Official Baking Questions Thread

Scrubs - yelling Cox
Posted on 02/01/2010 by bluemotion
The LJ Abuse Team is unable to resurrect our kid sister kitchenfaq, so until we get a replacement community up and running, this is the place to post your questions. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Post your question in a comment to this entry with a subject describing your question.
2. Patiently wait for other members to reply to your post with their advice.
3. Follow their advice and proceed to epic win in the kitchen!

Again, this is only temporary. We are not going to open this community to questions. We already have a lot of content to keep organized with just the recipes. It will probably take a week to get a new community set up, though, so please bear with us, and we appreciate any help you can offer our fellow members with their questions. Check back often to see if someone new needs help, or if you want to be super scrummy, track this thread. If not, there's a link back here on the community userinfo page. Thanks everyone.
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the_mae_nymph 1st-Feb-2010 03:45 pm (UTC)
Whenever I make things from scratch they always seem to get really hard in the oven. I prefer my cookies/cakes softer and fluffier. What is the best way to make things softer without just using a new recipe?
bluemotion 1st-Feb-2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
Have you put a thermometer in your oven to make sure it's running at the right temperature? Some ovens can be off by as much as 50°F.
navigated 1st-Feb-2010 05:24 pm (UTC)
I just moved into a new place with a very primitive gas stove and consequent gas oven. The oven is heated by flames at the bottom of it, and the dial to regulate it doesn't have any markings, you can just make the flame smaller or bigger.

Am I doomed to make nothing but crumbles for the rest of my student life? Or is there some way to get around this problem?
sushidog 1st-Feb-2010 05:26 pm (UTC)
You need an oven thermometer, and possibly a permanent marker. The oven thermometer should allow you to achieve and maintain the temperature you want, and with a bit of experimentation, you may even be able to mark in the correct settings.
triannamaxwell 1st-Feb-2010 05:37 pm (UTC)
How do you change your recipes to use a silicone baking pan?

Do you:
1. Make the cooking time:
a. Longer
b. Shorter

2. Make the cooking temperature:
a. Hotter
b. Cooler

Or some combination?
a_foxie_smile 1st-Feb-2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
1) a
2) b
tijolos 1st-Feb-2010 09:54 pm (UTC)
Is there anything I can do to stop chocolate chips from "sinking" to the bottom of the cake?
newsbean 1st-Feb-2010 10:00 pm (UTC)
Yes, and it's shockingly easy! Before putting the chips in the batter, toss them with flour. They should be fairly well coated before you put them in. This will keep them from sinking to the bottom. Works for cupcakes, brownies and cookies, too.
newsbean 1st-Feb-2010 10:01 pm (UTC)
Would it be possible to forward date this entry so it stay at the top of the page until a new community is set up?
bluemotion 2nd-Feb-2010 01:25 am (UTC)
That doesn't work for communities... unless you know a trick that I don't know.
beach___bum Poundcake4th-Feb-2010 11:21 pm (UTC)
What are some recipes for unique flavored poundcakes? My sister's bday is Saturday and I want to make her a poundcake.
gindaisy Re: Poundcake5th-Feb-2010 10:11 pm (UTC)
Recipe requests are allowed as their own posts so you might get more suggestions if you do that. However, I think rum pound cake sounds excellent! A tablespoon of dark rum in a basic pound cake recipe should do the trick.
gindaisy Crumb Topping5th-Feb-2010 10:06 pm (UTC)
Is there a secret to keeping crumb topping on top? I tried to make crumb topped banana muffins and ended up with the topping sunk in and a very greasy muffin papers.
pitterpaws heavy french bread help!9th-Feb-2010 05:27 pm (UTC)
I made french bread yesterday using recipe. I followed it pretty much to the T, I was only able to add 5 1/2 cups of flour before it became impossible to stir. It came out looking beautiful but, it was very Heavy. The inside was cooked but it wasn't all light and fluffy like the french bread we get from the store. Point is, Can anyone tell me what I did wrong? I would like to try again but I don't want the same results. If french bread is supposed to be heavy can anyone recommend a bread that is lighter?
hergunfight 9th-Feb-2010 06:17 pm (UTC)
Hi All,

I'm a long time lurker here, and I need some advice!

I really want to recreate the big cake in the below picture that I stumbled across on tumblr, without buying that incredibly expensive giant cupcake tin thats absolutely everywhere, can anyone help? Would love any links to product online!

Thanks in advance!
sushidog 9th-Feb-2010 06:32 pm (UTC)
That looks to me as if it's been made in a large brioche tin, so it might be worth looking for one; they're certainly cheaper than the "giant cupcake" tins I've seen. They icing bit may just be icing, or they may have used a smaller cake, perhaps one half of a ball-shaped cake. If you don't want to buy a ball tin, you could make a similar-shaped cake in a pyrex bowl; it's going to be covered in icing anyway, so it doesn't have to be particularly perfect!
oldoakforest Baking cakes in stages11th-Feb-2010 07:23 am (UTC)
It's my friend's birthday soon, and I'm planning on baking her a cake. However, I need to get the layers as flat as possible without needing to level them after baking. If I bake only a single layer at a time, on the bottom level of my oven, the cakes come out nice and level. However, I need to bake four layers. The recipe I'm using makes enough batter for two layers at a time. Will cake batter be okay left out on a counter for forty minutes or so? I'm most worried that when I put it in the oven I'll get no rise at all.
newsbean Re: Baking cakes in stages11th-Feb-2010 02:56 pm (UTC)
Batter does tend to do best when it is baked as soon as it's ready. Is there room on the bottom for two layers to sit side by side? If not, mix all your dry ingredients, and only add the wet when you're ready to bake.

Sounds like a wonderful cake!
beach___bum Cheesecake Question15th-Feb-2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
Hi all. I tried to bake this cheesecake a few weeks ago. I followed the recipe exactly. When it came to baking it, it was supposed to be done after 55-60 minutes. After the 55, it was no where near done. So after an additional half hour of baking, it still wasn't done. I need some advice for the next one because I really want to make this and it be really good because I love this one from the Cheesecake Factory.
Things that may have went wrong:
-I baked the cheesecake in a springform pan, but since it was very high, I put a cookie sheet underneath it just in case it overflowed. Would this have affected the baking?
-Also, when I make the oreo crust, should I have taken the cream out of them before I put them in the food processor?
Any advice on baking cheesecakes would be greatly appreciated, also if you know what went wrong when I baked this, please let me know!

Here's the recipe.
For the Crust:
4 1/2 cups crushed Oreo cookies
1/2 cup melted butter
For the Filling:
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chocolate fudge topping, divided
6 peanut butter cups, cut into small wedges
6 butterfinger, chopped

Crush Oreos in a food processor. Add melted butter and mix well. Press onto bottom and up inch of the the sides of a 10 inch springform pan. Bake at 350 for 6 minutes. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and sour cream until smooth. Add eggs and beat on low speed till combined. Stir in vanilla. Pour half of cream cheese batter over crust. Microwave half of the hot fudge topping till pourable, but not hot. Drizzle this over the cheesecake batter. Sprinkle with half of your peanut butter cups and butterfinger. Pour the rest of your cheesecake batter over the peanut butter cups and butterfinger. Then top with remaining peanut butter cups and butterfinger, pressing down on them a little. Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen but do not remove sides. Cool 1 hour longer on wire rack. Microwave remaining fudge topping and drizzle over top of cheesecake. Refrigerate overnight. Garnish with more peanut butter cups if desired.
newsbean Re: Cheesecake Question15th-Feb-2010 09:42 pm (UTC)
Two questions:

Are you baking at altitude or somewhere with exceptionally humid air?
Are you absolutely certain that your oven is baking at temperature?

When I bake cheesecake (at altitude) I need to adjust the temperature up about 15 degrees and it generally takes an extra 10 minutes. Also, you want the cake to only start to set in the oven (as soon as you shake it and it's not liquidy, it's good. Generally, waiting until the cake begins to crack will take much longer and can result in a really dry cake.) It will finish setting when it's out.
familyrodriguez Freezing cake22nd-Feb-2010 03:41 am (UTC)
If I freeze layers of a layer cake before frosting them, do I freeze them in the pan or out?
drklib Re: Freezing cake22nd-Feb-2010 10:55 pm (UTC)
When I have frozen cakes I usually wrapped them in tinfoil. I don't know if that's the best way. I've seen people also use double layers of plastic wrap
drklib Bread maker question22nd-Feb-2010 10:53 pm (UTC)
I was given a Maxim Simply Bread Machine Model BB-2tw by a co-worker who got it when she got married and stopped using it after a while (she is 20 years older than I am). She lost the owner's manual that came with recipes. I've never used a bread maker before so I don't know how to put the ingredients in it. All I know is not to let the yeast and water touch. Does it matter which goes on the top or bottom? I really want to try my hand at this bread making thing... Thanks for the help!
presqueparfait Orange Hot Chocolate23rd-Feb-2010 05:35 pm (UTC)
I have some orange flavoured hot chocolate mix that you put into milk and I was wondering if it would be any good in cooking (cookies mainly)? And if so, would I need to make any alterations to a recipe (eg. less sugar, less flour)?

In case this will help, the ingredients are as follows: Sugar, Cocoa (40%), Dextrose, Salt, Flavouring.

newsbean Re: Orange Hot Chocolate23rd-Feb-2010 05:40 pm (UTC)
It probably *would* be good in cookies, but since it's the pre-sweetened kind you'll need to do some experimenting to get it right. This recipe looks promising:
orange Mailing baked goods28th-Feb-2010 06:56 pm (UTC)
Hi guys!

I've read numerous articles and suggestions about how to mail baked goods, and the best goods, but I feel most comfortable asking this community.

I'd like to do 3-4 types of baked goods and/or treats. I'd like to keep them fairly simple in technique and ingredient choice. Preferably things that are universally liked.

I'm curious about specific recipes for goods that will hold up very, very well. I'd also like to package them in cute containers if possible, and would love it if you all could suggest great places to purchase these types of things.

Thank you all!
sekerofgodfire Mango's3rd-Apr-2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
Hey all,

I'm a pastry student and we have a final practical coming up.

I have to make a mango meringue pie, except I'm going to be making it in individual rings.

I puree the mango's but when I do they turn a greenish brown color. I'm wondering why. My guess was maybe my blender is dirty or it reacts weird with the metal.

any type of help would be great :)
blewoutthestars Lustre Dust!7th-Apr-2010 06:09 pm (UTC)
Does anybody have any experience using Lustre Dust in cake decoration? I'm considering buying a couple for use on my boyfriend's birthday cake, but I don't know whether it would be effective enough to just dust them onto a coloured fondant icing, or whether it would be better to mix and paint them on - in which case I'm not sure what it's best to mix them with! Any hints or tips on how to get the best out of them? Thanks!
newsbean Re: Lustre Dust!7th-Apr-2010 06:40 pm (UTC)
I've mixed with fondant and had good luck. It definitely made everything sparkly pretty!
noodlecookie Re: UK/US Measuring Cups21st-May-2011 05:54 pm (UTC)
Hideously late but also for anyone else reading this: UK and US measuring cups are not the same. UK measuring cups for example have 1 cup as being 250ml, and US 1 cup is 237ml.

Despite this, I have used UK measuring cups on US recipes and they've worked absolutely fine. I think it's just the ratio of the ingredients that's important.
chocolope lumpy edges with fondant?11th-Apr-2010 05:33 am (UTC)
Every time I made a cake and cover it with fondant I end up with these funny lumpy edges. Doesn't seem to matter how hard I try I still get them. Any ideas what I'm doing wrong?

Here's an example:
noodlecookie Re: lumpy edges with fondant?21st-May-2011 06:08 pm (UTC)
Very late, but I have had this issue for a while and I have only recently solved it!

First of all you have to make absolutely sure that your foundations are stable: carve the cake to the perfect shape. So for the image above, carve a perfect square (with rounded corners if you want to make it a bit easier for yourself) using a bread knife. Practice makes perfect with this, so don't worry if your first few attempts make the cake slightly slanted.

Then make sure you cover the cake with buttercream to crumb coat it (I've found that the standard is the Wilton buttercream recipe which can be found online, but any buttercream that hardens to form a crust can be used). This is to avoid any cake crumbs getting stuck to the fondant, which is irritating especially if the fondant is pure white. Let the buttercream harden in the fridge to form a light crust, and add another thin layer to just before covering with fondant to help the fondant stick.

When you drop the sheet of fondant on top of the cake, smooth it down with your hands at first to get it in place, then use a smoother (sometimes called a polisher) to really smooth it down. Keep rubbing all sides of the cake to make sure it's completely lump-free. Trim off the excess with a dangerously sharp knife; I made the mistake of using a spatula and ended up smoothing out the edge of the fondant because it looked like it had been squashed. Or, just pipe a simple pattern around the fondant border to hide it.

A good tip for anyone wanting to practise this before making a cake is to buy a polystyrene cake dummy (can be found online and they're inexpensive) and pretend it's cake sponge.
stuberyl How to frost a cake12th-Apr-2010 04:41 pm (UTC)
Does anyone know how to, or can anyone point me to a guide that will help me to, make my frosting appear like this?

I just attended session 1 of a level 1 Wilton cake decorating course, but I don't think we're going to cover something this basic (how to make frosting look pretty without getting out the whole toolkit).
februaryfour Re: How to frost a cake2nd-Jan-2011 11:52 pm (UTC)
Sorry I'm answering such an old question, but in case you haven't gotten the answer, you make patterns like that with your icing spatula. It generally works better with icing that's neither too runny nor too stiff.
zombiebeauty Need to know what I can make with Almond bark or Chocolate Bark17th-Apr-2010 04:50 am (UTC)
I bought some on a whim thinking that I would find a recipe online but sadly I just can not figure out what I am suppose to do with it. Any help would be so helpful. Thanks!
a_foxie_smile Re: Need to know what I can make with Almond bark or Chocolate Bark5th-May-2010 07:41 am (UTC)
hazelline Cake shaped like a building!19th-Apr-2010 11:29 am (UTC)
Hi everyone, I should state first of all that though I love to bake and never get any complaints from those who eat my food, I'm not particularly experienced and haven't done much that is particularly ambitious. However, my university is holding a cake pageant in a week and a half. The proceeds go to charity and the cakes will be sampled by passing by students. I think it sounds like a lot of fun, to do something creative and to meet other cake bakers.

My idea was to bake a cake to look like a set of famous buildings at my university, the Norfolk and Suffolk Ziggurats, which is also where I lived in my first year. I was thinking of quite a cartoonish (but recognisable) recreation, like layering different sized square bake tins? I would use rolled icing and decorate the windows on with writing icing. Also, since there are always rabbits around, I was going to bake a few rabbit-shaped cookies to put on the outside. If anyone has any advice on how to go about the cake I would be really grateful! Thanks so much. :)
a_foxie_smile Re: Cake shaped like a building!19th-Apr-2010 06:25 pm (UTC)
we can't see your link - Forbidden without login.
evil_mom cupcake disaster :(22nd-Apr-2010 12:00 am (UTC)
Hello bbb

Today I made 2 dozen cupcakes with Betty Crocker's Bonnie Butter Cake recipe. After 18-20 minutes at 350, the cupcakes passed the toothpick test so I took them out to rest. They fell within a few minutes :( The edges also sort of fell apart when I took them out of the molds. One was particularly beaten up, so I ate it. The exterior was quite crispy, almost crunchy like a sugar cookie, but the interior was light and moist and slightly crumbly, just how it's supposed to be.

I followed directions almost exactly, only I left out a bit of the salt because I was using full-salt butter. Could this be the problem?

Also I used my KitchenAid stand mixer. Maybe I overmixed? Would overmixing cause these issues?

The only thing that will make these babies edible (in my eyes) will be the copious amounts of delicious buttercream I made to top them with.

I'm quite good in the kitchen, especially with desserts, and I don't ever remember having a FAIL moment like this. These cupcakes are for a coworker's birthday tomorrow, and I'm almost tempted to chuck them and start over.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
a_foxie_smile Re: cupcake disaster :(5th-May-2010 07:27 am (UTC)
sounds like you may have either baked them in a temp that was slightly too cool, or that you used too much sugar.
sunrunnersioned 24th-Apr-2010 10:13 am (UTC)
I love meringue, i've followed literally dozens of recipes and done everything step by step. Yet everytime I try to make it, it's gooie in the center. Is the mergingue i had as a child different from this, i thought the center was ice cream...LOL i couldn't think of a better comparsion. Any help would be amazing! thanks in advance!
a_foxie_smile 5th-May-2010 07:23 am (UTC)
you just need to dry it out more. Bake lower, at a lower temp and then turn the oven off and leave them inside overnight to dry even more.
loveishome I want stiff frosting!27th-Apr-2010 02:44 pm (UTC)
Whenever I make homemade frosting, it looks a bit wet and runny. How do I make stiff frosting, that looks like this?
sushidog Re: I want stiff frosting!27th-Apr-2010 03:08 pm (UTC)
That looks like chocolate buttercream; by weight you want two parts confectioner's/icing sugar to one part butter, plus some cocoa powder, at room temperature. Sift the sugar and cocoa, then beat into the butter. If it's too stiff, add a little milk. Keep beating until it's smooth and soft-ish but stiff enough to hold its shape.

Edited at 2010-04-27 03:09 pm (UTC)
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