Cake mixing techniques are always more important than cake baking temperatures. I demonstrated this in an earlier blog by using a butter cake recipe to demonstrate the creaming method. This method combines butter and sugar to trap air, then uses egg yolks to form an emulsification.
The limiting factor of the creaming method is that butter is not 100 percent fat. Butter is composed of 85 percent fat, about 10 percent water and 5 percent milk solids. With less fat, butter will hold less liquid during an emulsification. This means a drier, tougher cake.
To make a very moist cake, a greater amount of liquid is needed, and shortening will hold more liquid in a cake batter than butter will. Regular shortening is 100 percent fat. In the professional bake shop, we use an ingredient called “high-ratio” shortening. This special type of fat creates an even better emulsification in cake formulas with a greater amount of liquid.
The “Two-Stage” cake mixing method uses this high ratio shortening to create a very moist, soft texture, but firm structure cake. The “White Whisper Cake” that I create in the accompanying video uses this method.
The two stage method differs from the creaming method because shortening and flour are combined, rather than butter and sugar, in the first step. The purpose in the creaming method was to trap air. However, the purpose in the two stage method is to simply combine the ingredients because the great amount of liquid is what will leaven the cake, not trapped air.
Sugar, vanilla and milk are added to the fat and flour mixture, which is where the two stages of the two-stage method begin. This cake mixing method gets its name from alternating flour, liquid, and then flour and liquid in two stages to get as much liquid into the formula as possible.
If you’ve been disappointed with dry cakes and recipes that “didn’t come out”, examine the cake mixing methods that you’re using. When you switch from butter and sugar in a creaming method, to the two-stage method that professionals use with shortening and flour, you’ll never be subject to a disappointing recipe again. You’ll be smarter than the recipe because you know the methods behind them.
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