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Old 10-16-2004, 01:52 PM   #1
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A Cake Question

I made a devil's food cake today, which called for finely grated raw beet. I used my cheese grater, and grated it like I would parmesan cheese. This yielded alot of liquid, which I added along with the solids, as I assumed it was part of the recipe. This yielded a very liquidy batter, which seemed odd given that the recipe called for you to level the batter in the pan before baking. (You can't level a liquid) Anyway, the cake came out a little moister than I would have expected, and for unrelated reasons, I had to throw it out and start over. This time, I processed the beets in my mini-prep, which yielded a slightly coarser result, which seemed alot drier. Sure enough, the batter is somewhat thicker, and more what I would have expected from a cake batter. What I can't figure out is what happened to all the liquid in the beets? There was no liquid left over in the food processor, and I mixed all the ingredients thoroughly in my stand mixer, so what the heck happened to the extra moisture? The beat I used was from the same stem as the one I used earlier this morning, and there was no difference in storage or anything. I'm trying to understand this, so if anyone has an explanation, please enlighten me.

While I'm posting, I would also like to know if anyone has a foolproof way of seperating layers from a cake after you've sliced them, without mangling the layer while you remove it. The reason my first cake failed was that the layer was so delicate that it just broke into pieces when I tried to lift it off the others. Granted, I think the cake was inherently more fragile because of its increased moistness, but I still would appreciate any suggestions for seperating and moving the layers without destroying them in the process.

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Old 10-16-2004, 02:43 PM   #2
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My theory would be the heat of the food processor dehydrated some of the juices, and perhaps something to do with the centrifugal force of the processing changes the structure of the finished product. Just a completely unsubstantiated theory. I made a beet cake last week and baked the beets first, and can recommend that method. It did produce a very moist batter though.

Seperating layers is very difficult, especially if the cake is moist. Leave it for several hours, or overnight. Most cakes can withstand freezing, you could try freezing it for a couple of hours, that will give you some more stability.

You can purchase aids for the task, a cutter that you hold over the cake with guides touching your bench, and that gives you a straight cut. There are a couple of variations here:-
http://fantes.com/cake_cutters.htm

Personally if making a layer cake, I cheat and use small tins, I hate cutting cakes into layers!!!!!
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Old 10-16-2004, 03:26 PM   #3
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I cannot cook the beets, as the recipe calls for them raw. This is not a beet cake, but a devil's food cake that appears to use the beets for coloring. (they don't seem to change the flavor of the batter much)

I tried using one of those wire cutters, in anticipation of making this cake. (I am making a birthday cake for my friend next week, and today's cake is a trial run) However, I found I had very little control over it, it did not cut straight, it made a dirty cut, and overall it was harder than using a bread knife, which is what I have used in the past. Maybe my technique is wrong, but I'm switching back to the knife; this cutter sucks. Your suggestion to freeze the cake is actually very interesting! I might just put it in the freezer for an hour just to firm it up. Thanks!
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Old 10-16-2004, 04:08 PM   #4
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Jason, I think that most cakes that are used for cutting like you're wanting to do are maybe sponge cakes, or 'genoise'. Or a heavy cake like a pound cake. Our typical 'American' cakes are too tender to be cut in half. Sorry.
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Old 10-16-2004, 05:01 PM   #5
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That's impossible. The recipe is above reproach.
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Old 10-16-2004, 06:58 PM   #6
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jasonr, I use a couple of really big lifters to move the top layer when I do this. They are about 8 or 9 inches long and about 4 wide...two of those babies and I can lift any layer, moist or not. I just set it aside on some waxed paper and go to town on the filling.

Good luck and keep us posted, this cake sounds like a winner.
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Old 10-16-2004, 07:12 PM   #7
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I think I'm going to bite the bullet and buy a lifter, because moving it otherwise is very difficult. I think a big problem was that the center of the cake was underbaked, which is why the centre totally collapsed. When I make it next week, I am going to bake it alot longer, the recipe be damned. Anyway, the cake layers almost completely collapsed, and I had to piece them together and use only two instead of three layers. Very disappointing. Also, the frosting didn't go the way I wanted; I think I may play it safe next week and go for simple chocolate buttercream instead of the fancy stuff in my recipe.

UGGH. No matter how hard I try, I just can't make a truly good cake. The individual components usually come out fine, but assembling is always troublesome, and even when everything holds together, my decorations are always amateurish, even though I have bought all the right decorating equipment.
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Old 10-17-2004, 08:02 AM   #8
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LOL - well, Jason, if the recipe was above reproach - I guess there's nothing more to be said!

Re the decorating - do you have any cooking classes in your area you can attend? Or - here's a book site that has some fantastic pro and home pasty arts books including cake decorating - and good prices, too -

www.ebooks.com

(otherwise known as 'Jessica's Biscuit')
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Old 10-17-2004, 03:39 PM   #9
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I've been meaning to go do a course for months, but you know how it is; you always find excuses to sit on your ass. Sooner or later though, I'm going to have to do it.

As for the devil's food cake, FYI, the batter was totally tasteless; very disappointing. For the birthday cake, I'm going to go back to my old standby: flourless chocolate circles. These are very tasty, and each disc is made individually, so cutting and transporting is not an issue. I think I will fill it with a calvados diplomat pastry creme, and frost with good old fashioned chocolate buttercream. For the lettering of the happy birthday, I'll probably use a simple royal icing. I'll let you know how it works out. I'm looking forward to using my new plastic letter templates for the writing.
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Old 10-17-2004, 06:43 PM   #10
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Dont get disappointed, I am right now baking a birthday cake for my mom,whoose birthday is tomorrow.
I was going to write in 2 weeks ago, I baked 3 cakes in 3 days and 2 of them were disasters. For one i put to much batter in the cake pan, a whole reciepe in a 10" pan and the middle never got done. For the second one I only had enough flour for 1/2 a reciepe but I put eggs in for a whole reciepe so it came out to dense.
For thed 3rd cake I was trying to make a single batch and again i put to many eggs in but I was determined to make a good cake so I went on and made a double reciepe and gave 2 layers to my mom. It came out great. I made a chocalate cake for my wife friday, a half reciepe cake for myself and now one for my mom. My point is I have been making this same reciepe since I was 12 , if not before and now I am 38. And I still screw it up sometimes.
When I got my kitchen aid mixer I had to change the way I baked it a little and when I got my wilton cake pans I had to adjust.
Just keep trying and you'll get it.
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