the original recipe because my mixer handles smaller batches better.
post #4 of 17
Anytime you have a recipe that you've used successfully which suddenly starts to go haywire, the first thing to check is the baking powder.  Unless you know for sure yours is up to snuff -- and not just by checking the use by date -- replace it.

It seems to me that the problem likely is that the cake isn't getting enough loft on the bottom because the leavening isn't strong enough to lift it under the weight of the top.

The "creaming method" as you describe it is screwy.  If you did it the way you wrote it, it's very likely the butter wasn't fully incoroporated into the "drys."  First cream the butter.  Then you cream the sugar into the butter, creaming it very well.  Then add the rest of the dry ingredients to it in batches.  With the butter and sugar well creamed, the flour should go in fairly easily, especially if it's been sifted.

About those eggs: the less than fully beaten eggs might have been the problem or a part of it.  For one thing, you can get a lot of air into eggs, and your batter seems to have been too heavy in one way or another.  I'd start the wet mixture by beating the eggs until their color lightens (to "lemon") before whisking in the buttermilk and vanilla. 

What do fresh baking powder; proper sequence and enough creaming; sifting; and beating the eggs to lemon have in common?  They're all good, fundamental technique for lightening a cake.  At least they won't make things worse. 

Hope this helps,
BDL
Edited by boar_d_laze - 3/16/10 at 9:54am
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post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

The "creaming method" as you describe it is screwy.  If you did it the way you wrote it, it's very likely the butter wasn't fully incoroporated into the "drys."  First cream the butter.  Then you cream the sugar into the butter, creaming it very well.  Then add the rest of the dry ingredients to it in batches.  With the butter and sugar well creamed, the flour should go in fairly easily, especially if it's been sifted.

BDL

Hi BDL
it's rare i can pull on greater knowledge than you but the technique (not creaming method, as bohunk clarified)  is very similar to the technique used in The Cake Bible.  Most of the cakes there are made mixing the dry ingredients (including sugar) - adding butter at room temperature (really soft but not melted, if your room is cold!) and a small part of the liquid.  It's beaten for two full minutes, as she says, "to build structure" .  It was the first i'd ever heard of beating a cake once the flour is added, except for italian cakes, but italian cakes are always dry and have wormholes through them because, I believe, of the beating.  But in this case it's mostly butter being beaten in.)   Then you add the eggs and the rest of the liquid in three parts, beating 20 seconds after each.  I also had the same method in, of all things, my old 1950s edition of the betty crocker cookbook (the cake recipes of which, I swear, are foolproof).  They called it "New method". 

I recognize the effect of the cake having a gummy bottom part from my own cakes before I learned to adapt my american cakes to italian flour - so maybe there is a flour problem? or butter problem?  Or could it just be too wet?  I have no feel for the proportions in cakes using such large quantities.   I also noticed it in recipes that are not well tested.
"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.'"
Reply
"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 #6 of 17
Thanks Siduri.  I missed or misunderstood that Beth (BoHunk) was using the "biscuit method" as opposed to the "creaming method."  I stand by my analysis that her method made for lousy creaming.  Alas, that wasn't the point.

I don't know much about the method you ladies are on to, so I've got nothing to add to the discussion other than "check your baking powder." 

It's not easy being stupid, but you have to admit I'm rather good at it.

Love,
BDL
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http://www.cookfoodgood.com
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What were we talking about?
 
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post #7 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

It's not easy being stupid, but you have to admit I'm rather good at it.

Love,
BDL

Come on, BDL, that's just a comment that invites an "oh no you're not"!!
"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.'"
Reply
"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.'"
Reply
post #8 of 17
Siduri if you're insinuating that I'm not above fishing -- insinuate no more.  You're right.  However, there's no getting around it.  I did make a donkey of myself and was hoping to extricate hoof from mouth with a modicum of grace.

BDL 
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http://www.cookfoodgood.com
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What were we talking about?
 
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post #9 of 17
Watch that hoof in mouth disease - I hear they won't let you get through customs!
"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.'"
Reply
"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.'"
Reply
post #10 of 17
I am not familiar with Toba's cakes, altho my "go to" buttercream recipe is written by her. That said, looks like a LOT going on in this one. IMO the amt of sugar and liquid is huge with that amt of flour. (and the use of cake flour only makes the structure weaker). The cooling time has nothing to do with the problem as the cake was "set" when done. Curdling..ehh, not unusual. Why did you bake at 325? This cake needed a blast of heat right from the beginning to give the leavening some oomph. Me thinks the cake was "stewed" rather than baked, giving all the ingredients time to seperate (and the heavy things sank to bottom)  before heat activated things. IMO the bake strips only made things worse. Will you try it again? Maybe I can pick up this cookbook at the library and give it a whirl. OBTW...did you taste it after it was cooled? I would love to know what the flavor (and texture) in the "bottom" of layer was like.
post #11 of 17
All those things you say make sense to me, dillonsmini.  I hadn't noticed the temp, good point.  And the flour and wetness.
"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.'"
Reply
"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.'"
Reply
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
It was the first time I had made this particular recipe and the directions specified to cook at 325F.  8" for 45 - 50 minutes, 10" for 60 - 70 minutes and 12" for 70 - 80 minutes.  I did taste the cake after it cooled down and it was quite flavorful even the thickened bottom.  The thickened bottom tasted like the rest of the cake and the texture was like a cake flavored jello, quite bendable. 

I wound up going with a different yellow cake recipe for the wedding cake I delivered today.  But I think I will try this again with some changes suggested here.
post #13 of 17
Good decision. As you are an experienced baker you already know to not throw good money after bad. Like I mentioned, I am not familiar with Garret's cake, but really like her decorator buttercream (made with HR shortening) and her skill with the piping bag is unmatched.  same with MS's recipes. Her cakes are so pretty because she uses a professional sugar artist for the actual decorating. My fave recipes are usually found in CBs written by "church ladies" lolol.
post #14 of 17

I firstly would like to say that I am so relieved that someone else is having this problem because I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

 

I have been using this recipe for a year now and it was great at first. As I used it more and became comfortable with the recipe, I started making (seemingly) minor alterations and as a result, I have the bottom half of my layers coming out hard, gelatinous, and unappetizing. I tried to take a few steps back in my method to pinpoint the issue with no avail.

 

However, the one part that I did change that I was reluctant to re-test was my blending time. There was one day when I first started making the cake that it shrank a great deal after it cooled, which looking back, could have been the result of several factors, but my immediate thought was that I was over-mixing the batter, even though I had been religious following her timing instructions before with no problems. So I gradually decreased the mixing time with a less appealing cake in the end.

 

I have not yet tested my theory, but reading about mixing to give it "structure" makes a lot of sense now and that is what I intend to do with my next batch.

 

Now, I must reiterate how much better I feel that I am not the only person having an issue with this recipe.

 

I will report back with results!

 

Happy baking!

post #15 of 17

When I was a little girl my first foray into the kitchen was to make jello.

Being inexperienced, I did not really know that "hot" water was so... HOT!

My jello creations always had this strange rubbery layer on the bottom (undissolved gelatin)

Flash forward to this thread.

No gelatin in the OP's recipe.

Have not seen mel's but am assuming the same for hers.

Egg whites will sort of mimic gelatin.

Egg whites that have not been properly broken either before or during the whole process combined with the "free floating" sugar (creaming the butter and sugar until it becomes light (white) and "fluffy" will "marry"/or bind the two and take care of the sweet part of the strange layer ) will certainly create this sort of "bad jello layer".

My advice would be for the OP (who has no doubt moved on in her life, lol) to follow the recipes ingredient AND mixing methods.

Mel, why try to fix something that is not broken?

post #16 of 17
Your problem stems from using too much baking powder. Shirley Corriher has a wonderfully helpful section in her book BakeWise that explains how using too much baking powder will cause cakes to sink and form this gummy layer. She also gives a guideline ratio of 1 teaspoon baking powder to 4.4 ounces of flour for most cakes. She also explains that as the size of the cake (and surface area) increases, even less baking powder is needed.
If you use cake flour, even less leavening is called for -especially if you are using self rising cake flour.
From my quick calculations, you're recipe calls for about 1 teaspoon too much. Try decreasing the leavening by 1 teaspoon and I'll bet your cake will come out quite nicely.

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Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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post #17 of 17

Did not know that, foodnphoto.

You are always slipping in a little nugget of wisdom.

I thank you.

 

mimi

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