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Old 09-20-2006, 05:41 PM   #11
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That was good advice from Ayrton. I'm sure her suggestions will give you better results. But that doesn't look like a terribly moist recipe, either.
My daughter is the cake baker in the family. She made Kim a chocolate cake for his birthday from a Hershey's recipe book, and I'm wondering if it might be the same one. Hers was very tender, and not a bit dry, but it was more of a classic chocolate cake than an extra moist type. She made homemade chocolate frosting for it though, and used plenty, just as he likes, so he was a happy camper.
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Old 09-20-2006, 09:04 PM   #12
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Also, just to be picky, fluff up the flour with a fork before you measure it out. Basically then, you're getting 2 cups of aerated flour rather than 2 solid cups of compacted flour - a little less flour just means a little less heavy.

I have never cooked with shortening, but i always use butter in my cakes, and probably a little more than that recipe listed. I'm not sure about the technical function of the boiling water, but i find whole milk makes for tasty and moist cakes.

Most importantly, congratulations on your first cake - and while practice makes perfect, i'm sure as long as you enjoy baking, and your son sees that you are making such an effort for him, no one will notice or care if the cakes start off a little dry.
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Old 09-21-2006, 05:19 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bridgett
... fluff up the flour with a fork before you measure it out ... /

... a little more than that recipe listed ...
Bridgett, aerating is the primary function of sifting flour. I suspect a sifter does a more thorough job than a fork, although there are forks and forks, and forkers and forkers, I'm sure!

As for the "little more" -- it's advice I'd hesitate to give a newbie. Making cakes, after all, is a formula thing like all baking, and messing about too much with a good formula is unwise, at least until you know very much what you're doing.

Fred (that you're a father baking a cake for his son fills me with endless admiration!) you've done well so far and I'm so happy to hear you're planning a next time! Since your son obviously likes chocolate, may I suggest your next attempt be a different recipe? I swear by a cake in my "Joy" which the authors as well feel is "the best chocolate cake ever." It's a slightly different procedure than the normal, a bit more time-consuming, but the results are truly superb. Let me know and I'd be happy to post (administrators: may I do so if I credit the source?)

Winter's coming. What a lovely hobby for the upcoming months!
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Old 09-21-2006, 08:09 AM   #14
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A couple of photos for you, Fred...

The chocolate cake is the one I'm suggesting you try next. In this photo it's all tarted up as a German Chocolate cake, one of our all-time favorites. Do you like coconut and pecans?

The other photo is a fairly recent disaster. Just thought you'd like to know that even experienced cake-bakers have lousy days!
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Old 09-21-2006, 06:53 PM   #15
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Haha, i'm sure a sifter does do a more thorough job than a fork. The purpose of aerating the flour with a fok before measuring it out is just to make the measure more accurate for a lighter cake - i.e. 1 cup of aerated ("fluffed up") flour, is obviously a little less and a little lighter than one cup of compacted flour.

Of course, once this has been done, you then proceed to sift the flour for the purpose of aerating it thoroughly, and actually incorporating air into the cake.
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Old 09-21-2006, 07:21 PM   #16
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I've only baked a few cakes in my time (and yes, my Mom taught me to do it from scratch). After figuring out that a good cornbread deserved a little sour cream in the mix, I tried it on a chocolate cake...adding a little. Shazaam.

The fact you did this for your son is awesome. I hope my girls and I (when they're big enough) can do the same.
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Old 09-21-2006, 10:52 PM   #17
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I can't begin to tell you all how much I appreciate the help and encouragement.
Ayrton, please do post the recipe.
Thanks so much everyone.
Fred
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Old 09-25-2006, 10:30 AM   #18
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Hi again, Fred --

Sorry it's taken me a couple of days to post this!

Below is the recipe I swear by for chocolate cake. It's from the 1975 edition of "Joy of Cooking" --

* * * *
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. / grease & flour two 9" round pans

Prepare the following custard:

Cook and stir in a double boiler, over -- not in -- boiling water:
  • 2 to 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 egg yolk
Remove from the heat when thickened. Have other ingredients at about 70 degrees. Sift before measuring:
  • 2 cups cake flour
Resift with:
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Beat until soft:
  • 1/2 cup butter
Add and cream until light:
  • 1 cup sifted sugar
Beat in, one at a time:
  • 2 egg yolks
Add the flour to the butter mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the following mixture:
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Stir the batter until smooth after each addition. Stir in the chocolate custard.

Whip until stiff, but not dry:
  • 2 egg whites
Fold them lightly into the cake batter. Bake in greased pans about 25 minutes.

* * * *

It's just that chocolate custard step that's a bit unusual, but I swear, this is one delicious cake!

Good luck, Fred. Let me know if you make it!
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Old 09-25-2006, 11:41 AM   #19
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Hi Ayrton,
Thanks for The recipe. I really think the custard step might provide the moisture and richness I was looking in the first cake, which by the way seemed to me to taste better and have a better texture a couple of days later.
Is that possible or just my wishful thinking?
I'm going to be busy with end of fiscal year / inventory stuff until after the first of the month, so it will be at least a week before I bake again.
I'm thinking of your German Chocolate treatment, or perhaps some kind of Chocolate/mint combination. Sean(my son) loves Andes Mints.
I'll let you know how it works.
Thanks, Fred
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Old 09-25-2006, 11:50 AM   #20
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[quote=Bridgett]Also, just to be picky, fluff up the flour with a fork before you measure it out. Basically then, you're getting 2 cups of aerated flour rather than 2 solid cups of compacted flour - a little less flour just means a little less heavy.


To further clarify the sifting/aerating flour issue. I cook using an electronic scale and can tell you that a cup of unsifted flour weighs in at 5 ounces. A cup of sifted flour is only 4 ounces. You can see that a full ounce of extra flour can make your end product heavier.
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