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Old 10th June 2014, 19:48   #1306
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Baking powder (a mix of soda bicarb and citric acid) starts releasing CO2 as soon as it hits water. Substituting water with milk is not such a good idea, as the fat molecules in milk will insulate some of the baking powder particles, reducing the reaction. Also, some of the citric acid will be neutralized with milk (calcium compounds). The longer one leaves the batter before baking, more the gas that escapes. And it is the CO2 that makes the cakes rise and become fluffy - same as the action of yeast eating sugars in flour in making bread.

If liquid is less in the cake, the top surface cracks and CO2 escapes - and cake ultimately collapses after rising.
That was a good analysis, thanks for sharing. I preheated the oven and then baked for 30 minutes on 180 degree. Didn't leave the batter out for too long but yes, during the period of preheat, which came to around 8 minutes. Next time no milk, only water. Top surface cracked at one place, about 2 inch. Top was not really crusty; the inner was cooked, but more like a densely packed than fluffy.

Now that you have explained on the CO2 part, one another thing strikes me; I was using a large baking pan, around 10-11 inch diameter. I remember that the batter was just around 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. The center portion and the sides didn't rise as the rest, which did rise like a doughnut.

Or is the coffee making all the difference? I did add about 2 tsp instant coffee powder. What will be the consequence if I add a bit more sugar than recommended? I would like to make it a bit more sweet especially because of the added coffee. And the final ingredients, egg and butter. Any idea on how the cake will turn out if we use these a bit more or a bit less; just for my knowledge.
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Old 11th June 2014, 11:00   #1307
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That was a good analysis, thanks for sharing. I preheated the oven and then baked for 30 minutes on 180 degree. Didn't leave the batter out for too long but yes, during the period of preheat, which came to around 8 minutes. Next time no milk, only water. Top surface cracked at one place, about 2 inch. Top was not really crusty; the inner was cooked, but more like a densely packed than fluffy.

Now that you have explained on the CO2 part, one another thing strikes me; I was using a large baking pan, around 10-11 inch diameter. I remember that the batter was just around 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. The center portion and the sides didn't rise as the rest, which did rise like a doughnut.

Or is the coffee making all the difference? I did add about 2 tsp instant coffee powder. What will be the consequence if I add a bit more sugar than recommended? I would like to make it a bit more sweet especially because of the added coffee. And the final ingredients, egg and butter. Any idea on how the cake will turn out if we use these a bit more or a bit less; just for my knowledge.
Baking is more maths and precision than other forms of cooking. All ingredients need to be of the correct proportion and the mixing has to be right. There are a lot of things that could go wrong, so don't worry, but be extra careful till you become comfortable with baking. e.g. when folding in the flour into the beaten eggs you need to be very careful that it is not mixed too much, which may cause the cake to go flat.

Do follow a good recipe to the "T" till you are comfortable with baking before you try and experiment.
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Old 11th June 2014, 11:54   #1308
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Default re: Recipes / Discussions on cooking from Team-BHP Master Chefs

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... the inner was cooked, but more like a densely packed than fluffy. ... I was using a large baking pan, around 10-11 inch diameter. I remember that the batter was just around 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. The center portion and the sides didn't rise as the rest, which did rise like a doughnut. ...
A-ha! No, please use an 8" or 9" pan. Pan size governs amount of batter. The batter should cover at least half the height of the cake form.

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... Or is the coffee making all the difference? I did add about 2 tsp instant coffee powder. What will be the consequence if I add a bit more sugar than recommended?... if we use these a bit more or a bit less; just for my knowledge.
As long as the liquids are in the right quantity (slightly more liquid in summer than winter), a bit of variation affects only the texture (eggs, butter) and sweetness (sugar) - no harm. No problem with the coffee powder. Also, adding a bit of any neutral oil makes the cake more moist.

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Baking is more maths and precision than other forms of cooking. All ingredients need to be of the correct proportion and the mixing has to be right. ...
Only if you want one instance to be the same as the next or previous instance (repeatability), and even then it is not really an exact science. A +/-20% variation (one or two ingredients, not many) doesn't cause a catastrophe, only a difference in texture and taste. Professional cooks and bakers never change known sources of good ingredients, and never change quantities and process. To achieve repeatability, a good kitchen weigh scale matters a lot (and costs about 700-800). Also, a cooking thermometer. Professionally one doesn't go by volume measure, except for minor ingredient used in small quantities.

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... e.g. when folding in the flour into the beaten eggs you need to be very careful that it is not mixed too much, which may cause the cake to go flat. ...
Correct, softly fold the flour into the batter, not mix vigorously. Folding means a unidirectional motion, not going in the other direction at all.

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... Do follow a good recipe to the "T" till you are comfortable with baking before you try and experiment.
He he he he if you watch Masterchef you will realize that even the most detailed recipes are difficult to replicate, unless one is in the disciplined state of mind.

All other recipes - in books and on the net - assume that the reader is decently proficient in cooking, and hence leave out some things that have a significant effect, especially with the quality of ingredients. For example, almost all Indian recipes just say "Salt to taste". If you are not so proficient, you will fail to notice that different brands of salt have differing "saltiness". Unless you ask your wife (assuming she is the daily cook) how much for the quantity of the dish, you will make a grave mistake.

The key step in the cooking process is to frequently taste. Doing this builds the memory bank of "right" and "wrong" (experience), and allows you to make an early adjustment. That is the difference between a good product and an irretrievable catastrophe.
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Old 11th June 2014, 12:22   #1309
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He he he he if you watch Masterchef you will realize that even the most detailed recipes are difficult to replicate, unless one is in the disciplined state of mind.

All other recipes - in books and on the net - assume that the reader is decently proficient in cooking, and hence leave out some things that have a significant effect, especially with the quality of ingredients. For example, almost all Indian recipes just say "Salt to taste". If you are not so proficient, you will fail to notice that different brands of salt have differing "saltiness". Unless you ask your wife (assuming she is the daily cook) how much for the quantity of the dish, you will make a grave mistake.
I do agree with what you are saying and besides watching Masterchef, I love to cook at home for pleasure. The only area where I like to disagree is when you start to bake, it can be very frustrating unless you have a good and simple recipe to follow as you are not sure of the outcome of the dishes. There are a lot of simple recipes available in the net which are very precise. In the case of Indian cooking, you could always rectify and recover the dish if things go wrong, whereas in baking, it is consigned to the dump. e.g. if the salt is excess in a gravy, you could add a few pieces of potatoes to drain the excess salt whereas if a cake is too hard, you will not be able to recover it.
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Old 11th June 2014, 12:27   #1310
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Default re: Recipes / Discussions on cooking from Team-BHP Master Chefs

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if a cake is too hard
You never call it a cake in front of others.

You slice into two parts.
Apply some peanut butter, nutella etc and make it a biscuit sandwich.

This is how I deal with baking disasters and win.

Just kidding but I get your point.
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Old 11th June 2014, 12:34   #1311
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You never call it a cake in front of others.

You slice into two parts.
Apply some peanut butter, nutella etc and make it a biscuit sandwich.

This is how I deal with baking disasters and win.

Just kidding but I get your point.
Or you could make crumbs out of it and use it in different dishes like ice creams
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Old 11th June 2014, 12:44   #1312
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Didn't leave the batter out for too long but yes, during the period of preheat, which came to around 8 minutes.
Next time start pre-heating the oven as you start to prepare the batter. So by the time your batter is prepared your oven will be ready.
Also, most recipes mention a specific pan size which is optimum for the recipe. Stick to that. If you have smaller or larger pan decrease or increase the ingredients in the ratio according to the recipe.
Also, as suggested earlier stick to some well tested recipe to the T till you gain enough confidence.
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Old 11th June 2014, 13:16   #1313
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Default re: Recipes / Discussions on cooking from Team-BHP Master Chefs

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... if the salt is excess in a gravy, you could add a few pieces of potatoes to drain the excess salt ...
Watch out, it doesn't really work when Murphy's Law strikes!

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... and make it a biscuit sandwich. ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by ksmrsm View Post
Or you could make crumbs out of it and use it in different dishes like ice creams


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... till you gain enough confidence.
And make mistakes confidently!!! ROFL
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Old 11th June 2014, 13:24   #1314
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Watch out, it doesn't really work when Murphy's Law strikes!


When Murphy's Law strikes is when you start praying and remembering all your favorite gods. Especially if you have guests.
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Old 11th June 2014, 14:05   #1315
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Do we have a link to a tried, simple cake recipe?

In the above coffee cake recipe which I followed, butter and sugar seems to be half of the flour used. My mom now recollects that she used to put flour, sugar and butter in 1:1 ratios.
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Old 11th June 2014, 14:38   #1316
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Do we have a link to a tried, simple cake recipe?

In the above coffee cake recipe which I followed, butter and sugar seems to be half of the flour used. My mom now recollects that she used to put flour, sugar and butter in 1:1 ratios.
You could try out my wife's recipes, various options available in her blog:

http://eq-myblog.blogspot.in/p/a-la-carte.html
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Old 11th June 2014, 17:57   #1317
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I have been baking cakes for over forty years, and they rarely flop. The main reasons for flop are.

. Too much or too little liquid.
. Temperature too low - the cake will not rise much and be more like a biscuit.
. Temperature too high - the cake will rise and then collapse. The bottom and sides will be burnt, or in case they are well done the inside will be raw.
. Baking powder lost its power.
. Too shallow. The cake mix should be at least 2 inches - 50 cm when poured and at least double when done.

Regarding Milk, water, oil, butter, ghee. Every thing goes and has very little to do with cake shape and size, but every thing with taste. Milk and butter taste better, oil and water are cheaper.

I use ovens both gas and electric. Microwave is a bit tricky as it heats up the water in the batter, and my case one side heats up more than the other. So I avoid MW both for cakes and idlis.

If you have gas and no oven, you can make a "Dutch Oven" at home :
1. Take a large pot, say 12"/30cm across.
2. Take a smaller pot, say 8"/20cm across.
3. Pour some clean sand in the larger pot - 1/4"/6mm thick.
4. Put the second pot in the first and centre it.

. The sand acts as a thermal regulator, so there is no harm in having a thicker layer, it will only take longer to heat up.
. If I remember well, I had brought the sand from a construction site and washed it thoroughly after sifting it in a sieve to get rid of other material.
. For best results you need as think pots as you can find, 6mm is fine and 8mm for outer one is better.

You now have an Oven. Preheat the "oven" for at least 30 min. Keep both the lids on, both while preheating and while baking.

I used to prepare cakes and a lot of roast chicken/mutton leg when our older gas oven gave up. It is as good as a gas oven.
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Old 11th June 2014, 21:18   #1318
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Since I was short on butter and egg, instead of doing a cake, I ended up trying my hands on cookies, using mom's old naankatta (malayalam for cookies) recipe.

Ingredients:
Flour 1 1/2 cup
Vanaspati/Dalda 200 gm
Sugar powdered 1 1/2 cup
Baking powder 1 tsp
Cardamom powder and vanilla essence as required


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The first batch was cooked at 180 degree for ~30 minutes and got slightly burnt. The second batch was perfect, baked at 160 degree for ~20 min and the third at 200 degree for ~14 min, coffee powder added as topping before baking.

It was very sweet as the 1 1/2 cup granule sugar came to 2+ cup after powdering. I guess it required only 1 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.

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You could try out my wife's recipes, various options available in her blog
Aww, that seems quite an amount of writing. The first thing that struck me was this: This tastes much like our marriage "- all spiced up and full of heat,slightly nutty with a hint of the bitter coffee but at the same time chewy, fudge y and chocolate y"

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Substituting water with milk is not such a good idea, as the fat molecules in milk will insulate some of the baking powder particles, reducing the reaction.
Hi DerAlte, I was pondering on this as I found many a cake recipe with milk. If fat was indeed an issue, the biggest fat in cake comes from butter/oil, right?
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Old 11th June 2014, 22:01   #1319
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....
Hi DerAlte, I was pondering on this as I found many a cake recipe with milk. If fat was indeed an issue, the biggest fat in cake comes from butter/oil, right?
Right!
The fat in even whole milk would pale in comparison!
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Old 12th June 2014, 12:18   #1320
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... naankatta (malayalam for cookies) ...
Nankhatai in the Hindi-speaking world. That is the original cookie / biscuit in India. One gets lovely nankhatai in Gujarat (Ahmedabad / Baroda / Surat etc.), Hyderabad, Delhi etc. Dying art in other parts of North India.

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... If fat was indeed an issue, the biggest fat in cake comes from butter/oil, right?
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Right!
The fat in even whole milk would pale in comparison!
Unless one rubs the butter into the flour to make crumbs (like one does for making pastry dough), the added butter participates at a macro level, only when heated. Like oil (added in cakes to retain moistness), melted butter fat prevents water vapour from escaping. Oil is more efficient in this, but it doesn't give the flavour that we expect.

Milk, on the other hand, is the wetting agent which acts at the micro level. Fat granules in the milk are comparable in size to flour the particles of soda bicarb and citric acid in the baking powder, or slightly larger. It is like some people in a crowd will be comparatively dry if one sprays a crowd with water.

The other effect is due to milk having calcium compounds which react to citric acid faster than soda bicarb, reducing the amount of acid available to react with soda bicarb. Adding a couple of teaspoons of vinegar compensates for this - I do that with Irish Soda bread / scones to make them fluffy.

We usually ignore the fact that there is a lot of chemistry, physics and mechanics involved in cooking. One doesn't need that at the top of the mind while cooking, but it definitely pays to understand the why's and wherefore's to get it right and make it better. That is what is done in food tech & manufacturing to get quality and repeatability. Good cooks do it intuitively, and never change anything once they get it right.
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