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Thread: Calling all bakers! Need advice

  1. #16
    Elite Member Waterslide's Avatar
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    Everything's been covered here that I can think of, but even Alton Brown, nitpicker extraordinaire, said the best cake you can make in your kitchen comes out of box. The flour to leavening agents ratio is supposed to be perfect. That doesn't stop me from making cakes from scratch just because I like to. And when I worked at the one bakery, a lot of their cakes considered to be made from scratch came out of a pre-mixed flour concoction (basically cake mix that came in huge sacks instead of little boxes).

    I love baking more than I love eating sweets, but occasionally I want a little cake or something. I find baking relaxing, but it's also bad on my bad back, so I don't do it as much as I once did. But I also love cooking, which I do more, because for some reason humans can't survive on cake alone. But I once had this grand scheme to start a blog based on old recipes my grandmother cut out of really old magazines that she kept in this ancient bread box which I now have. But that never happened...maybe someday I'll dive back in there...
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    Elite Member Moongirl's Avatar
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    I use either of these in my pans when making a cake/bread:

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  3. #18
    Elite Member palta's Avatar
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    The experts agree, baking is like chemistry, instructions must be followed to the letter in order to have a successful cake.

    For basic cakes, I always use cake mix.
    If you like experimenting, you can try making carrot cake, chessecake, apple crumbles, tiramisu.
    Those are more interesting recipes and there is room to get creative.
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  4. #19
    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by louiswinthorpe111 View Post
    Just use a cake mix. They're 85 cents at Aldi.
    Quote Originally Posted by Waterslide View Post
    Everything's been covered here that I can think of, but even Alton Brown, nitpicker extraordinaire, said the best cake you can make in your kitchen comes out of box. The flour to leavening agents ratio is supposed to be perfect. That doesn't stop me from making cakes from scratch just because I like to. And when I worked at the one bakery, a lot of their cakes considered to be made from scratch came out of a pre-mixed flour concoction (basically cake mix that came in huge sacks instead of little boxes).

    I love baking more than I love eating sweets, but occasionally I want a little cake or something. I find baking relaxing, but it's also bad on my bad back, so I don't do it as much as I once did. But I also love cooking, which I do more, because for some reason humans can't survive on cake alone. But I once had this grand scheme to start a blog based on old recipes my grandmother cut out of really old magazines that she kept in this ancient bread box which I now have. But that never happened...maybe someday I'll dive back in there...
    Quote Originally Posted by palta View Post
    The experts agree, baking is like chemistry, instructions must be followed to the letter in order to have a successful cake.

    For basic cakes, I always use cake mix.
    If you like experimenting, you can try making carrot cake, chessecake, apple crumbles, tiramisu.
    Those are more interesting recipes and there is room to get creative.
    ok, i'll look into mixes. i guess i never even thought to do that because i just assumed anything pre-made is full of preservatives and unnecessary ingredients and because for me making stuff from scratch is kind of half the fun of cooking.
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  5. #20
    fgg
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    ^but they taste good! when i make cakes for events with the kids, i always get funfetti. i don't know why but it is moist (*shudder*) and delicious every time!
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  6. #21
    Elite Member dolem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waterslide View Post
    Everything's been covered here that I can think of, but even Alton Brown, nitpicker extraordinaire, said the best cake you can make in your kitchen comes out of box. The flour to leavening agents ratio is supposed to be perfect. That doesn't stop me from making cakes from scratch just because I like to. And when I worked at the one bakery, a lot of their cakes considered to be made from scratch came out of a pre-mixed flour concoction (basically cake mix that came in huge sacks instead of little boxes).

    I love baking more than I love eating sweets, but occasionally I want a little cake or something. I find baking relaxing, but it's also bad on my bad back, so I don't do it as much as I once did. But I also love cooking, which I do more, because for some reason humans can't survive on cake alone. But I once had this grand scheme to start a blog based on old recipes my grandmother cut out of really old magazines that she kept in this ancient bread box which I now have. But that never happened...maybe someday I'll dive back in there...

    I remember Alton saying that about box cake as well, especially Angel Food Cake which is a pain the the ass to make from scratch. $1 at my grocery store is well worth it.
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  7. #22
    czb
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    sput - how did the cake turn out?

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    Elite Member Shinola's Avatar
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    I never use cake mixes. I usually use basic cake recipes from Mark Bittman, and they always work very well.

    I want to have control over things like the quality of the flour. You can sift your flour or use cake flour if you want a finer texture.

    I also would have suggested parchment. Since you’re leaving the cake in the pan, remember it is continuing to bake after you remove it from the oven, and place it on a cooling rack so heat isn’t trapped underneath.
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  9. #24
    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by czb View Post
    sput - how did the cake turn out?
    For my third cake ever, i would say I didn’t do too badly. I forgot to change the racks in the oven so it was on the lower third again and The bottom was less golden and hard than the last one but still not perfect. But it was pretty delicious, moist and fluffy and not too sweet (I used a tiny bit less sugar for this one) and the plums on top were yummy. The recipe said to sprinkle some sugar on top of the plums but I didn’t do that and I think it turned out better because the plums were still a bit tart and it contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the cake.
    Now I just need another occasion to make a cake so I can keep practising.
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  10. #25
    Elite Member louiswinthorpe111's Avatar
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    I actually have a cookbook called the Cake Doctor. It's a cake mix cookbook where you can doctor the recipes into yummy cakes. But you first start with the mix.
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  11. #26
    Elite Member Waterslide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik View Post
    ok, i'll look into mixes. i guess i never even thought to do that because i just assumed anything pre-made is full of preservatives and unnecessary ingredients and because for me making stuff from scratch is kind of half the fun of cooking.
    Yeah, that's what I thought too re: preservatives, etc. I think YMMV on the healthiness of pre-made cake mix, but it's harder to screw them up and you'll get good results. Plus, I used to consider it "cheating"...but it depends on what I'm making now. Like for my birthday, my Mom made me a boxed cake with homemade coconut and sour cream frosting (which is the easiest frosting ever). She put some almond extract in the cake (I use that and/or vanilla) and the frosting and it turned out great. Other times she's made cakes that involve making homemade custard and everything else. It kind of depends on what the person's in the mood for.

    This is from a Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix.


    Also, I don't know if it's been mentioned already...with cakes, do not overbeat the cake batter and do not overcook them even by a minute. They will get tough that way. Learned that the hard way a few times.

    @louis, I always wanted that book. If you like orange-flavored cakes, my mom makes one that's called Harvey Wallbanger cake and it's really good and she makes that out of orange cake mix on the rare occasions she can find it.
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  12. #27
    Elite Member Chalet's Avatar
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    Want friends forever? Non-preggo's. 1970's Harvey Wallbanger cake. I find these kinds of cakes super easy because they bake evenly. I also believe in high end, real ingredients.

    Get yourself a fancy, pretty bundt pan. You must invest in real Galliano. There will be nothing left. This is the kind of cake where they say I'll just have one more little piece...


    https://www.thespruceeats.com/harvey-wallbanger-cake-1806253

    Also find Nigella Lawson's Guinness Cake.

    https://www.nigella.com/recipes/chocolate-guinness-cake



  13. #28
    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waterslide View Post

    This is from a Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix.

    whoa, that's a lot of stuff, and a lot of crap like corn syrup, palm oil and the flour is bleached. and why is there corn starch in there?
    off to google hippie cake mixes.
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  14. #29
    Elite Member Waterslide's Avatar
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    So I was reading a little bit about the flour bleaching thing and I guess that besides the fact most flour is bleached to look white and pretty, it also makes for softer cake dough and supposedly makes the cake more flavorful. I never knew any of that but, but maybe that's why cake mixes make "perfect" cakes.

    There's an article about it here, which is interesting and full of explanations about the chemistry behind bleached flour and it not being bad for you, blah blah blah. (I don't really care either way and I don't honestly know how drastically different the flours are.)

    https://www.seriouseats.com/2016/05/...ake-flour.html

    There is a lot of corn in that cake mix though. And the xanthan gum (I think people avoid that?) and the dyes...I would say the corn starch is in there as an emulsifier. I use cornstarch a lot when making Asian food, but I can't remember ever putting it in a homemade cake. (I've possibly used it in meringue though, but it's been so long since I've had the patience or time to make meringue...)

    Hippie cake mixes:

    https://www.swansonvitamins.com/euro...BoCf-sQAvD_BwE

    https://www.instacart.com/whole-food...ke-mix-18-2-oz

    And good old Bob's Red Mill:

    https://www.swansonvitamins.com/bobs...hoCkxgQAvD_BwE


    Most of these just list "wheat" or "organic wheat" in the ingredients list, so I'm not sure that equates to unbleached flour but I think it has to?

    I read a book a long time ago that had a part about how peasants in the middle ages actually had better diets than their wealthy counterparts because they were eating all the unpretty, unwhite whole flour and grains (and veggies) and getting their fiber whereas rich people were so backed up they had to eat the "peasant" bread to relieve themselves. So weird.




    ETA - Chalet, yep, that was the Harvey Wallbanger cake. I want to make one again but the orange cake mix is hard to find and Galliano is so expensive.
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  15. #30
    Elite Member Novice's Avatar
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    Water slide - the corn starch is just corn flour, it’s finer that wheat flour with a silky texture.
    These box mixes are complex beasts - they have to remain in powder form in the box but provide a consistent product when cooked.
    Some or the products listed will do the former (corn starch) while others (Xanthan Gum) do the second as it’s an emulsifier to hold/bind components.

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