Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Culinary IQ: Tuesday, November 1, 2011; Cake Methods I

Creaming and Two-Stage Methods

The creaming method, also called the conventional method, is the standard mixing method for the home cook making high-fat cakes. High ratio shortenings available to commercial bakers have resulted in simpler methods for making high-fat cakes commercially.
Butter is the most common fat used in the creaming method. Butter cakes are highly prized for their flavor and shortening adds no flavor. Butter also influences texture because it melts in the mouth while shortening does not.
Shortening can be used in the creaming method. It is less expensive and easier to mix. Use regular shortening because it has better creaming abilities.
If a recipe calls for butter and you want to use shortening you need to make adjustments as butter is only about 80% fat and the remainder is water. I can discuss the formula for making the substitution later if you would like me to.
Examples of cakes that use the creaming method are Yellow Butter Cake, Chocolate Butter Cake and Pound cakes.

The two-stage method was developed for cakes that use high-ratio plastic shortenings. High-ratio cakes contain a large percentage of sugar, usually more sugar than flour. They are also made with more liquid than the creaming method, and the batters pour more freely. The mixing method is a little simpler than the creaming method, and produces a smooth batter that bakes up into a fine-grained, moist cake. It gets its name because liquids are added in two stages.
The first step in making high-ratio cakes is blending he flour and other dry ingredients with shortening. When this mixture is smooth, the liquids (including the eggs) are added in stages. Throughout this procedure, it is important to follow two rules:

  • Mix at low speed and observe correct mixing times. This is important to develop proper structure.
  • Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently during mixing. This is important to develop a smooth, well-mixed batter.
Devil's Food and White cakes are examples of two-stage method cakes.

Adapted from Professional Baking by Wayne Gisslen. John Wiley & Sons, Publishers

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