Before the Mod 2 practical, I picked up my binder for Mod 3, which was to be the cake mod. So far in the program we had yet to bake a cake, brownie, cupcake or cookie (other than the 1 gingersnap we made the second class). As I looked through the binder my excitement was overwhelming. I looked through the curriculum and every cake that I’d heard of (and many that I hadn’t) were listed. Chocolate cake, pound cake, financier along side cakes like dobosotorte and genoise mousseline.
I was also a bit nervous. I would be getting a new chef-instructor for this mod and wasn’t sure what do expect. What did I need to do to prepare? Also, I had been told that each module would get faster and faster, would I be able to keep up? This moment marked my exact half way point through the program. Fifty lessons down, fifty to go.
Lesson 51 listed 3 cakes for us to make: the Horseradish Grill chocolate cake, carrot cake and fig orange muffins. We started class by learning about 2 different types of cake: fat and foam cakes. Fat cakes are often made by the one-step, two-step, creaming and modified creaming methods. Foam cakes on the other hand rise from the air trapped inside the cake; angel food cake, chiffon cake and sponge cake all fall into this category.
We went through the creaming method and then got to work in our groups of 3 on these 3 recipes.
All of the cakes we made in this first class were created using the one step mixing method. The one set method is probably the simplest cakes making method because all you do is combine all the dry ingredients, combine all the liquid ingredients and then add the liquid to the dry, being careful not to over mix.
While the cakes were baking we learned many technique tips. If you’re adding eggs to a batter, whisk them before adding them into the liquid ingredients so that you don’t develop gluten when adding to the flour. Baking soda makes baked goods brown more than baking powder. Unless someone has an allergy, peanut, sunflower, canola, or corn oil can all be substituted for one another. The only kind of flour you need to sift is cake flour, which tends to clump.
As far as cake pans go, you should generally fill cake pans 2/3 of the way with batter and, if making a fat cake, slam them a bit. Invert pans after they come out of the oven after 5 minutes for a cupcake, 10 minutes for a 9-inch cake, and 15 minutes for anything larger. When a cake starts to pull away from the sides of a pan, it generally means that it is overdone.
As far as different ovens, we learned that convection ovens at home tend to run 25 degrees hotter than normal ovens and commercially they could be as much as 50 degrees warmer. This means that they generally run 15% faster. You would think this would mean that whenever possible you should bake in the convection oven, but that oven has its downsides as well. Because of the fan used in convection baking, muffin tops will brown much nicer in a convection but you also run the risk of the tops being blown off and your muffin winding up sideways.
As you can tell, there is much to learn about making the perfect cake. Hopefully I will be able to absorb it all as class goes by!