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Flour Based Products

Cakes

Cakes are distinguished from breads in that they are usually sweet, with many other ingredients besides flour. Flour, fat, raising agents, eggs, sugar and fruit are the most common ingredients but other ingredients are limited only by the ingenuity of the baker.

Also known as the ‘Flour batter’ method it is often used for making old-fashioned pound cake. Flour is creamed with shortening to form a soft and light, fluffy mass. At the same time in a second bowl, the eggs and sugar are whipped at medium speed to form a semi-firm foam. The egg whipping is not as thorough as that needed for sponge cake.

The two mixtures are then gently combined by folding the whipped eggs and sugar into the creamed flour and shortening. The maximum aeration is the basic means of leavening; little, if any, other leavening is used. This method is also used in cheese cakes and marble (wonder) cakes.

A lot of care must be taken with folding in ingredients. Over mixing results in the formation of large holes in the cake and uneven grain, as well as a loss in volume.

If adding egg whites, whip them only to ‘wet peak’ (shiny) not ‘dry peak’ as they are more easily folded in and do not break apart which makes them difficult to fold in. The excessive mixing then required leads to loss of volume and possible toughness in the mix and resulting product.

Pound cake recipe
500g each of flour, eggs, butter and sugar.
Cream butter and sugar.
Add eggs and flour slowly, beating continuously.
You can add 500g of fruit and/or a pinch of baking powder and/or peel or essence

Also known as the ‘sugar-shortening’ method, the sugar and shortening fat are blended together first and then creamed by added mixing.

During creaming, small air cells are formed and then incorporated into the mix. This mix becomes larger in volume and softer in consistency. The exact time for proper creaming is controlled by several factors: the temperature of the shortening or fat (21°C is best). Cold shortening (e.g. butter, margarine etc) is not plastic enough to incorporate quickly and hold air cells. By the same token, fats that are too warm (24°C or more) will not be able to hold as much air, nor give as much volume because they are soft and cannot tolerate the friction of the machine and constant mixing.

Sugar and shortening are creamed at a medium speed until soft and light. High speed mixing tends to destroy or reduce the number of air cells that are formed and incorporated during the early stages of mixing.

During the second stage, eggs are added in several portions. Very often, an inexperienced baker will add the eggs too quickly before they are absorbed in the mix and curdling will result. Egg contains albumin, or egg white, and the yolk. The yolk of the egg contains a fat that coats the surface of the cells formed in creaming and allows the cells to expand and hold the liquid added (egg whites, milk etc) without curdling.

Curdling is the result of having more liquid than the fat-coated cells have a capacity to retain.

A creamed mix that has been carefully mixed and does not curdle has a water-in-fat solution. Cake mixes that curdle are those in which the water or liquid has been released by the cells and created a fat-in-water emulsion.

Adding eggs too quickly or adding all the other liquid (milk) at once will cause curdling. Addition of a small portion of the flour at the start of the mix will help to eliminate curdling in mixes with high liquid content. Adding flour alternately with the liquid after the mix is creamed will also eliminate the curdling tendency. The batter is then mixed slowly until smooth and the flour completely mixed in and wet.

Try this method out in our Recipe section

Cakes made by this method are distinctly different from sponges and cakes made by the sugar batter method. They depend on the use of hi-ratio chlorinated flour and an emulsifier or stabiliser. This method has largely replaced other cake methods for commercial production because of its convenience. In this method dry ingredients are sieved, placed in the bowl with the other ingredients and blended slowly for two minutes. The mixture is then beaten at medium speed for about four minutes and finally on slow speed for a further two minutes. The finished batter should be thick and smooth but still pourable.

The major advantage of this method is that is does not depend on long beating to aerate the batter.

A high quality cake is produced with consistent volume, fine, moist, even crumb texture, tender eating quality and excellent keeping qualities.

One notable modification of this method is to dissolve the sugar first in some of the liquid before mixing in the other ingredients. This has been reported to improve aeration, so that the baking powder quantity can be reduced by 25%, or the liquid increased by 15%.

A typical hi-ratio cake formula would be:

INGREDIENT % of flour grams per cake
Eggs 65 130
Water 60 120
Sugar 120 240
High ratio flour 100 200
Baking powder 4.5 9
Milk powder 6.5 13
Cake Shortening 50 100
Emulsifier 6.5 13
Flavouring to taste to taste

 

Sponge CakeAlso known as the’whipping’ method and is usually used for sponges, egg whites for meringue, pavlova cakes, and for chiffon products.

When making sponge cakes, most of the sugar is added to the eggs before beginning whipping. During egg whipping, air cells are formed and incorporated into the mix. In pure sponges these cells affect the entire leavening or raising process because no baking powder is used. Eggs and sugar should be warmed to 38°C before whipping to soften the egg yolk and allow quicker whipping and greater volume. Egg yolk contains lecithin which surrounds the bubbles in the foam.

This allows a greater number of cells to form and the cells contain a larger amount of air. It has been found that an addition of 20% egg yolks to the whole eggs will improve the foam formation during whipping. For some types of sponge cakes it is advisable to whip the yolks and part of the sugar first, then the egg whites and remaining sugar are whipped and the two whipped products combined. This has the advantage of producing maximum aeration of the foam formed in the whipping of the eggs.

For whipped sponge cakes, flour should be sifted and folded in gently in stages to ensure that aeration is maintained. Loss of aeration results in a smaller product with a coarse texture.

For pavlova, best results from whipping occur when the egg whites are 15°C. Egg whites should be whipped slightly to a foam and the sugar added in a steady stream. It is best to whip at high speed until the eggs are almost completely whipped and then slow it down for maximum aeration, and production of finer, more even air bubbles.

Aeration is only successful if the air remains in the batter until it is baked. For large mixes this is aided by modern stabilisers and emulsifiers (or fats) which are added during the whipping stage. These help produce a stiff foam with small bubbles.