Monday, August 31, 2009

White-White Cake Practice

Yesterday my goal was to make white cake that is actually white, not brown. There was both success & disaster. I thought to myself, “this is why we practice”. I started at 9am and wasn’t done until 9pm. I liked the end result, but it seemed like a lot of work for a little cake and some cupcakes.

Box Mix
You can call me a cheater, but I use box mixes for practice cakes. Of course, I have a few special tricks to make my cakes “better than a box mix”.

I started out with white box mix. It browned more than I would have liked. I waited ten minutes and then loosened the edges and flipped onto a board. I grease and flour my pans, line with parchment for anything over 9”. I’ve never had a problem with a cake falling apart besides my very first cakes without eggs (I have vegan substitutes now).

My first 8” cake came out of the pan just fine. Before I could flip the cake onto a rack to cool it broke into pieces. I hadn’t even touched it, it was just too light and couldn’t hold it together. It sure tasted good though! Normally, I would make cake balls out of any extra cake but I also only had barely enough powdered sugar to make the frosting I needed for the cake, so I decided to wait and see.

So, saddened that I wouldn’t have enough mix for another 8” layer, I resigned myself to making more batter to replace it. I baked the other two 6” cakes and the second 8” cake, they all came out beautifully, only very lightly browned. I have no idea why that first one fell apart because all the batter was from the same batch. Maybe it had to do with the wait time between the cakes?

White Cake Batter Disaster
I found a white cake recipe online from what I considered a trusted source. This recipe promised to make white-white cakes so I wanted to try it. What a disaster! I followed the directions exactly, weighing all the ingredients, and the batter was very runny. I figured it might be part of the secret so I would give it a shot.

What a disaster!

The “cake” boiled out of the pan and all over the bottom of my oven. I tossed the “cake” and the rest of the batter. While the oven cooled off I did all the dishes and counters in preparation for the next batch. Mind you, this is all for one 8” layer so I can finish my practice cake.

The oven got cleaned as best I could and I made a batch of my standard white cake batter. Good thing I bought lots of eggs because I had to use double the amount to use all egg whites for a whiter cake. I made the 8” layer I needed and used the rest of the batter for 12 cupcakes. I will admit that the homemade recipe version was a little yellower than the box (I have no idea how, I used all-white ingredients for both).


Because I had over-ripe bananas I needed to use I also whipped up a batch of banana cupcakes. While the cakes were baking I had made the Snow-White Buttercream Icing (recipe from Wilton). I followed the directions and added the recommended amounts of water and corn syrup to get the right consistency. However, I will use less corn syrup next time. Corn syrup is great to make the icing stretchy for drop strings or leaves but that same stretch can cause the icing to droop down the cake if it’s not kept cool enough.

I also tried another tip from a cooking website about crumb coating. I had always crumb-coated my cakes with cake glaze but that is messy and time consuming plus I didn’t have enough powdered sugar. It recommended thinning ½ cup of icing with milk until it is very thin and spreading over cake then cooling it. This did not work well, the icing was too thin and drooped down the cake and then when I went to apply the regular strength icing it just slid around the top. So I scraped off the failed crumb-coat and then regular strength icing as a base for the fondant.

I rolled out the fondant I made the night before, which went much better than I expected considering what kind of day I was having and all the fuss made about how difficult fondant is to work with. I think I made it a little too thick and that could have helped hold it together better.

I piped a bead border, a little more difficult because of the stretchy icing. Attached the heart candies with icing and frosted the cupcakes, also adding a heart candy. Amazingly I had enough icing for the banana cupcakes and I flavored it with lemon and some lemon yellow icing color.

Throughout the day I had been melting candy and making red and pink vanilla candy hearts. I wanted to color frosting for the border in pink to match the pink candies. Using just pink Wilton icing color it was too day-glow pink. I took half out and added more white icing. I was stuck for a while trying to figure out what to do when I thought of adding some red too darken it up a bit. That didn’t do much more than take the edge off. Then I decided to try to tone it down with some copper (light skin-tone) color. Voila! Matching pink icing that doesn’t glow in the dark.

It was a productive and tiring day. I learned a lot from this practice cake and am glad I allowed myself plenty of extra time. Lessons learned: have lots of extra ingredients in case disaster strikes, don’t use so much corn syrup in icing, don’t crumb-coat with thinned icing, roll fondant a bit thinner and I want to test the theory that letting the batter sit helps keep it from browning.

I have to get ready for the day and then drop these goodies off for others to enjoy. Thank you for visiting.

Make it a sweet day!


1 comment:

A Joyful Chaos said...

Enjoyed your informative blog. Thanks for sharing your experiences.