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Old 09-19-2006, 11:31 PM   #1
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First ever cake from scratch

My 14 year old son came home with a "Hershey's Best Loved Recipes" cookbook from the school library, and asked if I could make this cake for him.

It was called "Chocolatetown Special Cake". I said "I'll do my best, but you know cakes are not something I know how to do".

It turned out pretty well.but kind of dry. I'm hopeful that some one with some baking experience can tell me how I might have tweaked it a little to make it a little bit more moist and perhaps a little richer. The ingredients were:
1/2 Cup Cocoa
1/2 Cup boiling water
2/3 Cup shortening
1 & 3/4 Cup sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 Eggs
2 & 1/4 Cups AP Flour
1 & 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp.Salt
1 & 1/2 Cup Buttermilk
The buttercream frosting was pretty standard I think, and was quite good.
Any suggestions will be appreciated.
Thanks, Fred

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Old 09-20-2006, 12:07 AM   #2
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There will be a real baker come along eventually. But my very best professional opinion to make it more moist is BUY IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sorry, I just can't bake worth a lick!!!!

We have plenty of great bakers here and a few Pastry Chef's - hang in there and check back - you'll get an answer!
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Old 09-20-2006, 01:01 AM   #3
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In my opinion the cake should not have been dry unless it was over baked. Make sure your oven temp is accurate. Keep baking from scratch for a better product and it makes you feel more accomplished and successful. I am afraid that I am a snob when it comes to prepared foods and mixes.
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Old 09-20-2006, 01:52 AM   #4
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Swann is right to remind you that you probably need an oven thermometer to check the accuracy of the oven's temp. You can't make allowances for discrepancies if you don't know they're there. Then, when baking, it's important for me, anyway, to set a timer for the correct number of minutes. I'm really good at getting busy with something else and forgetting my cake, otherwise. Even a couple of minutes too long in the oven can make all the difference between perfect and dry.

As with anything else, tho... practice makes perfect. The more cakes you bake, the more feathery light your outcome will be each and every time. and pleeeeeease, don't use a mix! Scratch takes only a few minutes longer and tastes SO much better!
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Old 09-20-2006, 09:06 AM   #5
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Thanks Swann and ChefJune. I do have an oven thermometer. However I've had it for years. Might be time for a new one. I did time it, so that wasn't the problem.
I really appreciate the words of encouragement. I was really quite proud that it turned out as good as it did.
Thanks again.
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Old 09-20-2006, 09:23 AM   #6
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Timing doesn't replace knowing the signs of a done cake. Did you do the toothpick in the middle test and the spring-back-from-the-finger test? They're easy as can be. If you don't know them, shout.

Also, did you sift your flour and measure very carefully, or did you scoop it out from the package straight? That can make a surprising difference in texture.

Past that ... if you really want to pursue (you'll make your son very happy if you do!) move to cake flour right from the start. I've been baking cakes for years and only just tried it. I was really struck by the tender result!

Good luck. Forget the mixes. Real cakes are worth every penny and every minute.
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Old 09-20-2006, 09:46 AM   #7
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What a great bonding experience. Get your son in the kitchen with you.
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Old 09-20-2006, 02:55 PM   #8
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Chocolate cake is not one of my favorites but I am sure that someone will come along to help you out it.

Thank you.

Jill and Jolie
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Old 09-20-2006, 03:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shpj4
Chocolate cake is not one of my favorites but I am sure that someone will come along to help you out it.

Thank you.

Jill and Jolie
I thought they already did!
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Old 09-20-2006, 04:03 PM   #10
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The recipe said 35 to 40 minutes 350 degrees, I did the toothpick test at 30 minutes and took it out then. I didn't sift, although I did measure carefully. Next time I will sift and use cake flour. Great tip Ayrton, thanks.
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