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Making Cakes

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You may not know the differences between the two types of cakes; foam and butter, and the different techniques used to make them.  Cake making usually begins by trying a recipe that catches your interest and whether it is a sponge cake, butter cake, chiffon cake, or genoise doesn't matter at first, only how it tastes and looks matters.  But as you gain more experience, you start to develop definite taste preferences.  Frustration often results when a recipe doesn't work or meet your expectations.  This is when you need to learn about technique and cake types so you can become better at; choosing recipes that match your preferences, avoiding mistakes, and even changing a recipe to suit your own taste. 

There are two types of raised cakes:

1)  FOAM Cakes

2)  BUTTER or SHORTENED Cakes

FOAM cakes have a high proportion of eggs to flour.  They are leavened solely by the air beaten into whole eggs or egg whites.   They contain very little, if any, fat and have a spongy texture. 

  The three categories of foam cakes are:

i)    Those that contain no fat

       - Angel Food Cakes, Meringues, and Dacquoises.

ii)   Those where the only fat is from egg yolks

      - Sponge Cakes, some Biscuits, Roulades

iii)  Those that contain fat (butter, shortening) plus egg yolks.

      - Genoises and Chiffons

BUTTER or SHORTENED cakes contain fat (butter, margarine, shortening) and rely on a chemical leavener (baking powder, baking soda) for their rise.  They are flavorful, and have a good texture and volume.  The American-style butter cake evolved from the English pound cake recipe of 1 pound of flour, 1 pound of sugar, 1 pound of butter, and 1 pound of eggs.  The French called the pound cake "quatre-quarts" which translates to four-quarters, meaning 1/4 of the recipe is flour, 1/4 sugar, 1/4 butter and 1/4 eggs.  The first pound cakes had no artificial leavener and volume was obtained through the mixing (aeration) of the batter. 

Other examples of butter cakes are the white and yellow cake, coffee cakes, teacakes, and fruitcakes.   Some butter cakes are rich and flavorful enough to stand alone (fruitcakes, teacakes) or with a sifting of confectioners sugar or drizzled with a glaze.  Others, layer or sheet butter cakes, taste even better with a layer of  frosting, lemon curd, jam and preserves, nuts, or even ice cream. 

Most American-style butter cakes are prepared using one of three methods.  The most popular of the three is the creaming method.  This is the easiest and produces the lightest cake with the best volume.  The one bowl, quick, or blending method is the quickest and easiest cake to make and produces a melt-in-your-mouth texture but it is denser with less volume than a cake made with creaming method.  The combination method is similar to the creaming method but involves whipping the egg whites separately from the yolks and then adding them to the batter. 

FROSTINGS (ICINGS) FOR CAKES

TROUBLESHOOTING BUTTER CAKES

Cakes can also be classified by their ingredients:

Chocolate cakes and cheesecakes fall into this category.

Types of Chocolate used in making Chocolate Cakes

CHEESECAKES have a filling made from cream cheese, cottage cheese or ricotta cheese mixed with eggs, sugar, and other flavorings.   The crust can be made from graham cracker crumbs, wafer crumbs, gingersnaps, finely ground nuts, or pastry.  They are baked in a spring form pan or cheesecake pan and can have a layer of sour cream on top.  The texture varies from light and airy to heavy and rich (New York Style cheesecake). 

Cracks on the surface of a baked cheesecake is a common problem caused when too much moisture is lost as the cheesecake bakes.  This is from over baking which is easy to do as it is difficult to determine when a cheesecake is done.  This is because the center (a 2-3 inch (5-7 cm) circle) of the cheesecake will still be wobbly when done and there is a tendency to want to bake it a little longer.  However, even though the center does not look baked, once it cools it will firm up and be the correct consistency. 

Cheesecakes that have no starch in them need to be baked in a water bath at a low temperature.  This results in a wonderfully smooth and creamy cheesecake.  (Make sure you wrap the cheesecake pan in aluminum foil before placing in the water bath to prevent leakage.)  Some recipes that are not baked in a water bath benefit from placing a shallow pan of hot water on the bottom shelf of the oven to increase the oven's humidity.  Also, greasing the cheesecake pan will also help prevent the cheesecake from cracking.  As the cheesecake cools it will shrink and if the pan is greased the cheesecake will not stick to the sides, causing cracking.

 
 
     
 

 

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