Using Lower Temp On Butter Cakes
Cake making is not difficult, but having an understanding of the role ingredients and technique play in the quality of your finished cake will help you to have consistent and excellent results every time.Butter cakes consist of taking the most basic of ingredients butter, sugar, eggs, flour, and a leavening agent (baking powder or baking soda) and transforming them into a baked good with a wonderful taste and texture.
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QUICK TIPS BAKING WITH BUTTER
1The oven temperature affects both the texture and look of the cake. How hot the oven temperature determines how long it takes for the batter to set. The longer it takes for the eggs, milk and flour to coagulate, the more time the air cells in the batter have to grow larger and produce volume in the cake. Too hot and the outer edges of the cake will set before the middle has a chance to fully bake. This is why it is important to have an accurate oven temperature. Having a free standing oven thermometer in your oven will give you a proper reading on temperature as some ovens are not calibrated properly.
2The oven should always be preheated about 15 minutes before placing the pans in the oven. If baking more than one layer at a time, arrange the cake pans so they are about 2 inches (5 cm) apart and 2 inches (5 cm) from the sides of the oven. This ensures adequate air circulation and promotes even baking. Do not open the oven door, especially during the first 15 minutes of baking, as the oven temperature drops about 25 degrees F every time the oven door is opened.
Butter cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the baked cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before releasing.
3There are formulas for butter cakes that professionals follow and deviations from these formulas of about 20% can be supported. This is why you have so many different recipes for one type of cake. Some alterations in using eggs can be made. Egg whites and yolks play different roles in cake making and changes in the balance of whites and yolks will affect the baked cake. For example, in layer cakes you can replace one whole egg with either 2 egg yolks or else 1 1/2 egg whites to change the texture. Using yolks will produce a more flavorful cake with a darker color, but a cake with less structure. Using whites will produce a softer cake because egg whites do not firm up as much as egg yolks when baked. Types of fats (butter, margarine, shortening), sugars (regular, superfine or brown) and flours (all-purpose or cake) used also affect the cake.
4If you have a recipe that is not working compare it to these formulas to see if there may be a problem with the proportions of the ingredients in the recipe. These formulas are from Shirley O. Corriher's CookWise. This is an excellent book that not only has great recipes but also explains the science of cooking and baking. For additional help check the Troubleshooting Butter Cakes page.
5Formula for regular butter cake:
- Weight of sugar is equal or less than weight of flour
- Weight of eggs is equal or greater than weight of fat
- Weight of liquids (egg and milk) is equal to weight of flour
Formula for high ratio butter cake:
- Weight of sugar is equal or greater than weight of flour
- Weight of eggs is greater than weight of fat
- Weight of liquid (egg and milk) is equal or greater than weight of sugar
Leavening: (This is a general guideline as the other ingredients used in a recipe also affect the amount of baking powder/baking soda used.)
1 - 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder for each cup of flour OR
1/4 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of flour
6Butter is an emulsion of water, fat, and dairy solids, so the trick to successfully using butter in baking is keeping the emulsion intact.
7Don’t defrost frozen butter in a microwave, as this will destroy the emulsion. Instead, cut it into chunks and leave it out until it’s cold but malleable.
You know that butter is the right temperature if the cube easily bends without cracking or breaking, and unwrapping it leaves a bit of residue on the wrapper.
When creaming butter in a mixer, it’s ideal to keep butter at around 65 degrees, or a consistency that’s spreadable.
If the mixing bowl begins to warm, stick it in the freezer for a few minutes to keep butter’s emulsion intact.
To get cookies to hold their shape and edge, chill or freeze the dough before baking.
For flakier pastries, pre-chill your utensils and use a cold marble surface for rolling.
Using your fingers to cut butter into flour can cause the butter to melt. Instead, use a food processor. If you don’t own one, use a box cheese grater to shred the butter, and then a pastry blender or two flatware knives to combine the butter and flour.
Butter contributes to the texture of baked goods through the aeration process.
When a recipe calls for creaming butter, let your mixer whip the butter for three minutes.
During the creaming process, keep your mixer at a relatively low speed; mixing at high speed increases the possibility that the butter will heat up and lose its emulsion.
If butter is too hard, it won’t aerate properly, so make sure it’s soft enough to be malleable.
The variety of butter you use sometimes – but not always – produces different results in baking.
Although American butters, European butters, and artisanal butters often have inherently different flavors, those distinctions usually fade away when butter is used as an ingredient in baking.
American butter must have a fat content of at least 80%, while French butter must contain a minimum of 82% fat. Some butters strive for 85% fat. The higher the fat content, the less water the butter contains, making pastries flakier.