Generally, the sensation of
moisture in cakes is achieved through the addition of
fat. This is not to say that you should add more fat to
a recipe to make it moister, but instead that you look
for recipes with higher amounts of fat. Certain types of
cakes, ones with higher fat ratios, are generally moist.
These include chiffon cakes, pound cakes, and oil cakes.
Also, the inclusion of some ingredients, such as
buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt, or cream cheese, may
indicate that a recipe produces a moist cake. Cakes
baked with fruit are also moist, as the fruit retains
moisture during and after baking. Lastly, be sure not to
over-bake, which will make any cake dry.
What is baking
powder and how is it different than baking soda?
Baking powder is a leavening containing a combination of
baking soda, an acid (such as cream of tartar) and a
moisture-absorber (such as cornstarch). When mixed with
liquid, baking powder releases bubbles that cause a
bread or cake to rise. The most common type of baking
powder is double acting, which releases some gas when it
becomes wet and the rest when exposed to oven heat.
Because it's perishable, baking powder should be kept in
a cool, dry place. Always check the date on the bottom
of a baking-powder can before purchasing it. To test if
a baking powder still packs a punch, combine 1 teaspoon
of it with 1/3 cup hot water. If it bubbles
enthusiastically, it's fine.
Baking soda is also known as bicarbonate of soda.
When combined with an acid ingredient such as
buttermilk, yogurt or molasses, baking soda produces
bubbles, thereby causing a dough or batter to rise.
Because it reacts immediately when moistened, it should
always be mixed with the other dry ingredients before
adding any liquid; the resulting batter should be placed
in the oven immediately.
Definitions of other cooking terms can be located in
the Oriental Foods And Recipes
What can I
substitute for self-rising flour?
To substitute for self-rising flour, use 1 cup
all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
plus 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Can I substitute
all-purpose flour for cake flour?
Cake flour is fine-textured, soft-wheat flour with high
starch content. It makes particularly tender cakes and
pastries. Because of these qualities, it is generally
not recommended that you substitute all-purpose flour
for the cake flour called for in a recipe. If cake flour
is called for, it means that all of the other recipe
ingredients and amounts have compensated for the finer
texture of this flour, and to substitute something else
would most likely not give the intended results. More
information about flour can be found in the article
All About Flour
What is shortening?
The term "shortening" on our site refers to vegetable
shortening, a solid fat made from vegetable oils, such
as soybean and cottonseed. Vegetable shortening is
virtually flavorless and may be substituted for other
fats in baking and cooking. Bakers sometimes prefer
shortening because it does create a slightly higher,
fluffier cake but there is no reason why you should not
be able to use butter instead.
Why do my cakes
A. There could be a number of reasons your butter cakes are
falling; a butter cake is one made with shortening or
butter. Among the more common reasons is the addition of
too much baking powder or soda, over beating the egg
whites, or removing the cake from the oven before it is
My cakes do not
rise evenly - they are tall in the middle, and slope
down to the sides. What am I doing wrong?
The most likely cause is that the oven is too hot. Check
your oven with an oven thermometer to insure that you
are baking at the correct temperature.
Can I freeze a
You can freeze a cheesecake successfully for later use.
First, allow the cheesecake to cool completely in the
refrigerator. Wrap it in plastic, as airtight as
possible to ward off freezer burn. Place the cheesecake
in a safe spot in the freezer where it won't be bumped
or otherwise contaminated. It's important that the
cheesecake remain frozen for the duration of storage,
and not be defrosted or thawed, then re-frozen. Thaw
your cheesecake in the refrigerator before serving. Bear
in mind that cheesecakes are made with dairy products
and eggs, and shouldn't be left at room temperature. It
will probably take about 12 hours to thaw. You can
expect some moisture to collect on top of the cake due
to condensation - this can be dabbed off with a paper
towel. If you are planning to decorate the cheesecake or
use a topping, it's best to do this after the cheesecake
What about freezing
a plain cake?
For best results, don't freeze the cake after decorating
with frosting. The cake expands faster than the
frosting, causing it to crack while thawing. You can
assemble the cake and apply a thin "crumb coat" of
frosting, then finish decorating after the cake is
thawed. Allow the frosting to firm up in the
refrigerator or freezer, then wrap tightly in plastic.
Place the cake in a safe spot in the freezer where it
won't be bumped or otherwise contaminated. Defrost the
cake gradually. Unwrap the cake and place in the
refrigerator for 8 hours. To avoid absorbing odors from
the refrigerator, place the cake in a cake carrier.
You can freeze undecorated cake layers for up to a
month before using. Be sure to wrap them as airtight as
possible, or they will dry out in the freezer.
I often find myself
adjusting recipes in order to make enough for my family,
but it doesn't quite work for some recipes. Do you have
any advice for me?
Changing recipes in order to
make more or less servings is called "recipe scaling."
Whenever you alter the amounts of ingredients for a
given recipe, you may also need to adjust the cooking
temperature, cooking time, pan size and seasonings. But
for food chemistry reasons, recipe scaling simply does
not work well for some dishes: delicate foods such as
soufflés, baked items requiring yeast such as breads,
and recipes for a single large item that is meant to be
later divided into smaller portions such as cakes, pies,
breads and whole turkey.
Recipe Scaling Page will give you a reliable
framework for successful recipe scaling: It offers detailed
guidelines for recipe scaling.