What am I doing wrong??
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As is oft written, providing the recipe would really help.
Perhaps too much leavening, perhaps too small of a pan, and perhaps beating too much and creating too much of a gluten structure... or some/all of the above.
Edited by durangojo - 10/5/13 at 1:55pm
What technique did you use - cream butter and sugar, add eggs, stir in milk and dry ingredients?
or melt butter, mix all ingredients together?
or soften butter to room temp, mix eggs with milk, add butter to flour with a bit of eggs/milk, beat, add the rest of eggs and milk...
It looks to me like you may have used the second method. It's the method used most often in Italy, and the cakes here often look like that
maybe the recipe is just not very good. It's strange to have only 2 tbsp of cocoa in a cake - kind of pale, not very chocolatey
Hahaha, it seems all the mistakes you´re mentioning I actually did them!! Thank you all for your answers and the time you´re taking to read and answer!!
Okay, it was a recipe from a friend. I´ve used it several times and it turns out rather tasty and the cake is spongy and nice. The only detail is that it always cracks, and this time I just had to ask!
The butter was at room temperature, but I did cream it, then added sugar. Then the eggs (room temp) one by one. After that, the flour (mixed with the baking powder) and milk (may have been cold) alternatively, ending with flour. My friend said the chocolate should be to my taste, and I just changed my chocolate powder so I only added what I thought would be enough ( I have yet to taste it, but it does look pale).
Oven was preheated at 350, but I know it runs a little hot so after I put the cake in for around half hour, I decreased it at 330. Middle rack, did turn it, just in case. In total it took 65min when the toothpick came out clean. I used a springform pan because all I have are those , one rectangular a bundt cake pan. This pan was 11in in diameter.
I did not rest the batter, I ´ve read that it´s not good because the leavening agents start working as soon as mixed with liquids.
So....what would you change to improve this recipe and get around the same amount of batter? About the technique, also any mistakes? I try to read a lot about cakes, but I´ve never been able to get rid of the cracking at the top (it´s quite delicious, since it´s kind of crunchy, but it´s not good for frosting since I have to serrate a great part of the cake in order to have it leveled).
Ok, well it sounds like it's a good cake, and your only problem is the cracking and perhaps mounding.
First of all, i never bought that idea that a frosted cake has to be flat on top. Why? what's wrong with a dome-topped cake? I admit it may be more difficult to decorate, but not that much more. It can be quite nice.
One thing i would suggest is to bake it in two 9-inch layer cake pans. That way it will not have to rise that much upward (ok, that is completely intuitive, and i don't know if there's any science behind it, but i know that most of the tall cakes i make, like in a loaf pan, tend to crack (though there is something appealing in the crack in a loaf cake.
I'd recommend replacing more of the flour with cocoa.
The creaming method is a good one and doesn't usually pose any problems, as long as you don;t beat it after the addition of the flour. In the soft butter added to the flour first method, the butter prevents it from being tough, i think, but with the melted butter and everything mixed at once (the italian way) you almost can't help mixing too much and producing gluten. But then besides the rounded top like that, you'd also have little wormhole-like channels in the cake when you cut into it, and it would be tough and dry (as, sadly, most home made cakes are here because of the method.
Now for the temperature, they sell these strips to pin around the outside of the pan to prevent mounding - you wet them and pin them on. You can also wet newspaper - several layers, in a strip the height of the pan, and wrapped in foil. pin it around (don;t tape it! it goes in the oven)
Now the fact that these strips keep the rim of the cake cooler makes me think that maybe if your oven tends to be too hot, to bake it right from the beginning at a lower temp. In fact, now that i think of it, most thick cakes (pound cake cooked in a loaf pan) are baked at a lower temperature. But maybe some of the baking chemists out there can help you better in this.
what kind of pan (s) does he use?
thank you again for your answers!
It definitely needs improving! Taste wasn´t so bad, but now that I´ve paused and detailed the cake very critically I understand that it could be so much better! It is dense and it could be so much more chocolatey.
I will try to make the changes you suggest, and see the results. Any links to a trustworthy good basic chocolate cake recipe?
I never told my friend about the cake. I was okay with the cracking before I had kids, because I thought it gave the cake a nice touch. I started finding it a problem after I decided I could do my own children´s birthday cakes. Now, I rather use this forum to ask my cakes questions :)
Again, I am very grateful for your time in answering!
There are tons of great cake recipes.
One that is pretty easy and reliable is from an old cookbook, the betty crocker cookbook from the 50s, before mix cakes and convenience foods took over. This is a very simple easy chocolate layer cake. It's moist and dark and above all foolproof. For what i consider an even better cake but slightly trickier, i would recommend the american chocolate butter cake from Levi Beranbaum's Cake Bible.
here's the easier one:
Black Devil's Food Cake
grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans - or grease, line the base with a circle of baking parchment and grease that
preheat oven to 350
- 2/3 cup butter
- 1 2/3 cup sugar
Beat in one at a time :
- 3 eggs
Blend together in another bowl:
- 2/3 cups cocoa
- 1 1/3 cup cold water
- 1 tsp vanilla
Sift together in another bowl
- 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour or 2 cups sifted all purpose flour
- 1/3 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
Stir this into the butter mixture alternately - half the flour mixture, mix delicately by hand only as much as necessary to incorporate almost completely,
then half the cocoa mixture, mix again barely enough to incorporate
half of the remaining flour mixture
the remaining cocoa mixture
the remaining flour mixture
pour into prepared pans, bake at 350 for 30 - 35 min
.... I deleted my post about the eggs as it seemed confusing so therefore not good advice. I live at 8500 ft where eggs can be funny creatures! Baking in general is challenging at these rarified heights.
Edited by durangojo - 10/8/13 at 7:35am
If you do make rose beranbaums chocolate cake, please do it just as the recipe is written. She is the high priestess of baking, especially cakes and if she says to add one egg at at time, then do just that.