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Cake Questions

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Hello! I have a few questions about cakes if anyone would mind sharing knowledge. These may be simple questions but i just dont know them. I have a book called The Professional Pastry Chef by Fridberg, Fourth Edition. It has sponge cake recipes, chiffon cakes, and a Devil food Chocolate cake recipe i made recently. Doesn't contain a regular chocolate cake recipe, or vanilla cake recipe. Leads me to the question, is there a difference between say the Devils food chocolate cake, and a regular chocolate cake? Or any on the latter with other flavored cakes? 

Another question, could any cake recipe be used for a special occasion cake or as a sheet cake? Like use for a tiered wedding cake or birthday cake or whatever event? I see alot of recipes specifically named "wedding cake" or "birthday cake" and so on. (probably a very stupid question so sorry if it is a waste to you) 

Can you freeze certain cakes before icing and for how long would you say you could freeze them before taking them out and finishing them without damaging or losing flavor of the cakes?

post #2 of 24

Firstly, welcome to ChefTalk.

Secondly, there are no stupid questions. That's what's so great about this site. You can ask anything and expect a good answer.

 

As for your question, please note that cookbooks and recipes are some one else"s idea of what they think is the ideal way to make that item.

 

To that end every recipe for a chocolate cake or devil's food cake will be a little different.

Place 2 recipes side by side and go through each ingredient amounts and you'll see what I mean.

 

To bakers and pastry people the texture and consistency of the cake is very important.

For example you mentioned wedding cake vs, birthday cake, vs, sheet cake.

 

Wedding cakes must be able to hold up (pardon the pun) yet be moist and tasty.

 

A birthday cake recipe in a cookbook might be lighter or denser depending on the author of the book.

Sheet cakes as well might be texture-wise more dense or not.

 

There is no right or wrong when it comes to this kind of thing. It is always subjective....even the recipes.

 

One more bit of information:

Just because some one created a recipe in a cookbook doesn't mean it is good or tasty. That is for you to determine when you make it.

post #3 of 24

@Toffee , You are able to freeze cakes. Some freeze the layers, and some freeze the filled cakes. There are two schools of thought on freezing cake. Some Pastry Chefs will use the expression " there are no freezers in my shop"!

  Well for our operation, upscale wedding and occasion cakes, we have freezers. As a very old Pastry Chef I feel there are two ways to look at freezing. Preparation and storage. On Wedding Cakes alone, we probably produce 5-600 a year. We use the freezers as a tool for their preparation.

    Our formulas are designed to take the baked layers, cool and wrap and freeze. This is usually for an 8-16hr. period at zero to minus 5 degrees. This will actually retain most of the moisture in the layer before we cut and fill. We do not use our freezers to store anything.

For me, I have not found found a product that didn't lose some of it's integrity due to freezer storage. 

  Wedding, Birthday, Sheet Cakes are basically generic names. I feel they probably refer to the density of the cake. If your building/stacking or sculpting a cake that will require structure/density in the cake to "hold up" :>) then you would probably not use a light sponge type of cake. For beginners, I always suggest something like pound cake to start for stacking.

HTH's a little on freezing cakes.

  Welcome to ChefTalk,

As @Chefross , says, usually every formula differs. Be careful of formulas in print that do not mention that they have been tested and proved.

I have great respect for Chef Friedburg. I personally feel his publications may be a little advanced for the beginner.

   Take a minute to search here at Cheftalk for the best yellow cake recipe. You'll know the popularity of the recipe by the number of views and comment. Start with something like that. You can come back here to see how many wonderful products stem from basic cakes. It's like the comment " all sizzle and no steak". Get a good recipe/steak, and than create your sizzle. Quite a few advanced book focus on sizzle, mostly because professional books understand they are directed to people who already have the steak down.

Pan


Edited by panini - 5/12/16 at 8:02am
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post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks to you both for sharing your knowledge with me! @panini i found a few different yellow cake recipes on here, one was labeled "The perfect homemade Yellow cake" the creator of the thread combined pound cake and another yellow cake recipe. When it comes to baking i was taught that you cant really change much in the recipe without something being off so I never thought of swapping ingredients or lessening or increasing them in such ways. Would it be possible to do this with any kind of cake recipe to increase the density to make it more dense or lighter for different versions of the cake? Still rather new to baking, ive baked back in school during a course i took in High school and now currently work in a restaurant, trying to expand my knowledge on different things besides just the hot foods part. So any experience either of you can share would be most welcome!

post #5 of 24

@Toffee,

       That's a great question. The simple answer is yes and no. No, unless you understand the properties each ingredient and how they act in different settings. That's not to say you can't experiment, but without the knowledge it can be time consuming and costly if your product comes out non edible.

  I can not explain things as well as some others on the site. So I hope someone will jump on and explain my answer further.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toffee View Post
 

 When it comes to baking i was taught that you cant really change much in the recipe without something being off so I never thought of swapping ingredients or lessening or increasing them in such ways. Would it be possible to do this with any kind of cake recipe to increase the density to make it more dense or lighter for different versions of the cake? 

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post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thank you @panini I hope someone can jump on in and explain too. Id love to hear and learn more on it! 

post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by panini View Post
 

@Toffee,

       That's a great question. The simple answer is yes and no. No, unless you understand the properties each ingredient and how they act in different settings. That's not to say you can't experiment, but without the knowledge it can be time consuming and costly if your product comes out non edible.

  I can not explain things as well as some others on the site. So I hope someone will jump on and explain my answer further.

At work we do this all the time.

But I must preface this by explaining that some recipes can not be doubled or tripled without some kind of a problem. These recipes I relegate to the fact that I must simply make the recipe as is, three times.

 

I review 2-3 recipes for the same cake and compare measurements.

I can look at the amounts and from experience can tell where I can substitute one ingredient for another.

A simple example would be the substitution of liquid amounts.

If for example, an orange cake calls for water, you could sub orange juice.

You could sub molasses for corn syrup if you wanted a more full flavor.

 

Instead of all purpose flour, I can use unbleached whole wheat pastry flour. Experience (and a few bloopers) showed me how much to sub and with what effects.

 

There are on the internet sites you can access that can show you some of this.

 

http://www.ragu.com/our-recipeshttp://

 

dish.allrecipes.com/common-ingredient-substitutions/

 

http://www.myrecipes.com/how-to/ingredient-substitutions

post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 

@Chefross Thank you! I know a little about substitutions but not to that degree. Didnt think of fruit juice to replace water in some things. Ill have to try that out! If looking at a recipe, could you possibly sub different flours to make it a stronger or lighter cake? Like if a recipe calls for just say cake flour, could you split it and add some bread flour or another kind of flour for more strength? Or use a weaker lighter flour like pastry flour to make it lighter and vary different proportions for different outcomes, or use a different fat or more or less eggs or use just egg whites or yolks or would that change the recipe too much and make in inedible? And how would you know what recipes you can't double is there anything specific to look for or just try it and see? 

post #9 of 24

Toffee:

 

"If looking at a recipe, could you possibly sub different flours to make it a stronger or lighter cake? Like if a recipe calls for just say cake flour, could you split it and add some bread flour or another kind of flour for more strength? Or use a weaker lighter flour like pastry flour to make it lighter and vary different proportions for different outcomes

 

Different flours are used for different recipes because of their individual properties."

 

In bread baking for instance, a hi-gluten bread flour gives a better crumb and "mouth feel" then does all purpose flour.

Just 4 ingredients (water, flour, yeast, and salt) can make a great loaf of French bread.

Alternately, all purpose flour, eggs, sugar, salt, yeast, milk, and butter make a great toasting bread.

Cake flour is more refined then all purpose and allows for better lighter cakes like sponge or Genoise.

If you tried using cake flour to bake bread with, you'd notice a difference right off.

 

"... or use a different fat or more or less eggs or use just egg whites or yolks or would that change the recipe too much and make in inedible?"

 

Eggs have their place as well. The yolks give richness in flavor and also chemically binds ingredients together. The whites are a rising agent, as well as a binder.

In some recipes you may be able to leave out the yolk and go with whites, but the liquid derived from the yolk must be replaced in the recipe with another.

 

Here's a sub that I figured out. I'm sure it's not original, but I use mayonnaise, an extra egg and sugar as my base for muffins.To this I'll add the flour, baking powder/soda and fruit.

 

 

"And how would you know what recipes you can't double is there anything specific to look for or just try it and see? "

 

You can't by reading the recipe but here are a few guidelines:

 

Any recipe that requires you you separate egg yolk from whites, where the whites are beaten stiff to fold in later.

Any recipe that requires spices heavy in cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves

Bread recipes that won't fit into the machine you are using to knead the dough

post #10 of 24

@Toffee I believe @panini was wanting to expand on was about the science of baking. (don't want to assume though Panini so correct me if I am wrong)

 

Baking is a science. It leans heavy in the chemistry department with some physics thrown in. In order to be substituting anything you need to know the why's of all the ingredients you use in a recipe. I have explained this many times in other threads so you can look those up or I would suggest to invest in Professional Baking by Wayne Gisslen as it explains step by step, ingredient by ingredient why you use them as well as clarify's methods and proper techniques to get you the end result you are looking for. Once you understand all of that, move on to Ratio: The simple codes behind the craft of everyday cooking by Michael Ruhlman. This will further your baking AND cooking as these are learning TEXTBOOKS with some recipes in it rather than a recipe book with a few tips in it. 

 

In the end, trial and error is the best way to learn however, knowing the how and why's on the use of each ingredient and the method in which to use them cuts down on the mass amount of frustration and disappointment not to mention the costs of failure. :D

post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fablesable View Post
 

@Toffee I believe @panini was wanting to expand on was about the science of baking. (don't want to assume though Panini so correct me if I am wrong)

 

Baking is a science. It leans heavy in the chemistry department with some physics thrown in. In order to be substituting anything you need to know the why's of all the ingredients you use in a recipe. I have explained this many times in other threads so you can look those up or I would suggest to invest in Professional Baking by Wayne Gisslen as it explains step by step, ingredient by ingredient why you use them as well as clarify's methods and proper techniques to get you the end result you are looking for. Once you understand all of that, move on to Ratio: The simple codes behind the craft of everyday cooking by Michael Ruhlman. This will further your baking AND cooking as these are learning TEXTBOOKS with some recipes in it rather than a recipe book with a few tips in it. 

 

In the end, trial and error is the best way to learn however, knowing the how and why's on the use of each ingredient and the method in which to use them cuts down on the mass amount of frustration and disappointment not to mention the costs of failure. :D

@Toffee.

      I was a little hurried when I posted. @Fablesable information is great. As I was posting I was trying to think of books to recommend. I'm old so it's been a long time since I've opened one. Although I have most in my library. The books recommended are good ones and I'm sure you can pick them up cheap at Amazon used. I don't think it's necessary to get the latest version of a book. Someone may differ, but this baking thing has been going on for a long time. I don't see many new basic informational findings coming out.

  I couldn't think of a book, but had two people in mind. Many years ago I had the privilege of spending time in a bakeshop with Joe Amendola and also some time with Yves Thuries. They are on the top of my list for the knowledge I received from both. Especially basics. Not to mention the greatest people I've met in the industry. I know Joe had written  books, as well as Yves. I just couldn't remember the names. The books mentioned above are very good, but if interested you may want to track down Joe's book on Understanding Baking. Try to find one his earlier editions, the revised and updated versions are different. It came out in the early 70's, or his book The Bakers' Manual, he wrote that early on. I had those to books with me where ever I went in my first 10 yrs. in the bus. If you can't find a copy, PM me and I'm sure I have extras somewhere. They were my required reading for any intern I accepted.

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post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 

Oh wow thank you all for the responses! @Chefross Thank you! I was saying things about different flours because I've seen a few recipes both in the books I have and around the internet of cakes using different flours like bread flour was used in a recent cake i baked along with cake flour was thinking maybe it could be mixed around to take the properties of each. Wasn't thinking of bread baking when i posted that sorry if i came off with that. Thank you very much for sharing all this! Its greatly appreciated! @Fablesable Thank you for the recommended books! I have Professional Cooking Sixth Edition by Gisslen from when I was in a side school in Highschool. Was unaware they had one just on baking. I plan on this coming winter getting work in a bakery while my work in the restaurant i work at dies down and pick the brains of everyone i can. Ill see what i can get! @panini Thank you! The experience to work with them must of been great! Im still young i hope i get such opportunities in my lifetime. Amazon has  Understanding Baking: The Art and Science of Baking by Joseph, and Baker's Manual (5th Edition) both relatively cheap. Yves Thuries book The Classic and Contemporary Recipes of Yves Thuries: French Pastry. Is this the one you were referring too? Seems to be a very positive book. I actually have been eyeballing it for a while on and off, was gonna pick it up once i got the money, pricey one though. at $150 used and 300+ new must be a very detailed and good book. Thank you all for your input and sharing of knowledge! You all have been most helpful! 

post #13 of 24
Ur the best.great questions. Wilton books has great recipies for cakes and frostings. Any cakes will freeze wrapped properly. I hope i helped i know bout cheesecake too. Lots of cakes as well.
post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 

@Cheesecake1 Thank you :) please share anything you can! Id greatly appreciate it! 

post #15 of 24
Welcome to the forum!
There is a few things you need to remember, start with quality flour being first and don't over mix! You do need to build up the gluten so the cake has structure, however too much causes your cake to be tough.
Scientifically, baking powder and baking soda react to the other ingredients and helps with the lift and texture so you want to stick pretty close to what a recipe calls for. A cake that you've added lemon or orange juice to for flavor will fall in the middle because of the acid reacting with the leavening. Always better to add zest and liquor or flavoring.
To answer your original question, Devils food traditionally calls for cocoa (not dutched) vinegar (or buttermilk) and baking soda. The baking soda reacts to the acids and causes a red tinge (red velvet cake)
post #16 of 24
Thread Starter 

@liza Thank you! What would you consider a quality flour? I normally pick up store brand flour or use what we have at work. If i wanted to use another liquid as flavoring like liquor, how much would i use? just the amount of water it calls for or is there another way to determine that? I recently made a devils food cake from Fridbergs book, called for the following

 

1 lb 4 oz granulated sugar

4oz unsweetened cocoa powder

8oz bread flour

8oz cake flour

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

6 eggs

2c buttermilk

2c sour cream

12oz melted unsalted butter

8oz finely grated raw purple beets

 

I thought red velvet cake was simply chocolate cake with red food coloring.

post #17 of 24
I personally am a fan of King Arthur brand, but I'm in the northeast, they are consistent with the milling so I rarely have to worry.

yes, red velvet cakes have the beets added for color, however, cocoa reacting to acid will create a tinge (red/brown) which is why most of them call for minimal amounts of cocoa.
Devils food' gives you the same reaction but the ratio of more chocolate to acid it's not as noticeable
post #18 of 24
Thread Starter 

Ahh this Devils food cake called for beets as well and not so much cocoa so i see where it all relates. Im from Jersey ill have to keep my eye out for that brand. 

post #19 of 24

@Toffee ,

 Hi, I just wanted to mention something about Yves books. You are paying more because of the translations. I worked with Yves just before his first release. He was nice enough to send me all his first editions with little notes. I treat them as bibles and the French didn't bother me for my wife speaks French at home with her family. I didn't mention them because Yves was more of an artist. His photography was unequaled, at least for me back then.

   I think they might be a better purchase for you down the road. The education I received from him was more geared towards artistic work and show pieces. His show work has never been equaled. I mean the man was awarded The Best Craftsman in France of two categories. My adoration comes from his personality. Where ever it may be, He always made it seem like we were in his small town bakery. Just sayin

He did produce a wonderful magazine for a while where the issues might be affordable.

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post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 

@panini So far ive only seen one version of Yves books. Only one in english at least thats listed online. Im not entirley sure if the images i see online from searching him are his. but they look very good to me. I will definitely keep him in mind for a future book to get for sure. Seems like a good go to book for a reference to display pieces.

post #21 of 24

@Toffee,

  He has published recent books but they can look a little dated. I have quite a large library of books. I have a den where I keep my Stickley stuff. I have Yves 3 books on a library table kinda displayed like coffee table books. To be honest, they're not really recognized that much by younger Chefs. Confections have changed. Young Pastry Chefs make beautiful sugar pieces using newer ingredients like isomalt. You have to be a little older to appreciate Yves work at the time. I feel the challenges were more difficult back then. It took a Zen like approach to use those raw and sometimes unrefined ingredients like sugar, chocolate and create beautiful masterpieces.

  If you enjoy food history, I think you'll enjoy his first three. One is on Pastries, another is on Chocolate and one is on kinda Nouvelle Pastries.

BTW, there wasn't a good Chef out there that didn't look forward to receiving his next magazine. I think they really had an impact among Chefs.

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post #22 of 24
Thread Starter 

I will definitely look more then, i like knowing the old ways of things so to speak. Ive never attempted sugar art or chocolate art besides some basic garnishes i dabble with at home to see what i could use at work when i serve desserts. Still a beginner in kitchen work in general but always willing to learn different things and different ways. I will hopefully in a few paychecks get his books and go through them. Along with the other books suggested by you and @Fablesable

post #23 of 24

@Toffee , I'm sure you're aware, I just wanted to mention there are some good deals on used books at Amazon.

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post #24 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thank you! I usually go on Amazon or ebay for alot of things so ill take a peak and see what i can find.

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