Lesson 52 introduced us to the two-step, or high-ratio, mixing method. For this class we were making a fruit financier, high-ratio pound cake, and a high-ratio fresh ginger pound cake. A high-ratio cake is easy to recognize from its list of ingredients. The weight of the sugar will always be equal to or greater than the weight of the flour. If you were to use this recipe and make it using the one-step mixing method, the high proportion of sugar could lead to a coarse texture in the final product. That is why in the 1940s, Proctor and Gamble created the two-step mixing method, which creates a particularly fine textured cake.
This method involves combining all of the dry ingredients, adding the fat (usually butter) into the dry ingredients until well incorporated and then combing all of the liquid ingredients and adding them into the mixer in two-to-three additions.
Any recipe that has enough sugar in it can be converted to being made using the high-ratio mixing method. Aside from the great texture that you get from creating a cake this way, the recipes that use it are generally quite fool proof because the amounts of sugar and fat in them prevent gluten development, which can tend to make a cake quite chewy.
As it turned out, everyone’s cakes came out very well, but this was the perfect opportunity to start looking at why sometimes cakes fail. We learned that an unevenly shaped cake can often be caused by improper mixing, spreading the batter unevenly, cake pans being warped, or uneven oven heat. Having too much sugar in the recipe or the oven being too hot can cause a crust that is too dark. Conversely, a crust that is too light may be caused by too little sugar in the recipe or the oven being too cool.
In lesson 53, we took this one step further and worked on crumbcake, another kind of pound cake, lemon-scented white cake and muffins.
Up next, we’re going to need to start filling and icing these cakes! Wish me luck!