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Please help! White dots on surface of butter cake?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hello, I'm a baking enthusiast who is hoping to sell my butter cake at farmers markets soon. I have never had any problem baking in my home oven, but the past few times I have practiced at a commercial kitchen I've had problems with the appearance of my butter cake. After a few hours, little white spots appear on the surface of the cupcakes. They get worse as time progresses. I have tried changing so many things but can't seem to solve the problem. I usually use organic sugar, so thought maybe it was the coarseness of the sugar not dissolving in the liquids which caused the spots so I warmed the milk and dissolved the sugar in it. Still spots appeared. I thought it may be the high heat of the commercial oven, so I baked it at a lower temperature and longer time..this made the dots worse. When I make this cake, i mix the wet and dry ingredients, then stir in melted butter. i haven't changed any ingredients or changed my mixing process, I've simply started baking at a commercial kitchen...the only thing I do differently is opening the oven during baking. The commercial oven is much stronger so usually my cupcakes start to rise toward the heat source, or the cupcakes along the edge get darker faster so I have to open their oven and turn the pans around..could this somehow cause spots?? I cannot figure this out and so cannot apply for markets anymore until I do. Please, any suggestions are appreciated!
post #2 of 6

I'm just a home baker but was curious myself.  I googled "white spots on cake tops" and found the following.  However, it doesn't address the issue of the commercial oven.  Hope one of the pros here can help! 

Sugary tops or white spots on cakes:

  1. Too much sugar
  2. Not enough liquid (to dissolve the sugar)
  3. Sugar too coarse (to be fully dissolved)
  4. Cakes standing too long before going in the oven. This allows moisture to escape from the top of the cake, and leaves sugar residue in the batter.



post #3 of 6

Most cakes, muffins, biscuits and cookies are made from two primary mixing methods:

- The "Two-Bowl Method" (aka Muffin Method): This mixing method is used primarily when a liquid fat is being used, typically oil but sometimes melted butter. This mixing method has the dry ingredients done in one bowl with a well made in the center so that the liquid ingredients can be added. Mixing the wet and dry ingredients separate from one another allows each type to be thoroughly mixed/blended without fear of overmixing and thus toughening the texture. Toughness is due to agitation when water-based liquids are introduced to wheat flour. The well in the center of dry ingredients allows the dry ingredients to be folded over on top of the liquid and then gently incorporated just until mixed. Adding the liquid flat on top or the flour on top of the liquid would lead to overmixing.

- The "Creaming Method": This mixing method is used for items where a finer crumb is desired (cakes, fine crumbed muffins..typically blueberry)and uses solid fats that are creamed with sugar for aeration and then have the flavorings added (added to the fat as most extracts are oil soluble and distribute flavor better in the fat rather than water based ingredients) followed by eggs. Finally the milk and dry ingredients are usually added alternately, starting and ending with the flour. The creaming method produces a finer more tender crumb due to:

  • higher ratio of fat to flour (more fat = tenderness)

  • more sugar used than in the "two-bowl" method. Sugar is a tenderizing agent (among many other things)due to its hygroscopic nature (ability to attract moisture from surrounding atmosphere. 

    Adding the flour first helps to coat the proteins (gluten) with fat so that it can't form strong bonds with other gluten strands, thus "shortening" the gluten strands and producing a more tender cake. If liquid is introduced first, the gluten won't be lubricated as well by the fat and if too much liquid is added to the fat (particularly if it the liquid isn't at room temperature) it can cause the fat to clump and the mix will appear curdled. This will lead to a coarser texture in the cake. The liquid needs to be emulsified in the fat rather than having the fat surrounded by the liquid.


- from recipe developer, teacher and professional Chef Darin Sehnert


I am noticing that you are mixing cupcakes with the two-bowl (or muffin method) of mixing. I would try the creaming method and see where that takes you. Also, if the commercial oven is gas it then adds more humidity to the game so you might find that by creaming your ingredients will give you a more consistent product. 

post #4 of 6
What do these spots taste like?

My first thought was to say be sure to sift your drys together as sometimes the leavenings form tiny crumbs/balls if exposed to moisture ie humidity.
Same with the sugar.

But what it all boils down to the taste, right?
Can you make a dozen or them then send them out for a taste test.
We are our own worst critics but if the problem is solved by a bit of smoke and mirrors IMO all is well.

As @Fablesable mentioned butter cakes start with the butter and sugar being creamed to pale and fluffy.
All I can add is to start off with the butter frozen and cut into chunks.
The heat of the machine will soften the butter and you are more likely to get a fluffy texture.
Room temp fat sort of just melts trapping the sugar and not much incorporation( dissolved sugar) takes place before it is deemed ready for the eggs .

Sorry that's all I have but maybe it will ring some bells lol.

post #5 of 6

Bolt159, I hope you can resolve it.  Sounds like good help from Fablesable and flipflopgirl.


Oh, the science of baking!:crazy:

post #6 of 6

This might have already been said. Try your formula with a better sugar or flour. During the baking process most  of the impurities rise to the top. The skin is sweeter and some people really like this. For me, I can do without the roach parts and such.

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