This section is from the book "Experimental Cookery From The Chemical And Physical Standpoint", by Belle Lowe. Also available from Amazon: Experimental cookery.
Fig. 54. - The effect of baking temperature upon scores of a rich (Recipe A) and a less rich (Recipe B) chocolate cake. (Rogosheski and Bernds)
Baking temperatures for chocolate cake. Rogosheski and Bernds used two chocolate cake recipes, one a very rich cake (A), the formula for which is given in the laboratory outline, Experiment 85A. The other recipe (B) was identically like Recipe A except one-fourth cup less of butter and of sugar were used. The batter for one series of cakes was divided, 250 grams being weighed into each pan.
The effect of baking temperature upon cake volume is shown in Fig. 53, the richer cake giving a smaller volume than Recipe B. But for both recipes the volume increased with higher baking temperatures. The relation of baking temperatures to total scores is shown in Fig. 54.
The results should be taken as suggestive rather than final, for only small loaf cakes were used. But since the texture and eating quality improve and the velvetiness of the crumb increases progressively with increase of oven temperature up to 205 °C, it suggests that there has been too much tendency to sacrifice texture for the appearance and shape of the top of the cake.
The shape of the top and the way the cake shrinks from the sides of the pan are characteristic for each temperature. During the last of the baking period and cooling, the cake baked at the lowest temperature shrinks the most, both in height and from the sides of the pan. As the oven temperature is elevated, the shrinking progressively decreases, until none occurs in cakes baked at 195°C.
At the lowest temperature the top of the cake was level or had a slight depression in the center. As the baking temperature increased the top became rounded until at the highest temperature the top punched up in the middle entirely too much for a good appearance. There was a tendency for the cakes baked at 205° and particularly at 215° to become too brown on the edges. If these factors as well as eating quality are taken into consideration, the preferable baking temperature for these formulas appears to be from 195° to 205°C. (Approximately 385° to 400°F.)
Schaal suggests that for bakers' chocolate cakes 380°F. is a good baking temperature. He says, "Bake the goods until they are just barely done. It is a mistake to overbake, since overbaking impairs the flavor just as much as a flashy oven, or an oven at too high a temperature."
The oven temperature at start of baking. Peet and Lowe baked plain cake (Formula I) from a cold and preheated start in three electric, two gas, and one kerosene range. The twelve cakes were mixed at one time on an Institutional Hobart mixer. Equal amounts of batter were weighed into the 8-inch square pans immediately after mixing. One-half the recipe was used for each cake. The batter baked in the preheated ovens stood in the pans while that started in the cold ovens was baking. Since a sulfate-phosphate baking powder was used, it was thought the standing was less serious for the tests than to use different mixes. The ovens were all set to maintain a temperature of 185°C, once this temperature was reached.
The cakes started in the preheated ovens were superior in texture, velveti-ness, and eating quality to those started in cold ovens. In scoring the cakes the judges found no significant differences in cakes baked in different ranges.
The volumes of cakes baked in different ranges varied, the differences being highly significant. But there was no significant variation in the volume of cakes baked in the same range from a cold and a preheated start.
The texture of the cakes baked from a cold start resembled that of cakes baked at lower temperatures in Stone's study.
Temperature for removing cake from the pan. Cakes containing fat have not been given much care in cooling, but Glabau has reported that the cake should not be removed from the pan nor handled until the interior temperature of the cake has reached 140°F. This time varies somewhat with the thickness of the cake and the room temperature but is about 15 minutes or longer. When cakes are first removed from the oven the structure is fragile. With cooling the critical time for handling passes and the cake becomes sufficiently rigid to withstand the shock of handling.
Ingredients used in cakes. Flour. In general, soft-wheat flours give better results than bread flour in cakes. Very tender cakes and cakes of excellent texture are obtained by using specially prepared cake flours. All-purpose flours give good results in the plain cake recipe of the laboratory outline. In the cake recipes in the laboratory outline only 100 grams of all-purpose flour are used for a cup. The smaller weight of flour per cup reduces the total gluten in the cake. Sometimes about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch are substituted for 2 tablespoons of flour in a cup of bread flour. This also lessens the percentage of gluten and the gluten strength of the flour, but too much cornstarch is likely to produce too dry and too powdery a crumb, and the cake does not keep so well; nor does adding cornstarch render the granule size fine and uniform.
Patterson emphasizes the importance of uniform grinding of the flour used for cake, so that the particles are as nearly of the same size as possible. He thinks the uniformity of the particles of flour aids in attaining uniform cells in the cake. He states that in an ideal cake the gas cells should expand to about 1/16 of an inch in diameter, and at this point they should rupture slightly, allowing the gas to escape. He also emphasizes the im-portance of gluten development on the structure of the cake.
Fat. Butter is preferable in cakes because of its flavor, the rich, full-flavored, but not rancid, being better than the mild. Oils and melted fats can be used in cakes, but the texture is not as good as when fats that can be creamed are used. Creaming is forming a foam by incorporating air bubbles in a fat by stirring. Creaming fat is somewhat similar to beating eggs or egg whites, in that the enclosed air later aids in leavening. Air is enclosed in the fat more rapidly after some sugar is added, hence creaming is usually done by adding the sugar to the fat, either gradually during the creaming process, or all at one time. The sugar adsorbs a portion of the fat on its surface and is suspended in the fat. If, as suggested in the chapter on meats, adsorption of fat at an interface renders it softer and more plastic than when not adsorbed at the same temperature, a suggestion is given for better creaming after the sugar is added. In addition the sugar crystals aid in supporting the fat in the walls around the air bubbles in much the same manner as the fat globules in whipped cream. See Fig. 31. For a fat to cream or form a foam it must have some body, for if it is too warm so that it is partially or entirely melted it does not cream. On the other hand, a fat that is hard and brittle and not plastic does not cream well. The hard fats like tallow with high melting points are not desirable in cakes. They do not cream well and on account of their hardness after the cake has cooled, they impart a firm, crumbly texture.