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Old 12-12-2015, 12:18 AM   #1
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I've made two bad cakes now....

I tried to make this cake for my daughter's birthday. Twice, now. Both times I had a cake that would not rise and icing that was too dry and hard to spread.

I know nothing about baking a cake. I've always used the retail mixes. But she wanted this really bad.

If someone could take a look at the recipe, I'd be much obliged. It's a ways down the page, toward the end.

Perhaps I needed baking soda, instead of baking powder? Or there's a typo no one caught? I don't know how to operate a mixer?

I think the icing just needs a bit more cream with 8 cups of powdered sugar. Or just two cups less.

Please help!

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Old 12-12-2015, 06:01 AM   #2
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Are you opening the oven door to see if it is ready before time? If you open the oven door too soon (when the cake is still quite liquidy in the centre) this can make the cake sink.

Also re. the cream. Are you whipping it up stiff? It says to use heavy whipping cream but that does not mean for it to be whipped up first.
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Old 12-12-2015, 07:37 AM   #3
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I opened the oven enough to check if the cakes were rising, a few minutes before turning it off. They rose a little, but not like a store-bought mix.

Maybe I forgot the milk.

I did not whip the cream, because I didn't read that in the instructions. With the measurements listed, the frosting was too dry to spread or stick to the cake. I had to add more cream to get it working. Even then, it was a bear to spread. I don't have the experience to get it right just yet.
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Old 12-12-2015, 09:06 AM   #4
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A homemade from scratch cake is not going to have the same texture as or act like a store-bought mix ever. It's like comparing apples and oranges. But, with that said, first, check the expiration date on your baking powder and get new if its expired or even close. Also, with the cranberries in the cake, it's not going to rise as high as if they weren't there, that's just a fact of life with any kind of fruit or other dense things in cake batter. Also, she makes mention specifically of mixing just enough to combine and be smooth. So, since you don't usually make scratch cakes there's a good chance you over-mixed it. Make sure too that everything is room temp, even the eggs,sour cream and milk. It will mix better.

As far as frosting, again, room temp on the butter and cream. Cold cream will cause the butter and chocolate mixture to tighten up. Although 8-9 cups of powdered sugar does seem a lot to me for the rest of the amounts, it does say to add more cream if needed. Did you add more than the recipe called for? When I make icing from scratch, I sometimes have to add more liquid than the original recipe amount. Make sure too that you are not letting the ganache sit for any significant length of time past what is called for, as it will continue to thicken as it cools.

Alternatively, you could try this:
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/176581/...-wedding-cake/ use all vanilla instead of almond and vanilla
or this:
http://cakejournal.com/recipes/white...m-cake-recipe/

and just add in the cranberries. It might be easier for you.
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Old 12-12-2015, 09:07 AM   #5
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Woebegone, I think the method described might be the issue. Rather than trying to add the wet ingredients to the dry ones try this.

Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl. In a larger bowl: Cream the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs one at a time beating thoroughly after each to incorporate. Then alternate the flour and the sour cream and milk. Some flour first, then the sour cream, then the flour and the last of the sour cream. Then finish the cake as per the original instructions. Be careful not to overbake. Good luck. Post pictures when you're done!
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Old 12-12-2015, 11:07 AM   #6
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Buy a Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker white cake mix and a bag of whole frozen cranberries. If you put the cranberries in frozen, baking will thaw them out but they won't 'bleed' into the white cake.

Also buy a large can of white frosting and beat in a little bit of milk to improve the spreading consistency.
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Old 12-14-2015, 06:24 PM   #7
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I appreciate the responses. I can only hope the last one is a joke....

I bought new baking powder for this cake. When I say it didn't rise, it really didn't rise. It only appeared to rise when hot, but collapsed as soon as the heat was turned off. Cutting into the "cake," parts had the look and consistency of Play-Dough. It was nasty. I took one bite and threw the whole thing in the trash.

I mixed the cake batter in our heavy duty KitchenAid mixer. Should it have been done by hand?

I used a hand-mixer on the icing, but will not do that again; I think it's too heavy for a hand mixer. I used the KitchenAid mixer when I made buttercream icing a while back, and that turned out great.

Yes, I could soften the icing by adding more cream at the end. In fact, I had to—it wouldn't spread or stick to the cake, otherwise. I will allow the cream to warm up nest time. The icing does harden as it sits on the cake; I thought that was kinda weird.

I will try a third time this coming weekend:

You guys are telling me to leave the butter, sour cream, eggs, heavy cream, and milk out for a few hours, right?

I don't understand what over-mixing looks like or what it does to a cake, so there's surely a chance I did it. I remember mixing to get rid of pieces of butter in the batter. I could try mixing the cake batter by hand, if that will help. Separating the ingredients according to Alix, above, sounds really smart.

I will not forget anything this next time. Hopefully, I'll even have adult supervision (my wife).

I just can't let this cake beat me!
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Old 12-14-2015, 06:34 PM   #8
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If you've followed the recipe three times and the results are bad, it's time to look for a different recipe.
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Old 12-14-2015, 06:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
If you've followed the recipe three times and the results are bad, it's time to look for a different recipe.
This is the first time I've ever tried to make the whole cake from scratch. It's an art form requiring real experience. I should not have expected to simply read the instructions and succeed.

I found a description of cake mixing methods. Which one works best for this type of cake? It's a "butter cake," right?
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Old 12-14-2015, 06:59 PM   #10
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I have to agree with Andy. Check out some tried-and-true cakes, like the one on the back of the Hershey's cocoa can. Good luck!
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Old 12-14-2015, 07:06 PM   #11
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The recipe you linked to looks a little odd to me. it's basically a white cake with the berries added as far as I can tell.


The proportions are somewhat skewed imo. You might try reading other white cake recipes to compare... but this one looks like there are not enough eggs and too much liquid.

Take a look at this one as an example.. Vanilla Trifle Cake Recipe | King Arthur Flour
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Old 12-24-2015, 03:17 PM   #12
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Well, here we are, trying a third time.

I allowed the cold ingredients to warm for 2-3 hours.

Using a hand mixer on low speed, I creamed the butter with the sugar first.

I added the eggs slowly.

Mixing by hand with a wooden spoon, I alternated sour cream, milk and flour.

I added the cranberries.

The batter looks really thick, just like before. It doesn't flatten out when poured, the way store bought mixes do. Still, it feels a little lighter.

I put two pans in the oven, instead of three.

I may cook it longer than the recommended 40 minutes, because that might be for just one pan?

It would be nice if this worked for Christmas dinner.
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Old 12-24-2015, 03:29 PM   #13
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Old 12-24-2015, 04:52 PM   #14
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Which one?

It does not rise as expected. These are 8" pans, one and a half inches deep; the batter never rises above the tops of the pans. I'm not the first to notice that the cake ends up unusually dense; there's a host of comments on the site questioning the directions for the very same reason.

It is lighter this time than the last two times, but until I cut it open, I won't know if it is what I wanted. Do I bother creating the icing?

I wish an expert would look over the recipe. She swears it's great. I've seen similar recipes for the same cake, but the ingredient volumes always differ.

I did watch a video of someone preparing a nearly identical batter, but without the fruit. He added the egg yokes to the batter, and whipped the whites together with some sugar to make something similar to a meringue, which he then added back into the batter. His cakes were clearly dense, but still very "cake-like"—plenty of air.

The ones I've made have been largely devoid of air.
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Old 12-24-2015, 09:00 PM   #15
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Well, there was no Play-Dough in the cake this time!

While it wasn't the light & fluffy boxed bake I'm used to, it was entirely fine. And that was after leaving out a quarter cup of butter.

A chef friend suggested using cake flower, unsalted butter (with a separate 1/8 tsp of salt), and a bit more milk.

For the icing, I cut back to 6 cups of powdered sugar, as the previous batches were so hard and dry. But 6 cups proved a bit soft. Like Goldilocks, I'll keep going until it's just right.
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I've made two bad cakes now.... I tried to make [URL="http://www.lifeloveandsugar.com/2014/12/08/sparkling-cranberry-white-chocolate-cake/"]this cake[/URL] for my daughter's birthday. Twice, now. Both times I had a cake that would not rise and icing that was too dry and hard to spread. I know nothing about baking a cake. I've always used the retail mixes. But she wanted this really bad. If someone could take a look at the recipe, I'd be much obliged. It's a ways down the page, toward the end. Perhaps I needed baking soda, instead of baking powder? Or there's a typo no one caught? I don't know how to operate a mixer? I think the icing just needs a bit more cream with 8 cups of powdered sugar. Or just two cups less. Please help! 3 stars 1 reviews
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