Friday, July 17, 2009

Cake Personality

Like fine wine, a cake that is baked from scratch will be very different from flavor to flavor. Some cake recipes will bring elements together that result in a moist, springy texture, while other recipes will merge ingredients resulting in a denser, slightly heavy cake. Surprisingly, some taste buds out there are quick to declare that a cake is only good if it is moist. That may be the call of many, but it is not the declaration of all.

I suspect that with 40 plus years of improved box mixes that include added chemicals designed to lengthen shelf life and keep food items from going rock-hard, much of our society has experienced ultra moist cakes so often that the experience of varied texture may seem foreign. A cake less than 'uber' moist may be unexpected and immediately rejected. Sound familiar?

So how does one ‘break on through to the other side’ and give all forms of cake density a chance?
The next time you are about to take a bite of an unfamiliar, but made from scratch, cake consider the ingredients that make up the cake. Remember, we're talking FROM SCRATCH box or pre-packaged mixes. Box mixes will be moist because the market has the majority of our population pegged and is sticking with a formula that sells.

Consider our Red Velvet cupcake. This is, by far, one of our hottest selling and most requested flavors. There are many recipes for Red Velvet. The recipe I grew up with was my mother's and can be dated back at least 50 years. As much as I love baking a full size cake with her recipe, it is not the recipe I use for my Red Velvet cupcakes in our shop. I use a recipe that I found in Southern Living Magazine many years back. Red Velvet is traditionally a dense cake that contains cocoa and is topped with a cream cheese frosting. Unless requested in a preorder, we top our Red Velvet with our buttercream frosting. I won't go into its history here, but when made from scratch, this cake is a solid slice of yummmm!

If you have only experienced red velvet as a moist cake, then it is likely to have been a box mix cake or made from a batter that has been tweaked to satisfy a moist-cake-only palette. I would encourage you to step back about 80 years, before added chemicals were used to 'keep cake moist' and try a variety of different cakes. You can visit our shop, bake something up yourself, or talk Grams into baking a few cakes this holiday season.

Whether you prefer white cake to chocolate or cream cheese frosting to buttercream, I would encourage you to keep an open mind as you open your mouth for a bite of cake! =)