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The Baking Topic

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I need some helpful hints.  My daughter loves baking and is doing really well except for cakes.  They are coming out dry.  We did buy one of those cake pan strips and even though it said it would fit a 9" round pan, it was a little too big.  But it did help keep it level.  It did not, however, keep it moist as promised. We even cut the cooking time by 5 minutes and still...dry.

Any ideas?

 

Are you using a recipe where you're folding in egg whites?  She may be over-whipping them, which can result in a dry cake.  Over mixing is, as mentioned, the other culprit if you aren't overbaking.   Third thing: is she turning the cakes out within the recommended five minutes?  Letting cakes cool too long in a the pan can give cakes a funky texture issue (tougher, which can be interpreted as dry).  

 

Fourth thing would be: check your oven temperature.  You can get an oven thermometer for eight bucks in most hardware stores or on Amazon.  Oven temperatures drift with frequent use and there are usually directions online about how to re-calibrate, but you need to know your starting temperature.  It's possible your oven is running too hot :-) 

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Are you using a recipe where you're folding in egg whites?

If I'm remembering correctly, then no, it doesn't call for folding.

 

I'll buy an oven thermometer and, as well as making sure she isn't over beating them, make sure that she's getting it out of the pan in time.

 

Thanks!

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You can also try to rescue dry cakes by brushing them with simple syrup. Sometimes mine turn out dry for no reason I can figure out, but a little simple syrup can make a big difference.

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I had a dozen egg whites taking up space in my freezer left over from assorted batches of homemade ice cream so last night I made my first angel food cake from scratch.  It was so easy except for the cleanup.  I'm going to have a fine mist of sugar on my kitchen floor and counters forever.

 

Maybe I should put some of my homemade ice cream on top of the homemade cake...mmmm....

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I haven't made that in so long (because I loathe egg yolks, and thus hate having a dozen sitting there when I'm done - I know I'll never use them, but it seems so very wrong to toss them), and now I'm craving it like crazy!  Especially with strawberries in season right now. 

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You need to start making your own ice cream-- so many recipes require yolks without whites!

 

And if you tell me you don't like ice cream, well, we just can't be friends anymore.

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My uncle used to make ice cream back in the day - before you could just dump it in a machine, and instead had to crank away forever - and it was divine.  Unlike with salty, crunchy treats, I have willpower when it comes to sweets and could thus make ice cream without worrying I'd down it all in one sitting.  I don't really want a machine I won't use very often taking up storage space, though, and I've heard the alternate ways of making ice cream take more time and effort than I'd want to put in and/or don't turn out as well.

 

Maybe I'll see if any of my friends have one, and say, "I'll bring homemade angel food cake and egg yolks, let's make ice cream."

Edited by Bastet

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Egg yolks = lemon curd.  Although I tend to use Barefoot Contessa's recipe, which uses whole eggs.

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I'm avoiding the work I brought home by baking.  Making muffins, I decided to warm up the peanut butter to make it easier to scoop out into the measuring cup. "I'll just put the jar into the microwave for a few seconds."   You know how peanut butter has a foil liner on the top of the jar?  And sometimes when you remove the foil, you leave a thin strip around the edge of the jar???  Ooops.

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I just baked reverse strawberry shortcakes - cream biscuits with strawberries mixed into the dough. Of course, there's no reason not to top them with more whipped cream. I used fresh berries from my garden, that only crop that's really working this year.  I guess I can market them as organic, since I do absolutely nothing to them, not even watering. 

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I saw a post earlier asking for a gluten free recipe so I am posting the one I use for sandwich bread.

 

Please do not be put off by following the recipe suggestions:

 

If your bread maker does not have a gluten free setting then use the basic rapid, the setting that has only one rising. Gluten free breads cannot be knocked down and then rise again like regular breads;

the gluten free flour mix is cool and once you make it for the first loaf you will have some left over.

Get your alternative flours at a local Asian market or from www.vitacost.com;

 

This recipe is most like the commericial brand in texture but a lot more flavorful.

 

http://www.skinnygfchef.com/2012/08/spectacular-gluten-free-bread-in-bread.html

Edited by ethalfrida
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The weather is not co-operating today, I was up early to wash the bedclothes and hang them on the line because the forecast was for a sunny day.  Then my plan was to go for a nice "Sunday Drive" to find some produce and an ice cream.  Instead, it looks like rain is imminent and I am ready to rush outside to bring in the sheets.  In the meantime, I have an avocado focaccia on its second rise. Avocado right in the dough, it's soft and squishy just how I like my focaccia dough.

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...and my favorite ice cream to make is...

lemon!

 

Lemon ice cream is among my favorites, ever since I had some lemon custard flavor of ice cream from a local dairy as a child.  It was always so hard to find that flavor until Blue Bell brought it out as one of their summer seasonal flavors.  I have an ice cream maker that's just sitting unused in storage.  I need to get it out and make my own. 

 

I tend to bake in 'cycles'.  I'll get on a muffin kick and bake muffins to take to work for several weeks in a row.  Then, I'll stop baking for a few weeks and start another cycle, this time with bar cookies.  Then with cobblers, and so on and so on.  I feel a muffin cycle coming on soon (I have blueberries, blackberries, cranberries and peaches in the freezer that need to be used).  Maybe later this week!

Edited by BooksRule
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The weather is not co-operating today, I was up early to wash the bedclothes and hang them on the line because the forecast was for a sunny day.  Then my plan was to go for a nice "Sunday Drive" to find some produce and an ice cream.  Instead, it looks like rain is imminent and I am ready to rush outside to bring in the sheets.  In the meantime, I have an avocado focaccia on its second rise. Avocado right in the dough, it's soft and squishy just how I like my focaccia dough.

Your entire post I awesome.  Clothesline,  drive, fresh fruit and vegs...

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Sheets back on the bed, focaccia out of the oven, and the sun has returned, so I'm on the road.    Looking for some fresh, warm tomatoes straight off the vine to make sandwiches with the focaccia.

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I hope this is the correct forum, if not, please let me know where this should go.

 

Asking a question for my daughter who has finally decided to learn to cook and bake.  She's thinking of making cupcakes for her office on Halloween, and wants to use only 'natural' food dyes in the frosting.  I just use the liquid stuff from the grocery store, and sometimes I buy the paste stuff from Wilton.  Does anyone know of natural food dyes, and how they compare to the other dyes?

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Haven't used it myself, but I often check out the Amazon reviews on products I am considering.  There's usually a good cross section of pro's and con's to take into consideration.

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There is a site I use that is all about natural food coloring. I will post it when I get to my desktop. I used it for mint jelly I wanted color.

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Anyone got experience with sugar-free/low sugar baking? I'm starting a little side hustle baking cookies, and a couple people have asked me about sugar-free cookies for diabetics. I'm thinking of using xylitol, after reading up on sugar substitutes.

Edited by Trini

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So I replaced the sugar with xylitol in a recipe (pecan sugar cookies) that I've made before, and since I read that it might dry out a recipe, I added a little water and 1 tablespoon of molasses for taste and color. The taste came out the same, but the texture was different. The cookies normally come out crisp and tender, the xylitol version came out soft (not crumbly). But that could have been partly from the water I added. They didn't look the same either - since the xylitol crystals don't act quite the same as sugar crystals. (I used a brand that was granulated similar to sugar, but I've also seen a finer, closer to powdered version.)

 

The xylitol is pretty tasteless, so I'd recommend making sure there are other ingredients for flavor. I'll have to see how the person I baked them for likes them.

 

----------

BTW, I made a different recipe this week that called for buttermilk -- which none of the stores around me carried. One book I have suggested substituting plain yogurt. I actually really liked the slightly tangy taste the yogurt gave the recipe, so I may just always use that from now on. Then again, I'd never drank or used buttermilk in cooking before anyway, so I don't really know the difference in how it would taste.

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I never buy buttermik. I always use the lemon juice/vinegar trick, or more commonly now, use kefir or plain yogurt.

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Ah, powdered! I think one of the stores near me carry that. And yeah, I read about the milk+lemon juice trick, but my household doesn't normally have milk around. I'll stick with the yogurt, though; we wouldn't use much buttermilk anyway, powdered or not.

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Well...new food I am considering:  Cinnamon Chips

 

I had some grocery store bakery cinnamon chip muffins this past weekend, and while the muffins were nice and got me thinking I should make some cinnamon streusel muffins myself, I did not quite get the point of a cinnamon chip.

 

Do they add anything flavorwise?

 

And, if so, should I bother with Hershey brand?  Looks like cinnamon would be lumped under "natural and artificial flavoring" and buried behind all sorts of sugar and oils of sorts.

 

Kind Arthur is the other brand I found easily, but not sure if any of the stores near me would carry it (although they do carry the flour now).

 

Any feedback would be appreciated!

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Can anyone recommend a good cookie press? I had a great one, an ancient electric Wearever Super Shooter, that in an instant of insanity I gave to my cousin. I hadn't used it in years, but ever since I got rid of it I have had a yen to make spritz cookies. I have read reviews on Amazon, but there doesn't seem to be a clear winner. Help?

Edited by Mittengirl

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If this helps, in October America's Test Kitchen recommended the Wilton Cookie Pro Ultra II.

 

That's the one I have! It's pretty good, and easy to use and clean. I don't know what stores are nearby you, but you can get it a little cheaper at Walmart, or with a discount coupon at Michaels.

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Well...new food I am considering:  Cinnamon Chips

I had some grocery store bakery cinnamon chip muffins this past weekend, and while the muffins were nice and got me thinking I should make some cinnamon streusel muffins myself, I did not quite get the point of a cinnamon chip.

Do they add anything flavorwise?

 

I saw those in the store the other day and wondered how I could use them in a recipe.  I have a Hershey's cookbook that I've had for ages that has a lot of recipes that call for raspberry-flavored chips.  However, I never could find them in any store.  There were some good-looking recipes in that book that used them, too. 

 

I want to bring a cake to our upcoming department holiday potluck (middle of December) and plan to look through my recipes-not-yet- tried stack to see what I could make.  I would like to try something either spicy, cinnamon-y, or rich chocolate.  If I can't decide (or don't want to attempt an untried recipe on my co-workers), then I'll probably just fall back on my tried-and-true sour cream pound cake.

Edited by BooksRule

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I also discovered how unpopular buttermilk was locally. Even the dairy had to special order it for me. However, since going organic for the most part,  I have also discovered kefir which is thick and sour. It keeps indefinitely. Sometimes, to control thevsour I add 1/4 tsp of baking soda to the recipe. There is also organic powdered buttermilk and agree that is convenient.  Any cultured dairy product isvgoing to add flavor.

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I use the Hershey cinnamon chips on a regular basis, mostly for the blondies I linked to further up on this page, and they really are worth it in terms of flavor. There's this gorgeous hit of cinnamon when you bite into one, combined with a texture not unlike white chocolate that adds a little variety.

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I'm doing my Christmas baking.  I make many, many batches of cookies, as well as a few batches of candy, starting in early November and freeze them.  I've realized the list is heavy on the chocolate (duh), and I want to throw in something with peanut butter, but not basic, boring pb cookies.  I'm debating Martha's vs Ina's peanut butter and jelly bars.  Any thoughts?

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I want to bring a cake to our upcoming department holiday potluck (middle of December) and plan to look through my recipes-not-yet- tried stack to see what I could make.  I would like to try something either spicy, cinnamon-y, or rich chocolate.  If I can't decide (or don't want to attempt an untried recipe on my co-workers), then I'll probably just fall back on my tried-and-true sour cream pound cake.

Chicken!  For some extremely perverse reason, I am compelled to try new recipes in a crowd.  I classify it as Experimental Cooking.

 

I use the Hershey cinnamon chips on a regular basis, mostly for the blondies I linked to further up on this page, and they really are worth it in terms of flavor. There's this gorgeous hit of cinnamon when you bite into one, combined with a texture not unlike white chocolate that adds a little variety.

Thanks!  Much appreciated!

 

Quof - My daughter and I just made some almond butter cookies this past weekend and that might be a nice alternative to PB ones. 

 

I used a combination of almond butters - about 2/3 from my local HEB where they have a machine that grinds it (100% almonds)  and 1/3 Trader Joe's chunky (no salt).  I ran a bit short on vanilla extract so made up the balance with almond extract so extra almondy this time (but nicely so).  We added some raisins to part of the batch and contemplated if we should add chocolate chips next time.  Although looking online there are all sorts of ideas to dress them up - toffee, plopping a Hershey's kiss on top, adding oatmeal...

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Chicken!  For some extremely perverse reason, I am compelled to try new recipes in a crowd.  I classify it as Experimental Cooking.

 

Well, the potluck will be held about 80 miles from my home base (at our main campus), so if I goof up, there will be only about 10 people who will have to be around me on a regular basis and I won't have to see any co-workers again until early January.  I might reconsider the whole 'guinea pig' situation!

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BooksRule, you could try a Texas chocolate cake (at work, so I can't link to the recipe).  I make it in a jelly roll pan, it's made with buttermilk and a bit of cinnamon, and your pour a gooey chocolate icing over it while still warm.  Casual, not meant for a fancy dinner party.  

 

ETA Nigella's dark gingerbread with lemon glaze would also be awesome.

Edited by Quof
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Well, the potluck will be held about 80 miles from my home base (at our main campus), so if I goof up, there will be only about 10 people who will have to be around me on a regular basis and I won't have to see any co-workers again until early January.  I might reconsider the whole 'guinea pig' situation!

If something I make does not turn out quite right, I just say Zack helped me and he sucks at cooking.  Zack is my niece's imaginary twin brother who lives in the garage of their old house (which I now live in).  She made him up when she was really young.  Zack is usually responsible when something goes awry.

 

Make up an Imaginary Coworker who can't go to the potluck and say you brought it on his behalf.

 

With the distance and limited daily co-workers, I absolutely could not resist Experimental Cooking for the potluck.

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Great ideas!  Anything with snickerdoodle in the name is always good and I've had Texas sheet cake before but have never made one.  I found a recipe for a Sugar and Spice Christmas Cake that I've been wanting to try.  It does use a cake mix as a base, but has enough other ingredients that it might be worth trying.

 

http://www.southernliving.com/food/holidays-occasions/white-christmas-desserts/sugar-spice-cake_2

 

 

Zack is usually responsible when something goes awry.

 

Come to think of it, I might have a long-lost cousin Zack that might show up soon!

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@Blixie I made that cake as my birthday cake this year! I didn't split the layers (so it was two rather than four) and halved the frosting, and it was still a little much. In the best possible way, though.

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It depends on the type of recipe. Things like cobblers can easilyntake a huge reduction in sugar. Items like cakes depend on sugar for its structure.  Breads can take less. So, can you post what you are baking?

Edited by ethalfrida
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