Think back to the last time you baked a delicious, professionally–baked cake. Bakery cakes have this lovely, light, smooth airiness to them.
Unfortunately, home-cooked cakes don’t always come out that way— especially those made by box mixes. They can be good flavored, but you’ll notice they can also be a bit dense, and not at all the fluffy delicacy you would get from a bakery. So what goes wrong?
When it comes to ensuring your cake turns out the way you want, it takes a bit of know–how. The density of your cake depends on a number of things, particularly your choice of ingredients. Here are a few tips to help you ‘lighten up‘ those heavy, dense cakes and make them more like the bakery treats you crave.
Reasons for Dense Cakes
Possible reason #1 — it’s too wet. You might think that your cakes are denser because you put in too much flour. To correct this, you might have reduced your amount of flour— only to find your cake even denser.
But a dense cake actually indicates the opposite: it’s too much liquid. Too many eggs, oil, or even sugar (which is considered a ‘liquid‘ ingredient in baking) will result in your cake being overly–moist. Moisture creates heaviness/density.
Solution: Add a little more flour or a little less liquid.
Possible reason #2 — under beating or overbeating. There’s a fine line you have to walk when you’re trying to beat your batter. In the first place, you need to beat it enough so that you can whip up air bubbles— which will help keep the batter light and fluffy. This is mostly necessary in the beginning when you’re creaming the butter, sugar, and eggs together.
On the other hand, by overbeating flour you can overdevelop the gluten, making it kind of gummy and thick. This causes the cake to fall or sink in on itself, and it won’t rise properly.
Solution: Cream the butter and eggs well, but slowly, with a beater. When you add flour, add only enough to incorporate. Once incorporated— stop stirring.
Possible reason #3: leavening agent. Your leavening agent is an important factor in letting your cake rise. If your cakes are dense, it could be that you don’t have enough.
It could also mean your leavening agent’s shelf life is kaput. Baking powder doesn’t last that long— once you open it, the clock is ticking. It continues to decrease ineffectiveness. Don’t let the ‘use by‘ date fool you— that simply for when it remains sealed. If your product has been sitting on a shelf for a while, it might not be giving your cakes the kick they need.
Solution: Buy some new leavening agent, or try more.
Possible Reason #4: your flour is too dense. Not all flours are made equal. Bread flours, for example, are heavier and have denser gluten. You wouldn’t want that on your cake. All–Purpose flour is kind of ‘in-between’, so that it can be more versatile. It can work, but it’s still heavier than a cake would ideally need. Cake flour is the best option: it’s got soft gluten, it’s very fine, and as such results in a very tender cake. This can be the difference between a more professional–tasting cake, and just an ordinary one.
Solution: use cake flour.
- 4 cups cake flour
- 2 tsps. baking soda
- 1⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 2 tsps. of vanilla
- 1⁄2 tsp. of salt
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 1 cup oil
- 2 cups water
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease and flour a cake pan.
- Get a large mixing bowl, and then pour in the flour, baking soda, sugar, cocoa, and salt. Mix them together on slow.
- Pour in the oil then gradually mix. Add the vinegar then slowly mix. Add vanilla, then gradually mix again. Add the cold water to the mixture.
- Once the water is incorporated, increase the speed to medium and mix until the batter becomes smooth.
- In your cake baking pan, pour in over the chocolate mixture. Evenly spread the mixture in the pan. Put it in the oven and increase the pre–heated oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bake the cake for about an hour. Check it by inserting a toothpick or skewer. When the tool comes out clean it should be ready.
- Let it cool completely before removing it from the pan. Then you can eat it—or decorate it!