Flashcards in CONCEPT 46: CREAMING BUTTER HELPS CAKES RISE Deck (51):
Classic cake recipes begin with what?
Creaming butter with sugar. Later, eggs and flavoring are gradually incorporated, and then dry ingredients are added.
What is the goal of the steps in a classic cake recipe?
Ensure the ingredients are well combined and aerated.
What is the most important step if you want the cake to rise high and have a uniform texture?
What two things does creaming the butter and sugar accomplish?
First, it makes the butter malleable, allowing other ingredients to be easily blended. Second, the tiny sugar crystals act like extra beaters, helping to incorporate air into the butter as it's creamed.
What is beneficial about the sugar crystals incorporating more air into the butter?
Filled with the gas produced by the baking powder and baking soda, these tiny pockets of air expand when baked. This is what gives a cake its lift.
Why is butter the preferred fat for cake baking?
It is able to form "beta-prime" crystals of fat, which are tiny and needle like and necessary for trapping and holding the air bubbles whipped inside. Beyond that, butter also tastes good.
Can vegetable shortening be used like butter in cake baking? Explain.
Yes, it is likewise highly effective at trapping and holding air bubbles but does not impart the rich taste.
Why isn't oil often used in cakes that require leavening?
Oils cannot hold bubbles when whipped like a solid fat.
Why isn't lard used for leavened cake baking?
Lard forms much larger beta-scrystals than butter or shortening. These crystals are not effective at holding air, rendering lard unhelpful when trying to bake fine-textured cakes.
Why can't you cream cold butter and sugar?
It's too firm to admit any air and is does not form the right crystal structure.
Why can't you cream warm butter?
Once butter starts to melt (85ºF), it won't hold any air bubbles because all of its crystals have melted.
Ideal temperature for creaming butter.
60 to 65º Fahrenheit, somewhat softened but still cool; beating creates friction that will raise the temperature to 68ºF.
What is essential in cakes that don't have chemical leaveners such as pound or bundt cake?
TEST KITCHEN: MAKING CLASSIC POUND CAKE WITH 60º AND 70º BUTTER USING HAND-HELD AND STAND MIXERS.
Hand-held and stand mixers produced soft, slick batter that looked shiny and wet with room temp butter; the cakes looked flat and dense. Batter made with cool butter was light fluffy, and off-white in color; finished cakes were nicely domed. Tasters found that all the cakes had similar flavor.
Trick to softening butter fast.
Cut into cubes and wrap warm towel around the bowl; it will take 15 to 30 minutes.
First ingredients that should be prepped for a pound cake. Why?
Butter and eggs should be the first ingredients prepared so they have a chance to stand at room temperature and lose their chill.
What could you call a brioche with orange zest?
Brioche with orange essence.
How far back does pound cake date?
To the 18th century and originally called for a pound of each: flour, sugar, butter and eggs.
Good pound cake should have what type of texture?
A fine, even crumb and suede-like texture.
All the rise of a pound cake is provided by what?
Air incorporated into the butter and eggs; do it wrong and you'll end up with a door stop.
What happens when you add baking soda to pound cake?
The texture is too light; more like a yellow layer cake than pound cake.
Why is adding eggs in a pound cake tricky?
Even when butter is properly creamed, this doesn't mean success. Eggs that are too warm will deflate the batter while eggs that are too cold or added too quickly are difficult to incorporate and air is knocked out by the time you have a smooth batter; 60ºF is also the perfect temp for eggs.
Why doesn't adding one whole egg at a time work well with pound cake?
The delicate batter just couldn't absorb a whole egg at once yet retain its aeration.
Does beating eggs together and slowly dribbling into creamed butter and sugar work for pound cake? Explain.
Yes, and this process doesn't take 5 minutes. If added very gradually it can be completed in 60 to 90 seconds, as long as the mixture is beaten a few additional minutes once the last egg is added.
Why would you sift flour for a pound cake?
Makes it easier to incorporate.
What happens if your loaf pan is too small when baking pound cake?
The loaf will rise out of the pan.
What happens if your loaf pan is too large for pound cake?
Cake will bake up flat with a dry crumb because it has more room to spread.
Is there a standard size for loaf pans?
No, making it even more important (and trickier) than it seems.
"Standard" loaf pans can measure from what sizes?
As small as 8 by 4 inches or as large as 10 by 5 inches.
Two most common sizes of loaf pans.
8 1/2 by 4 1/2 and 9 by 5; even this small difference can affect rise and appearance of baked goods.
Can the timing of when you sift flour (either before or after measuring) make a noticeable difference in the finished cake? Explain.
In a word: yes. A cup of flour sifted before measuring will weight 20 to 25 percent less than a cup of flour sifted after measuring. A difference that can make a huge difference on the texture of finished baked goods.
When a recipe calls for "1 cup sifted flour" what are they asking for?
The flour to be sifted before measuring.
When a recipe calls for "1 cup flour, sifted" what are they asking for?
Flour should be sifted after measuring.
Weight of 1 cup AP flour, sifted and unsifted.
Sifted: 4 ounces
Unsifted: 5 ounces
Weight of 1 cup cake flour, sifted and unsifted.
Sifted: 3.25 ounces
Unsifted: 4 ounces
Weight of 1 cup bread flour, sifted and unsifted.
Sifted: 4.5 ounces
Unsifted: 5.5 ounces
Why is it so difficult to capture the assertive flavor of lemon in a Bundt cake?
The flavor of lemon is drastically muted when exposed to the heat from a hot oven, and its acidity can wreak havoc on the delicate nature of baked goods.
Many baking recipes are based on what?
Simple formulas, mnemonic tools used to pass down recipes through the generations.
What tool is used to remember Bundt cakes?
1-2-3-4 cake category: 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour, 4 eggs (plus 1 cup milk, a liquid component that sets both layer and Bundt cakes apart from pound cake). Test kitchen added two more tablespoons of butter and replaced milk with buttermilk for a lighter, more tender crumb and a nice, mild tang.
Lemon juice has a pH of what?
2.2 to 2.4, even lower than vinegar.
How does adding an acid, like lemon juice, influence a cakes height?
Acids interfere with the formation of gluten, the protein that's so vital to a cakes structure. The more acidic the batter, the less structure in the cake, making it literally fall-apart tender.
Can a small amount of acid be used to produce a slightly more delicate crumb?
Absolutely, 3 tablespoons was enough for the Bundt cake.
How can you add lemon flavor in a cake without juice?
Adding lemon zest creates the floral, perfumed lemon flavor that doesn't go so far as to remind us of furniture polish; three lemons was enough for the Bundt cake - don't forget to mince the zest and steep in lemon juice.
Why does baking spray work so well for coating baking pans?
The blended four-oil mixture makes it easy to achieve an even coating, and the more solid texture of baking sprays keeps grease from pooling in the crevices, which can dull the ridges of a Bundt cake or other baked good.
Replacement for baking spray.
1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon melted butter; this does a better job than softened butter.
Why does buttermilk work with a finishing glaze?
The combo of confectioners' sugar and lemon juice was too sour, adding zest made it too floral, butter muted the flavor, but buttermilk did the trick. Supplementing some of the sour juice with buttermilk smooths out the flavor without dulling the brightness.
When should you apply a glaze to a Bundt or pound cake?
Apply a first coat while the cake is still warm so it will melt into the cake and then dry into a thin, mottled shellac. Reserve other half of glaze for use once cake has cooled - if needed.
TEST KITCHEN: German chocolate and yellow cakes made with 4 methods: (1) following the standard dry/wet alternation technique, (2) mixing in the wet ingredients followed by the dry, (3) mixing in the dry ingredients followed by the wet, and (4) mixing in dry and wet ingredients simultaneously.
Worst cakes were made with the last two methods; plagued by dark spots, large hold and uneven crumb (coarse and fine) - signs that ingredients weren't properly incorporated. Mixing wet ingredients followed by dry yielded better cakes with fewer small holes and more tender, even textures. Method 1 made superior cakes. Fewer small holes and evenly fine, soft, tender texture.
Looking into their archives, test kitchen noticed almost all cake and cookie recipes that call for more than one egg do what?
Either add them one at a time or premix and add in a steady stream.
Does the speed at which you add eggs to a batter make a difference? Explain differences in cookies.
Yes, when when two eggs were added one at a time, it took 30 seconds to incorporate into the creamed butter and sugar; it took 2 minutes when they were added at the same time. Eggs added one at a time led to cookies that were thick and chewy; eggs added all at once produced cookies that spread - it also produced dense and slightly rubbery cakes.