Cake Decorating Community - Cakes We Bake

How do you deal with your cakes flopping?

On Friday evening I started off with a 3 layered chocolate cake i intended to give as a gift. I used oil instead of butter ( i thought the cake would be lighter)

The 20"bottom layer went in the oven and baked to a skew point! I looked at this morphing happening in my oven and thought "its fine I'll just cut the point away. Right? Not!"

 After awhile when I pushed in a skewer to check if it was baked through the cake went ppppppphhhhhhhtttttt!!

When I pulled the skewer out the cake went ppppphhhhtttt and fell in.

The skewer came out clean...which means it was baked through. Right?

I took the cake out of the oven- pressed the skewer in on the side that was furthest away from me...and the cake went...pphhhhhttt ....AGAIN....and when i pulled the skewer out....it went fffrfrfrfrfrff and just went FLAT right smack in the centre of the cake! I nearly went off my rocker!

I made another batch for the 20'' pan- but used a different recipe using butter.

Anyway, I thought- dont stress put the other two pans in the oven. These went OK -or so I thought!

When i took the cakes out of the pans there wasn't any sound effects - but each one had a hole from the bottom up!! aaaarrrgggggg.

 The top layer looked as if it imploded on itself....it looked like the michellin tyre mascot

I sat and looked at these three wannabe- cakes, and I couldn't get any creative juices flowing as to HOW to FIX it!

I got up and went to lay down next to my son. This was at 12:00 on Saturday afternoon (28 Jan'12). The party was at 6.

My daughter said "oh shame man mommy!" My husband said "so how you gonna fix it?". My brother came in and put his hands infront of his mouth...and said "Oh man". My son asked...."so can we eat it?" (bless his soul)

Anyway, the 2nd 20" cake i baked came out much better. I ended up making a single layer cake as a gift....not my initial plan - but hey....a girls gotta do...what a girls gotta do.

I am my own worst critic- i know- but i also know i want excellence- and there's nothing wrong with that. Right? 

My husband said i should stop baking if it affects me in such a way -and also because i'm so overly critical of my work.

But, I love baking. It makes me forget stuff, but even more ....I love decorating the cakes - it becomes my quite place. I can envision what i want the cake to look like...and it comes out looking exactely as how i saw it in my minds eye...more often than not. That I love 

 

How do you deal with your cakes flopping?

ps - I'll post some photos of those wannabees

 

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The weird "pphhtting" is all to do with aeration and how/why the cake rises.

When sugar  is beaten into butter,it makes air bubbles in the butter. As you cream the mixture, the holes increase in number and size until it is fully earated ie light and fluffy, and the sugar is fully dissolved - about 5-8 minutes. Once the remaining ingredients are added, and it is in the oven, the leaveners take over - releasing gas. Once baking, the water in the butter turns to steam, which in turn aids the rising action.  If the method uses the creaming technique, then the substitution of oil means a lack of aeration - thus a heavier cake because the lack of structure.

Once baking, the leaveners are releasing gas, but the structure is not there for it to occupy. It dissapates, it accumulates, it bubbles - seemingly from underneath .. Inverted on a rack, the base has the appearance of a "fallen cake" - only it's the base bubbled upwards.

Also: Butter is 80% fat and 20% water. If the butter amount is, for example, 4.75 cups, 38 ounces, or just over 1 kilo, then 800g is fat and 200g is water. To substitue liquid oil for butter, then you would used 800g [weighed not volume, as every oil is a different density] and you would have to add 200mls water to make up the shortfall. And, oil cannot create structure.

Unless the recipe was specifically written to use oil, then there is a lot of re-jigging that would be required to make a butter recipe work substituting oil. All things considered, even then, there would be no guarantee of success.

   

 

What an amazing science lesson - Thanks Suziq Tx
 
suziq auzzi said:

The weird "pphhtting" is all to do with aeration and how/why the cake rises.

When sugar  is beaten into butter,it makes air bubbles in the butter. As you cream the mixture, the holes increase in number and size until it is fully earated ie light and fluffy, and the sugar is fully dissolved - about 5-8 minutes. Once the remaining ingredients are added, and it is in the oven, the leaveners take over - releasing gas. Once baking, the water in the butter turns to steam, which in turn aids the rising action.  If the method uses the creaming technique, then the substitution of oil means a lack of aeration - thus a heavier cake because the lack of structure.

Once baking, the leaveners are releasing gas, but the structure is not there for it to occupy. It dissapates, it accumulates, it bubbles - seemingly from underneath .. Inverted on a rack, the base has the appearance of a "fallen cake" - only it's the base bubbled upwards.

Also: Butter is 80% fat and 20% water. If the butter amount is, for example, 4.75 cups, 38 ounces, or just over 1 kilo, then 800g is fat and 200g is water. To substitue liquid oil for butter, then you would used 800g [weighed not volume, as every oil is a different density] and you would have to add 200mls water to make up the shortfall. And, oil cannot create structure.

Unless the recipe was specifically written to use oil, then there is a lot of re-jigging that would be required to make a butter recipe work substituting oil. All things considered, even then, there would be no guarantee of success.

   

 

Yes, I was going to look this up in my Cake Bible book. She explains the "science" of cake baking. Unless you are a expert baker, and even then, when you are baking cakes & pastries, you really need to stick to the recipe.  If you are going to "substitute" you really have to know what your doing. As suzig stated above.

Doctoring a cake mix is one thing, but from scratch is another.  From scratch you should measure/weigh all your ingredients carefully.

hi ladies, thanks for your feedback.

The recipe I used called for oil -so i followed it to the letter (i'm new at this so "i do, and add" only that which the recipe calls for. lol....babysteps

Suziq your explanation of what happened inside the oven is spot on in terms of how the cake looked during and after it came out of the oven.... It was a lesson learnt- a costly one- but one i will not easily forget.

Hey

I have been baking since I was 13...I have had more than my share of failures!!!!!  We all have. One thing though for my generation, I'm 60, most of us had Home Economics in elementary school.  You learned the basics, what to do, what not to do in baking, I learned to sew,  and so many other things. When I had my children, those programs in school went the way of the Dinosaurs!!!  Too bad, cause there is a whole generation that don't know how to be practical as far as cooking & baking and the shopping for it. You really can save $$$$ when you know some of the basics.

Hi June, when I read your response I thought...."oooooh burn!"

I can only imagine how tiresome it must be for you when questions are asked about baking- "what to do....what not to do in baking"- especially when the questions posed are so elementary.

 

As you said:"there is a whole generation that dont know how to be practical as far as cooking & baking and  the shopping for it is concerned...a whole generation that can save $$$ when they know some of the basics."

 

But I dont think one should generalize- as I've seen some remarkable bakers from this generation that can cook, bake, shop, clean, sew, build...

However I for one, dont know all the basics. Therefore my questions, i guess, are really elementary-(what with my baking since Oct 2011- a whole 4 months-and with master bakers as yourself going on 47 years.

 

I am not practical as far as 'baking and the shopping for it" is concerned- not yet that is. At times I end up buying bigger quantities of the actual ingredients I need, out of fear of "what if!?"

Am I the only one that does that. Maybe I am- but for now I'm OK with that- I take it in my stride.

 

I salute  all the great bakers as yourself that call on elementary physics to study matter whilst they're preparing their baking tins.

I'm still calling on my brother for help- even if it means he must just sit- to keep me company.

 

To all the forum members whom I've bombarded with "how do i do"...or "how did you do that?" types of questions- my apologies if I've frustrated you.

 

There is a Chinese proverb that says "He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever"

So, I can either pretend I know everything- or open myself up...and just ask

OMG Natasha

Don't ever apologize for asking questions. That's how we all learn. I did the same thing. I can tell you as a young bride, reading a recipe, and thinking...Huh????  what does that mean??? Then asking my Mom, only to have her titter.  And ya...why pretend you know???  That drives me nuts, cause you cannot know everything about everything. I was, still am, a slow learner. That was very hurful in school, so I began to think I was "stupid". God bless my Dad, but his favorite phrase was....."What a stupid question", or "Don't be stupid".  Poor Dad, it took me years to realize that he felt inferior & that he felt he had show he knew everything.

So I purposed to never do that to my children, husband, friends, family...you know.

Although, I must admit, I have teased my daughter now & then. She CAN'T....cook. Her hubby is a great cook. But she, and is becoming a good baker. But I see hope on the horizon. My daughter just moved 6 hrs. away, hubby in a job, his own boss, working 10 hr days. So he doesn't have the time to spend cooking like he use to.  She is currently unemployed cause she lost her job when they moved.  Lo & behold....she has discovered, GASP, cooking!!!!!  She is scouring the internet for healthy recipes all the time. So pleased. My showing how to cook, when she was obviously bored to tears, wasn't wasted!!

 The food network shows on tv help immensely too. They explain & SHOW what to do. So this helps this generation become good cooks.

We all have to start somewhere, and I belive in helping where I can & giving a leg up.

:0)

I am only 26 and had home ecs and learned baking in school-though i was baking even younger than that! i love it. i am completely self-taught in the cake business though and have only been working with my marshmallow fondant for about 2 years.So with all this, i have definitly had my epic fails.(check out my Buck head cake pic on here, first attempt at something this big, this shape, with any kind of real structure-yikes!)it sucks but you walk away knowing you learned something...then try to suppress it until someone brings it up! haha.

 

But more seriously, if you were using say a box recipe-as i do often for time-then it is possible that you either did not beat it enough in the mixer or too much. if you do not get the proper amount of air worked into a cake, even one pre-laid out on a box-then you will wind up with a disaster.when they state 30 seconds to blend then 2 minutes on medium, then they eman it trust me! haha.as far as substituting, we luckily have the technology with the INternet that allows us to pull resources from others.if you ever want to sub something simply google it and you will find a tested recipe using that! i love that. plus experimenting is funas well.just not on a cake you plan to give out. ;)

 

also, do you use bake even strips? or a metal flower nail in the batter to help keep your cake level while baking? if not, especially for one that size, i would recommend doing so.they really do help.the strips are kind of expensive, but if you simply put one of those flower nails(coat just like the pan) in the middle of the pan then pour batter as usualy-which leave the pointy part of nail sticking out-this allows air to circulate better and decreases the chance of getting that mound in the cake you have to later cut off. can save a lot of time. good luck!

Yes Tiffany I also use the rose nails. The bigger the pan, the more I use. I also take a clean tea towel, and when my cake is fresh out of the oven, wearing oven gloves, I lay the t towel over the cake and gently push down.

This "spreads" out the cake into the pan & "flattens" it. You know since I joined this site, I have answered the same types of baking questions & "how much should I charge" questions it seems a billion times.

We should really have one spot/forum/area for strictly cake baking issues and money related issues for Caking.

Hi Natasha, your right if you never ask you will never know ! You asked about putting lights in a cake, i have given tips to 2 ladies in Scotland , a lady in India and yourself and will always offer my advice , a couple of the teachers at the college where i work asked about making roses and i gave them an hour of my time and now there is no stopping them !! Still waiting to see your Mr Bean mini !!!

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