Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tips for Cake Baking & White Chocolate and Sweet Potato Cake Recipe!!!

Tips for Cake Baking:

I’ve baked dozens of cakes, certainly hundreds of cupcakes, in my time- and while I’d like to be able to say that they were all mouthwatering successes, the truth is that I’ve had more than my fair share of failed cakes. The problem with cake baking, you see, is that it’s so very easy to screw up- all it takes is one forgotten ingredient, or one stir too many on your stand mixer, or forgetting to set the kitchen timer…

Today, I share with you my essential tips for cake baking. Hopefully, they bring you many deliciously successful cakes:

Take your measurements seriously. It’s all very well to dump in a little bit of this and that when cooking, but baking requires precision. After realizing that a one-cup measuring cup differed so much from another, I bit the bullet, bought a weighing scale, and use that to measure almost all my ingredients. I recommend the wonderfully affordable Escali Primo Digital Multifunctional Scale.

Use fresh ingredients. You wouldn’t use rancid butter or rotten eggs in your cooking or baking, and you want to make sure everything else is fresh as well. Check your flour for bugs, the expiration date of your baking powder and baking soda, and so on. Trust me, it matters.

Measure out everything first. It’s called mise en place - literally, “put in place” in French - and here’s its description from Wikipedia:

Recipes are reviewed, to check for necessary ingredients and equipment. Ingredients are measured out, washed, chopped and placed in individual bowls. Equipment such as spatulas and blenders are prepared for use, while ovens are preheated. Preparing the mise en place ahead of time allows the chef to cook without having to stop and assemble items, which is desirable in recipes with time constraints.

Don’t rely completely on the recipe. Why? Because cookbook and recipe writers and editors are only human- they make mistakes too. If something strikes you as very odd, like a missing ingredient or a method that doesn’t make sense, stop and think about it. Go online and search for user reviews on the recipe

Cream your butter and sugar well. By that, I mean at least three whole minutes. And I don’t recommend softening your butter, unless it’s pretty rock-hard. If it’s a couple of degrees below room temperature, it will cream beautifully right in your stand mixer.

Beat the eggs in one at a time. Add your eggs one at a time. I like to add an egg, run the mixer for twenty seconds, and so on. At this point, there’s no danger of overbeating your cake batter, so really get it well incorporated.

Fold in your dry ingredients gently and just barely. Here’s where you want to turn your mixer off- and once you add your dry ingredients (flour, etc.) you never want to go above the “stir” (or the lowest) speed. This right here is where you must not overbeat, or you’ll end up with a tough cake.

Use buttermilk. I almost always substitute buttermilk for milk in any cake recipe. It makes for a more tender, moister crumb. You can also add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to a cup of milk for “instant” buttermilk.

Line your cake tin. I buy huge rolls of baking parchment in bulk, and use it for everything- baking and cooking. I like to line the bottoms of my cake tins with parchment paper, adhering it to the pan with a light spray of baking spray (e.g. Crisco spray, Baker’s Joy or PAM). It makes it so much easier. Note: whatever you do, do NOT line your cake tin with plastic wrap. It will melt. Not pretty.

Start checking your cake a few minutes early. Most unsuccessful cakes have been overbaked. The best thing is to get to know your own oven, its hotspots and cold spots. And remember that your cake will continue cooking for a few minutes after you remove it from the oven, so you want there to be at least a few moist crumbs stuck to your cake tester.

White Chocolate & Sweet Potato Cake Recipe

Wow, does this cake look amazing & you will certainly knock off the socks of your guests with this cake recipe!
This cake recipe is truly one of a kind. I had never made this particular cake, but have tasted something very similar. The subtle taste of the sweet potatoes gets along marvelously with the delicate flavor or white chocolate. This cake recipe is a true keeper. Enjoy!

2 pounds sweet potatoes(about 3)
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
Unsalted butter, for pans
2 cups cake flour(not self-rising), plus more for pans
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons brandy
1 1/2 cups unsalted macadamia nuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
1 pound white chocolate
2 cups heavy cream

Heat oven to 400 F or 200 C. Coat potatoes with 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and place on baking sheet. Bake until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove skin, and mash flesh with a fork into coarse purée.

Lower oven temperature to 325°. Butter two 8-by-1 1/2-inch round cake pans, dust with flour, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup vegetable oil; beat on medium speed until well combined. Add the cooled sweet potatoes; mix until combined.

Sift together cake flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; mix into sweet potato mixture. Mix in vanilla and brandy until combined. Remove batter from mixer; fold in 1 cup macadamia nuts by hand.

Evenly distribute cake batter into prepared pans, and transfer to the oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let pans cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack; cool completely, about 1 1/4 hours.

Meanwhile, chop white chocolate into small pieces; set aside. Bring 1 cup cream to a boil; pour over chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Chill for 30 to 40 minutes.

When chocolate mixture has cooled, pour remaining cup cream into an electric mixer; whip on medium until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture until fully incorporated.

Cut each cake layer in half horizontally, creating four layers. Spread 2/3 cup chocolate frosting on one layer, then stack next layer on top, and frost. Repeat frosting-and-stacking process until each layer is frosted. Spread remaining frosting on sides and top of cake. Arrange remaining 1/2 cup macadamia nuts on top of cake, and serve with a smile!

Eat well & Laugh often!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for these tips... i am sure they will come in handy one day because I normally suck at baking... i reckon it's the cup measurement thing...should invest in some scales if I am going to get a bit serious...thanks again..