Baking (rec.food.baking) For bakers, would-be bakers, and fans and consumers of breads, pastries, cakes, pies, cookies, crackers, bagels, and other items commonly found in a bakery. Includes all methods of preparation, both conventional and not.

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  #1 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 03-12-2003, 09:52 PM
Elitsirk
 
Posts: n/a
Default rich, moist chocolate cake

I've been on a hunt for a rich, moist chocolate cake recipe. At
various restaurants, I've had rich, dark, moist cakes, but the closest
home version I can find is a Duncan Hines devils' food cake.

Does anyone have a from-scratch recipe? Or at least a guide for what
to look for in a chocolate cake recipe (i.e. cocoa vs chocolate,
presence/absence of things like sour cream, etc)?

I've tried a couple of cakes (chocolate pound cake, and the basic
chocolate cake recipe) in The Cake Bible, and they came out drier,
with a paler color than I would have liked. (As a side note, if you
accidentally melt the butter by adding the water/cocoa poweder mixture
while it's still hot in the basic cake recipe, it makes decent
brownies....).

Last week for Thanksgiving, I made a cake called "rich chocolate cake"
from a bargain cookbook that was ok, but certainly not rich. Instead
of cocoa powder, it called for bittersweet chocolate, and used brown
sugar instead of regular. The color was extremely light, and the
chocolate taste only so-so.

Thanks for any hints!
--Elit.

  #2 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 03-12-2003, 10:15 PM
H. W. Hans Kuntze
 
Posts: n/a
Default rich, moist chocolate cake

Elitsirk wrote:

I've been on a hunt for a rich, moist chocolate cake recipe. At
various restaurants, I've had rich, dark, moist cakes, but the closest
home version I can find is a Duncan Hines devils' food cake.


=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D REZKONV-Rezept - RezkonvSuite v0.96f

Titel: Chocolate "Mont Blanc" cake
Kategorien: Cake, Chocolate
Menge: 1 Rezept

250 Gramm Dark chocolate
100 Gramm Sugar
100 Gramm Unsalted butter, pieces
75 Gramm Plain flour
4 Eggs, separated
2 tablesp. Liquid to flavour *

=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3 D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=
=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D QUELLE =3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3 D=
=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D
-Erfasst *RK* 10.10.02 von
-H.W. Hans Kuntze, CMC

Melt chocolate with liquid in bowl over hot water. Add butter and
stir until melted in. Beat in sugar and egg yolks, then add flour.

Fold in stiffly beaten eggwhites. Pour into greased and floured tin.

Bake for about 40 minutes in oven at 180 degrees, until skewer comes
out clean. Watch for burning; chocolate burns horribly.

Note: this cake is called "Mont Blanc" because it's meant to be
cooked in a kugelhopf mould, and then the centre hole filled with a
mound of cream before serving, so that it resembles a snow covered
mountain. It's very nice this way!

*coffee, liqueur, brandy work well. You must use water if nothing
else!

=3D=3D=3D=3D=3D


--=20
Sincerly,

C=3D=A6-)=A7 H. W. Hans Kuntze, CMC, S.g.K. (_o_)
http://www.cmcchef.com , chefATcmcchef.com
"Don't cry because it's over, Smile because it Happened"
_/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/=20

  #3 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 03-12-2003, 11:19 PM
Dee Randall
 
Posts: n/a
Default rich, moist chocolate cake

Nothing ever has enough of a chocolate taste to me, so

I bought some Star Kay White's chocolate extract and used it as an addition
to brownies, using their advice "It is used to enrich, fortify and enhance
chocolate flavored food products." But when I added a teaspoon to a pan of
brownies, the brownie had a chemical taste. Perhaps I should have left out
the vanilla in the recipe -- maybe I did leave it out, I don't remember now
and can't locate the recipe.



Wanting myself a rich moist chocolate cake like Duncan-Hines devils' food
cake recipe, I would be tempted to add this chocolate extract, but I think
it would take more than this extract to make the taste-alike Duncan Hines
devils food cake.



Some might ask if one likes the Duncan Hines mix so well why not use it?

My Answer: I try not to use any product that has hydrogenated oils,
vegetable shortening, vegetable oils, etc. in it. Although I have used
products that do contain it, I would prefer not to use them on a consistent
basis. And I like the process of "trying" to bake a good product.



As an aside, since I bought some "Green and Black" organic hot chocolate mix
over the holidays, even it is NOT chocolaty enough for me, and I'm tempted
to add some of the chocolate extract to it.



Does anyone use "chocolate extract" often or have a track record with it - I
'd be glad to hear any experience.



Thanks,

Dee

"Elitsirk" wrote in message
om...
I've been on a hunt for a rich, moist chocolate cake recipe. At
various restaurants, I've had rich, dark, moist cakes, but the closest
home version I can find is a Duncan Hines devils' food cake.

Does anyone have a from-scratch recipe? Or at least a guide for what
to look for in a chocolate cake recipe (i.e. cocoa vs chocolate,
presence/absence of things like sour cream, etc)?

I've tried a couple of cakes (chocolate pound cake, and the basic
chocolate cake recipe) in The Cake Bible, and they came out drier,
with a paler color than I would have liked. (As a side note, if you
accidentally melt the butter by adding the water/cocoa poweder mixture
while it's still hot in the basic cake recipe, it makes decent
brownies....).

Last week for Thanksgiving, I made a cake called "rich chocolate cake"
from a bargain cookbook that was ok, but certainly not rich. Instead
of cocoa powder, it called for bittersweet chocolate, and used brown
sugar instead of regular. The color was extremely light, and the
chocolate taste only so-so.

Thanks for any hints!
--Elit.



  #4 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 03-12-2003, 11:36 PM
H. W. Hans Kuntze
 
Posts: n/a
Default rich, moist chocolate cake

Dee Randall wrote:

Nothing ever has enough of a chocolate taste to me, so
[...]


Does anyone use "chocolate extract" often or have a track record with it=

- I
'd be glad to hear any experience.

http://www.saffron.com/
But their Extract page is hard to find and is at.
http://www.theposter.com/extracts2.html

The brand is Golden Gate and i've been using them for years, excellent.=20
Shipping is free.
The extracts are extremely potent, use in moderation, especially the=20
butter pecan for Toll-House cookies.
IMHO much-much better than Pennzy's f.i. or the junk you find in=20
supermarkets.

BTW, their persian saffron is great too, best quality.

Although on Vanilla I use "La Vencadora" (hard to get, try Ebay)=20
straight from Mexico.
Some of the mexican vanilla is no good, "La Vencadora" is excellent.

--=20
Sincerly,

C=3D=A6-)=A7 H. W. Hans Kuntze, CMC, S.g.K. (_o_)
http://www.cmcchef.com , chefATcmcchef.com
"Don't cry because it's over, Smile because it Happened"
_/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/=20

  #5 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 03-12-2003, 11:48 PM
Alex Rast
 
Posts: n/a
Default rich, moist chocolate cake

at Wed, 03 Dec 2003 21:52:56 GMT in
,
(Elitsirk) wrote :

I've been on a hunt for a rich, moist chocolate cake recipe. At
various restaurants, I've had rich, dark, moist cakes, but the closest
home version I can find is a Duncan Hines devils' food cake.

Does anyone have a from-scratch recipe?


This recipe is for the cake portion of "Chocolate Death", my ultimate
chocolate cake recipe that I posted some time back. It's hard to go wrong
with this one.

Chocolate cake

8 oz. 70%-type bittersweet chocolate (Guittard Bittersweet recommended)
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup flour
8 tbsp butter
4 eggs
1/3 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350F. Thoroughly grease and flour a 9" cake pan.
Separate the eggs into yolks and whites. Cut up the butter
and allow to soften a bit. Bring the water to a simmer, and in it melt the
chocolate over low heat (that's right - *in* the water). Remove from the
heat and stir in the egg yolks one at a time. Add the sugar and butter
and mix well. Once everything has melted, stir in the flour. Whip the egg
whites into stiff peaks and fold in. Pour into the prepared pan and bake at
350F for 45-50 minutes, testing carefully to avoid scorching. Remove and
cool.

Or at least a guide for what
to look for in a chocolate cake recipe (i.e. cocoa vs chocolate,
presence/absence of things like sour cream, etc)?


Now, let me give a bit of a guide on identifying what to look for. I can
use the recipe above for examples.

The most important thing to bear in mind is that it's not a question of
which ingredients are in a recipe, or even how much of a main ingredient
there is, but rather of proportions and method. As a result, you have to
look at the relative amounts of ingredients instead of the absolute
amounts. This takes some experience and practice. It helps to have an
awareness of what different ingredients do, and in what direction they lean
a recipe.

Flour lends structure, while weakening the overall intensity of flavour and
drying out the result. Low-protein flour (pastry flour) will make a cake
considerably lighter and drier. High-protein flour will make it denser and
moister, and also more sturdy.

Sugar also contributes to structure, and will make the cake somewhat
chewier and more springy. It tends to lean a cake away from the crumbly
side and towards the gummy side. Obviously, it makes it sweeter. Brown
sugar will make a cake moister and deeper in flavour, and the darker the
sugar the stronger this effect. Liquid sugars will make for a very smooth
texture. You have to be careful with honey because enzyme reactions can
destroy the texture altogether - a real mess! The key point with honey is
not to overdo it.

Butter makes a cake denser and richer, as well as browning the outside.
It's key also to keeping a cake moist.

Vegetable shortening (e.g. Crisco) makes a cake much lighter and airier.
Cakes made with shortening almost never taste as rich as those made with
butter, and there's often a bit of a strange pastiness to them.

Liquid oils make a cake very tender indeed, and generally quite light. Some
oils (olive, hazelnut, sesame) have very strong flavours which you must use
with caution.

Eggs will make a cake lighter and puffier. Too few, however, and your cake
turns towards brownie, and ultimately to cookie. Yolks alone will make a
cake somewhat richer and more silken, whites alone will make a cake very
light and springy.

Chocolate makes a cake much denser and generally drier. It also makes the
texture smooth and silken. Cocoa, OTOH, will always make a cake drier and
crumblier, as well as lighter. Clearly, both will add intensity of flavour.
There are many variables here. Sweetened chocolate will add flavour in
proportion to its cocoa percentage - high-percentage chocolates at 70% will
add a lot of flavour, low-percentage at 50% will contribute much less.
Cocoa adds a lot of flavour whack for little addition, but will give a
harsher taste relative to chocolate and the cake will always taste of
cocoa, not chocolate. "Dutch-processed" cocoa, as well as chocolate, will
make any cake much darker, almost black, but paradoxically with a milder
flavour and a characteristic metallic twang. It's crucial to use the best
quality chocolate or cocoa you can find. Much "baking chocolate" - the
blocks that Bakers', Hershey's, and Nestle sell, is worthless and you
shouldn't use them at all. Don't believe that a good recipe will hide a bad
chocolate - it's rather the reverse: a bad chocolate can spoil a good
recipe. Better to get a quality brand like Ghirardelli, Callebaut, or
Guittard. Finally, chocolate chips will almost always make a cake drier and
leaning towards a cocoa texture, but without the powerful flavour cocoa
provides; rather, the flavour will be mild.

Most of the "white dairy" products, e.g. milk, cream, sour cream, etc. make
a cake very tender. Sometimes the acid in the cultured members such as
buttermilk, sour cream, and yogurt is necessary to react with leavening
agents like baking soda.

Cakes that use chemical leavening such as baking soda or baking powder will
be generally somewhat light, but rarely as light as those that use air-
leavening (generally, from beaten egg whites), which can be very light
indeed, if the volume of egg white is large. If there's neither beaten egg
white nor any kind of chemical leavening, the resulting cake will be very
dense (e.g. pound cake).

Now, on to method. As I just said, if a recipe calls for beaten egg whites,
it's usually going to be quite light. However, to some degree, this depends
on how much egg white there is. Really large volumes of egg white almost
always signal a very light, airy cake, but small volumes (such as, for
instance, 3 egg whites for 2 cups of flour) don't necessarily indicate
this. If the recipe calls for yolks to be beaten along with the whites,
then the cake will usually be considerably denser. Some recipes ask for
yolks to be beaten separately. This is for the lightest cakes of all,
especially the sponge-cake family which are all very low density.

If you beat sugar in with the whites, it stabilizes the mixture
considerably so that there will be less deflation, and a lighter cake, when
this mixture gets blended with everything else.

When egg whites are beaten, they are to be folded in (that is, you take a
spatula and lightly draw the other parts of the mix over the egg whites in
a scooping, sweeping motion). One question here concerns what is to be
folded into what. If the recipe asks that the whites be folded with melted
chocolate first, it'll be denser than one that folds flour in first. If
chocolate and flour are mixed together first, then the whole folded in, it
will be lightest of the 3. The key point: folding melted chocolate directly
into egg whites causes a lot of deflation. The more things dilute the
chocolate, the less deflation. Cocoa, by contrast, does not deflate egg
whites.

Most recipes will ask you to cream the butter. If you don't cream butter,
cakes will usually be extremely dense, often leaden and brick-like. It's
not necessary to cream vegetable shortening. A very few recipes will call
for melted butter, usually in small amounts. As you discovered, this will
lean the texture towards that of a brownie.

Recipes that ask you to stir most of the ingredients together tend to
emphasize robust structure over tenderness or lightness. Ones that mix
things in carefully, in stages, and with different, sometimes seemingly
bizarre, specific methods of incorporation usually come out more tender and
lighter.

Higher oven temperatures, around 425F and above, generally emphasize
exteriour browning. They will make the cake drier on the outside, and
moister in the middle for a time, but then suddenly everything will dry out
completely. If the recipe starts at a high temperature but then decreases
it, the goal is often to set a crucial ingredient, usually eggs. If you
started such recipes at a lower temperature, they tend to lose volume, or
worse still, separate and become uneven (the usual result: a dense, greasy
buttery layer on the bottom, a light, dry, eggy layer on top) Also, high
temperatures create many more problems with cake "doming" - the effect
where the center rises much more than the edges.

Moderate oven temperatures, around 350F, usually allow for moist cakes with
a uniform texture throughout and a somewhat browned exteriour. The outside
will not usually be truly crisp, although it can be firm and a bit crusty.
These also can dry out if left in the oven too long. With chocolate,
there's a risk at this temperature that the chocolate will scorch, and you
must remove them before you smell anything that seems even slightly burnt.

Low oven temperatures, 325 and below, emphasize minimal doming and a tender
outside. Paradoxically, these can be very dry indeed because they require
long baking for the center to be done at all. If the cake is in a water-
bath while in the oven, this won't happen, but if not, it could well be
designed to be fairly dry. There's much less risk of chocolate scorching at
this temperature.

With all this in mind, I will "dissect" the above recipe. While this may
not be obvious without experience, the proportions of ingredients reveal
much of the secret - it's a cake absolutely *laden* with chocolate and
butter, while minimizing sugar and especially, flour. Clearly the objective
is to increase the chocolate proportion and decrease the flour proportion
as much as sanely possible, before you reach truly brownie-like
consistency. 2/3 cup of flour is a tiny amount, while 8 oz chocolate, for
that little flour, is extreme. The amount by itself isn't enough to be
conclusive - for instance, if it were 8 oz to 2 cups flour, that'd simply
be "typical", but when you see it at that ratio, it's clear that intensity
is the aim. Then you have the butter. 8 tbsp is already a lot, with those
amounts of flour and sugar, and when you add it to all that chocolate, the
direction this cake seems to be headed is towards a chocolate decadence.
Meanwhile, the number of eggs is merely that which one might find in a
"typical" butter cake - in other words, this isn't going to have sponge-
cake consistency, especially not with the levels of butter and chocolate.

Now you look at method. Unusually, the butter is to be melted. Again, it's
headed towards brownie territory. This recipe is starting to look more and
more like a chocolate decadence. And in a bizarre twist, you're melting
chocolate *in* water. The reason for this may not be clear, but I'll give
it to you: the idea is to add moisture to the cake, so that the high
chocolate proportion won't dry it out completely (extreme amounts of
chocolate risk making a cake very dry). So what's to stop this "cake" from
becoming a chocolate decadence? Reversing every other trend in the recipe,
the egg whites are to be beaten and folded in. Now this *is* a surprise.
It's rare that a recipe that's been headed denser, denser, denser, suddenly
does an about-face and goes...lighter. But here's where the larger vision
of the cake comes in to view - the objective was to densify the mix as much
as possible, up to a point where one does the most extreme thing possible
to lighten it, so that it doesn't end up as a bomb. The net result is that
the beaten egg whites lighten it just enough to keep it within the texture
range of "cake" rather than "brownie" or "decadence", while pushing the
proportions of everything to the limits of the possible. Baking at 350
keeps the uniform consistency (at this density, there aren't going to be
many problems with doming, either), so at the end you arrive at a very
moist, very chocolatey, very rich cake, perhaps as extreme as you can go.

What this recipe also illustrates is the unusual measures necessary to get
a chocolate cake that is both strongly chocolatey and quite moist, without
it becoming a brownie. The reason you have to resort to unorthodox tactics
is that the natural tendencies of the ingredients fight each other. The
problem is chocolate. In order to get lots of flavour, you have to add a
lot of chocolate. But this tends to dry out the cake. You can use cocoa,
but this only makes the drying problem worse if you do nothing else, and it
makes the cake taste of cocoa. You can increase the amount of butter to
offset the moistness problem, but this only exaggerates your density
problem. So to get around this, you use beaten egg whites, the most
powerful way of increasing volume and lightness.

I've tried a couple of cakes (chocolate pound cake, and the basic
chocolate cake recipe) in The Cake Bible, and they came out drier,
with a paler color than I would have liked. (As a side note, if you
accidentally melt the butter by adding the water/cocoa poweder mixture
while it's still hot in the basic cake recipe, it makes decent
brownies....).


As I hope I explained above, it's not surprising that most book recipes
come out this way, because there's a finite limit to how much chocolate you
can add to a "typical" or classic recipe before it becomes unacceptably dry
and/or dense. So the rich, moist chocolate cake requires a radical rethink
of the cake method altogether. Even expert pastry chefs have limits on
their time, creativity, and ingenuity, and they may stumble across a magic
formula, but generally it's going to take someone unusually obsessed with
chocolate to concoct a chocolate cake recipe that is really chocolatey and
really moist at the same time.

--
Alex Rast

(remove d., .7, not, and .NOSPAM to reply)


  #6 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 04-12-2003, 12:38 AM
Dee Randall
 
Posts: n/a
Default rich, moist chocolate cake

Thanks for the information on the
http://www.saffron.com/
page

I've bought saffron from Penzy's and needed some more and bought it at a
global market about a month ago and haven't used it yet, tho. After I got
home and looked at it more closely, it did have some "white" in it and I
didn't have Penzy's to compare it with, but I couldn't recall Penzy's
saffron having white it in at all.

I see that saffron's page sells Iranian (you call Persian?), which I've
heard is the best -- I don't know. I've only used Spanish. On the page,
which amount do you buy or recommend. I keep my in a closed jar in the
refrigerator.

thanks,
Dee





"H. W. Hans Kuntze" wrote in message
...
Dee Randall wrote:

Nothing ever has enough of a chocolate taste to me, so
[...]


Does anyone use "chocolate extract" often or have a track record with it -

I
'd be glad to hear any experience.

http://www.saffron.com/
But their Extract page is hard to find and is at.
http://www.theposter.com/extracts2.html

The brand is Golden Gate and i've been using them for years, excellent.
Shipping is free.
The extracts are extremely potent, use in moderation, especially the
butter pecan for Toll-House cookies.
IMHO much-much better than Pennzy's f.i. or the junk you find in
supermarkets.

BTW, their persian saffron is great too, best quality.

Although on Vanilla I use "La Vencadora" (hard to get, try Ebay)
straight from Mexico.
Some of the mexican vanilla is no good, "La Vencadora" is excellent.

--
Sincerly,

C=-) H. W. Hans Kuntze, CMC, S.g.K. (_o_)
http://www.cmcchef.com , chefATcmcchef.com
"Don't cry because it's over, Smile because it Happened"
_/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/


  #7 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 04-12-2003, 01:54 AM
Dee Randall
 
Posts: n/a
Default rich, moist chocolate cake

Thanks for your recipe. I think I may try it in a few days.
You are so knowledgeable about this, (after reading your information below)
that I feel I can ask you this question.

You recommended 70% bittersweet chocolate. I have in my pantry 62%
Scharffen Berger bittersweet pure dark chocolate, a 70% Scharffen Berger
bittersweet pure dark chocolate. And a 99% Scharffen Berger "unsweetened"
(doesn't say "bittersweet") pure dark chocolate. I should use as you
recommended the 70%?

I notice that you do not say unsalted or salted butter. Would it make a
difference in this recipe? I have both on hand. My salted butter is Amish,
and my unsalted is just typical from Costco.

I'm curious as to the "baking powder" or "baking soda," as I'm not quite
sure, having not made many cakes in my life, does this recipe not need a
baking powder or soda, but most cakes do?

I am going to use all-purpose flour in this recipe, as I don't use cake
flour because it is all bleached. I take it that the flour called for in
this recipe is all-purpose? I hope so. I prefer it to cake flour.

I'm glad your recipe didn't include chocolate chips.

Thanks for your extra comments with your recipe, I really appreciate them.

Dee





"Alex Rast" wrote in message
...
at Wed, 03 Dec 2003 21:52:56 GMT in
,
(Elitsirk) wrote :

I've been on a hunt for a rich, moist chocolate cake recipe. At
various restaurants, I've had rich, dark, moist cakes, but the closest
home version I can find is a Duncan Hines devils' food cake.

Does anyone have a from-scratch recipe?


This recipe is for the cake portion of "Chocolate Death", my ultimate
chocolate cake recipe that I posted some time back. It's hard to go wrong
with this one.

Chocolate cake

8 oz. 70%-type bittersweet chocolate (Guittard Bittersweet recommended)
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup flour
8 tbsp butter
4 eggs
1/3 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350F. Thoroughly grease and flour a 9" cake pan.
Separate the eggs into yolks and whites. Cut up the butter
and allow to soften a bit. Bring the water to a simmer, and in it melt the
chocolate over low heat (that's right - *in* the water). Remove from the
heat and stir in the egg yolks one at a time. Add the sugar and butter
and mix well. Once everything has melted, stir in the flour. Whip the egg
whites into stiff peaks and fold in. Pour into the prepared pan and bake

at
350F for 45-50 minutes, testing carefully to avoid scorching. Remove and
cool.

Or at least a guide for what
to look for in a chocolate cake recipe (i.e. cocoa vs chocolate,
presence/absence of things like sour cream, etc)?


Now, let me give a bit of a guide on identifying what to look for. I can
use the recipe above for examples.

The most important thing to bear in mind is that it's not a question of
which ingredients are in a recipe, or even how much of a main ingredient
there is, but rather of proportions and method. As a result, you have to
look at the relative amounts of ingredients instead of the absolute
amounts. This takes some experience and practice. It helps to have an
awareness of what different ingredients do, and in what direction they

lean
a recipe.

Flour lends structure, while weakening the overall intensity of flavour

and
drying out the result. Low-protein flour (pastry flour) will make a cake
considerably lighter and drier. High-protein flour will make it denser and
moister, and also more sturdy.

Sugar also contributes to structure, and will make the cake somewhat
chewier and more springy. It tends to lean a cake away from the crumbly
side and towards the gummy side. Obviously, it makes it sweeter. Brown
sugar will make a cake moister and deeper in flavour, and the darker the
sugar the stronger this effect. Liquid sugars will make for a very smooth
texture. You have to be careful with honey because enzyme reactions can
destroy the texture altogether - a real mess! The key point with honey is
not to overdo it.

Butter makes a cake denser and richer, as well as browning the outside.
It's key also to keeping a cake moist.

Vegetable shortening (e.g. Crisco) makes a cake much lighter and airier.
Cakes made with shortening almost never taste as rich as those made with
butter, and there's often a bit of a strange pastiness to them.

Liquid oils make a cake very tender indeed, and generally quite light.

Some
oils (olive, hazelnut, sesame) have very strong flavours which you must

use
with caution.

Eggs will make a cake lighter and puffier. Too few, however, and your cake
turns towards brownie, and ultimately to cookie. Yolks alone will make a
cake somewhat richer and more silken, whites alone will make a cake very
light and springy.

Chocolate makes a cake much denser and generally drier. It also makes the
texture smooth and silken. Cocoa, OTOH, will always make a cake drier and
crumblier, as well as lighter. Clearly, both will add intensity of

flavour.
There are many variables here. Sweetened chocolate will add flavour in
proportion to its cocoa percentage - high-percentage chocolates at 70%

will
add a lot of flavour, low-percentage at 50% will contribute much less.
Cocoa adds a lot of flavour whack for little addition, but will give a
harsher taste relative to chocolate and the cake will always taste of
cocoa, not chocolate. "Dutch-processed" cocoa, as well as chocolate, will
make any cake much darker, almost black, but paradoxically with a milder
flavour and a characteristic metallic twang. It's crucial to use the best
quality chocolate or cocoa you can find. Much "baking chocolate" - the
blocks that Bakers', Hershey's, and Nestle sell, is worthless and you
shouldn't use them at all. Don't believe that a good recipe will hide a

bad
chocolate - it's rather the reverse: a bad chocolate can spoil a good
recipe. Better to get a quality brand like Ghirardelli, Callebaut, or
Guittard. Finally, chocolate chips will almost always make a cake drier

and
leaning towards a cocoa texture, but without the powerful flavour cocoa
provides; rather, the flavour will be mild.

Most of the "white dairy" products, e.g. milk, cream, sour cream, etc.

make
a cake very tender. Sometimes the acid in the cultured members such as
buttermilk, sour cream, and yogurt is necessary to react with leavening
agents like baking soda.

Cakes that use chemical leavening such as baking soda or baking powder

will
be generally somewhat light, but rarely as light as those that use air-
leavening (generally, from beaten egg whites), which can be very light
indeed, if the volume of egg white is large. If there's neither beaten egg
white nor any kind of chemical leavening, the resulting cake will be very
dense (e.g. pound cake).

Now, on to method. As I just said, if a recipe calls for beaten egg

whites,
it's usually going to be quite light. However, to some degree, this

depends
on how much egg white there is. Really large volumes of egg white almost
always signal a very light, airy cake, but small volumes (such as, for
instance, 3 egg whites for 2 cups of flour) don't necessarily indicate
this. If the recipe calls for yolks to be beaten along with the whites,
then the cake will usually be considerably denser. Some recipes ask for
yolks to be beaten separately. This is for the lightest cakes of all,
especially the sponge-cake family which are all very low density.

If you beat sugar in with the whites, it stabilizes the mixture
considerably so that there will be less deflation, and a lighter cake,

when
this mixture gets blended with everything else.

When egg whites are beaten, they are to be folded in (that is, you take a
spatula and lightly draw the other parts of the mix over the egg whites in
a scooping, sweeping motion). One question here concerns what is to be
folded into what. If the recipe asks that the whites be folded with melted
chocolate first, it'll be denser than one that folds flour in first. If
chocolate and flour are mixed together first, then the whole folded in, it
will be lightest of the 3. The key point: folding melted chocolate

directly
into egg whites causes a lot of deflation. The more things dilute the
chocolate, the less deflation. Cocoa, by contrast, does not deflate egg
whites.

Most recipes will ask you to cream the butter. If you don't cream butter,
cakes will usually be extremely dense, often leaden and brick-like. It's
not necessary to cream vegetable shortening. A very few recipes will call
for melted butter, usually in small amounts. As you discovered, this will
lean the texture towards that of a brownie.

Recipes that ask you to stir most of the ingredients together tend to
emphasize robust structure over tenderness or lightness. Ones that mix
things in carefully, in stages, and with different, sometimes seemingly
bizarre, specific methods of incorporation usually come out more tender

and
lighter.

Higher oven temperatures, around 425F and above, generally emphasize
exteriour browning. They will make the cake drier on the outside, and
moister in the middle for a time, but then suddenly everything will dry

out
completely. If the recipe starts at a high temperature but then decreases
it, the goal is often to set a crucial ingredient, usually eggs. If you
started such recipes at a lower temperature, they tend to lose volume, or
worse still, separate and become uneven (the usual result: a dense, greasy
buttery layer on the bottom, a light, dry, eggy layer on top) Also, high
temperatures create many more problems with cake "doming" - the effect
where the center rises much more than the edges.

Moderate oven temperatures, around 350F, usually allow for moist cakes

with
a uniform texture throughout and a somewhat browned exteriour. The outside
will not usually be truly crisp, although it can be firm and a bit crusty.
These also can dry out if left in the oven too long. With chocolate,
there's a risk at this temperature that the chocolate will scorch, and you
must remove them before you smell anything that seems even slightly burnt.

Low oven temperatures, 325 and below, emphasize minimal doming and a

tender
outside. Paradoxically, these can be very dry indeed because they require
long baking for the center to be done at all. If the cake is in a water-
bath while in the oven, this won't happen, but if not, it could well be
designed to be fairly dry. There's much less risk of chocolate scorching

at
this temperature.

With all this in mind, I will "dissect" the above recipe. While this may
not be obvious without experience, the proportions of ingredients reveal
much of the secret - it's a cake absolutely *laden* with chocolate and
butter, while minimizing sugar and especially, flour. Clearly the

objective
is to increase the chocolate proportion and decrease the flour proportion
as much as sanely possible, before you reach truly brownie-like
consistency. 2/3 cup of flour is a tiny amount, while 8 oz chocolate, for
that little flour, is extreme. The amount by itself isn't enough to be
conclusive - for instance, if it were 8 oz to 2 cups flour, that'd simply
be "typical", but when you see it at that ratio, it's clear that intensity
is the aim. Then you have the butter. 8 tbsp is already a lot, with those
amounts of flour and sugar, and when you add it to all that chocolate, the
direction this cake seems to be headed is towards a chocolate decadence.
Meanwhile, the number of eggs is merely that which one might find in a
"typical" butter cake - in other words, this isn't going to have sponge-
cake consistency, especially not with the levels of butter and chocolate.

Now you look at method. Unusually, the butter is to be melted. Again, it's
headed towards brownie territory. This recipe is starting to look more and
more like a chocolate decadence. And in a bizarre twist, you're melting
chocolate *in* water. The reason for this may not be clear, but I'll give
it to you: the idea is to add moisture to the cake, so that the high
chocolate proportion won't dry it out completely (extreme amounts of
chocolate risk making a cake very dry). So what's to stop this "cake" from
becoming a chocolate decadence? Reversing every other trend in the recipe,
the egg whites are to be beaten and folded in. Now this *is* a surprise.
It's rare that a recipe that's been headed denser, denser, denser,

suddenly
does an about-face and goes...lighter. But here's where the larger vision
of the cake comes in to view - the objective was to densify the mix as

much
as possible, up to a point where one does the most extreme thing possible
to lighten it, so that it doesn't end up as a bomb. The net result is that
the beaten egg whites lighten it just enough to keep it within the texture
range of "cake" rather than "brownie" or "decadence", while pushing the
proportions of everything to the limits of the possible. Baking at 350
keeps the uniform consistency (at this density, there aren't going to be
many problems with doming, either), so at the end you arrive at a very
moist, very chocolatey, very rich cake, perhaps as extreme as you can go.

What this recipe also illustrates is the unusual measures necessary to get
a chocolate cake that is both strongly chocolatey and quite moist, without
it becoming a brownie. The reason you have to resort to unorthodox tactics
is that the natural tendencies of the ingredients fight each other. The
problem is chocolate. In order to get lots of flavour, you have to add a
lot of chocolate. But this tends to dry out the cake. You can use cocoa,
but this only makes the drying problem worse if you do nothing else, and

it
makes the cake taste of cocoa. You can increase the amount of butter to
offset the moistness problem, but this only exaggerates your density
problem. So to get around this, you use beaten egg whites, the most
powerful way of increasing volume and lightness.

I've tried a couple of cakes (chocolate pound cake, and the basic
chocolate cake recipe) in The Cake Bible, and they came out drier,
with a paler color than I would have liked. (As a side note, if you
accidentally melt the butter by adding the water/cocoa poweder mixture
while it's still hot in the basic cake recipe, it makes decent
brownies....).


As I hope I explained above, it's not surprising that most book recipes
come out this way, because there's a finite limit to how much chocolate

you
can add to a "typical" or classic recipe before it becomes unacceptably

dry
and/or dense. So the rich, moist chocolate cake requires a radical rethink
of the cake method altogether. Even expert pastry chefs have limits on
their time, creativity, and ingenuity, and they may stumble across a magic
formula, but generally it's going to take someone unusually obsessed with
chocolate to concoct a chocolate cake recipe that is really chocolatey and
really moist at the same time.

--
Alex Rast

(remove d., .7, not, and .NOSPAM to reply)



  #8 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 04-12-2003, 02:24 AM
H. W. Hans Kuntze
 
Posts: n/a
Default rich, moist chocolate cake

Dee Randall wrote:

I've bought saffron from Penzy's

I hope the gave you a jar of vaseline as bonus.

and needed some more and bought it at a
global market about a month ago and haven't used it yet, tho. After I g=

ot
home and looked at it more closely, it did have some "white" in it

That is common for the cheaper grades of Mancha.

[...]
I see that saffron's page sells Iranian (you call Persian?),

Yes. That is what it's been called since Methusala. Same with other=20
countries that were renamed. I like the old names better. Ceylon instead =

of Sri-Lanka, etc.

which I've
heard is the best -- I don't know.=20

It is Sargol, excellent. Best quality there is, comparable (or better=20
than) to Mancha Coupe or the best of the Kashmiri Saffron. The flavor=20
(Eugenol) is a little different than Mancha.

I've only used Spanish. On the page,
which amount do you buy or recommend.

Whatever you can use within a few month or you can keep it in the=20
freezer a long time.
And never ever buy saffron ground, too much monkey business with that one=
=2E

I keep my in a closed jar in the
refrigerator.

[...]

If it is airtight it should not pick up moisture or flavors.

As long/ or if you/ as you prefer spanish saffron, check out:
http://www.sfherb.com/
an ounce of select Mancha (good quality) goes for around $30 an ounce.
At Pennzy's they ask 4x as much for the same thing.
Their spices are nice, but way overpriced.
Or if you live on the east-coast(same company):
http://www.atlanticspice.com/

--=20
Sincerly,

C=3D=A6-)=A7 H. W. Hans Kuntze, CMC, S.g.K. (_o_)
http://www.cmcchef.com , chefATcmcchef.com
"Don't cry because it's over, Smile because it Happened"
_/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/=20

  #9 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 04-12-2003, 03:27 AM
Alex Rast
 
Posts: n/a
Default rich, moist chocolate cake

at Thu, 04 Dec 2003 01:54:29 GMT in ,
(Dee Randall) wrote :

Thanks for your recipe. I think I may try it in a few days.
You are so knowledgeable about this, (after reading your information
below) that I feel I can ask you this question.

You recommended 70% bittersweet chocolate. I have in my pantry 62%
Scharffen Berger bittersweet pure dark chocolate, a 70% Scharffen Berger
bittersweet pure dark chocolate. And a 99% Scharffen Berger
"unsweetened" (doesn't say "bittersweet") pure dark chocolate. I
should use as you recommended the 70%?


Can't resist a comment. IMHO it's unfortunate that you have Scharffen
Berger, because it's not particularly good, relative to other chocolates in
its class. They underroast, resulting in an aggressively fruity taste. Do
you like *extreme* fruitiness in your chocolate flavour? If so, you're
buying the right chocolate. Otherwise, use this up and then switch to
another brand.

As far as which to use of the 3, yes, the 70% would be the choice.

I notice that you do not say unsalted or salted butter. Would it make a
difference in this recipe? I have both on hand. My salted butter is
Amish, and my unsalted is just typical from Costco.


A slight difference at most. If your salted butter is higher-quality, use
that.

I'm curious as to the "baking powder" or "baking soda," as I'm not quite
sure, having not made many cakes in my life, does this recipe not need a
baking powder or soda, but most cakes do?


It doesn't need it because of the egg whites, which add all the leavening.
As I mentioned in my original reply, some recipes ask for chemical
leavening, others don't. The ones that don't generally either use air
leavening from egg whites, or remain very dense.

I am going to use all-purpose flour in this recipe, as I don't use cake
flour because it is all bleached. I take it that the flour called for
in this recipe is all-purpose? I hope so. I prefer it to cake flour.


*I* use pastry flour, but all-purpose will be fine. It'll be slightly
denser, but still within the acceptable range. Bread flour, however, will
make it too dense (It's that close to the borderline)


--
Alex Rast

(remove d., .7, not, and .NOSPAM to reply)
  #10 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 04-12-2003, 04:33 AM
Dee Randall
 
Posts: n/a
Default rich, moist chocolate cake

Thanks for the answers, but whut's up with the vaseline statement? Do you
mean because it's so hard to open? If so, possibly a strap wrench would be
in order.

I'll file your answers for future orders.
My appreciation,
Dee

"H. W. Hans Kuntze" wrote in message
...
Dee Randall wrote:

I've bought saffron from Penzy's

I hope the gave you a jar of vaseline as bonus.

and needed some more and bought it at a
global market about a month ago and haven't used it yet, tho. After I got
home and looked at it more closely, it did have some "white" in it

That is common for the cheaper grades of Mancha.

[...]
I see that saffron's page sells Iranian (you call Persian?),

Yes. That is what it's been called since Methusala. Same with other
countries that were renamed. I like the old names better. Ceylon instead
of Sri-Lanka, etc.

which I've
heard is the best -- I don't know.

It is Sargol, excellent. Best quality there is, comparable (or better
than) to Mancha Coupe or the best of the Kashmiri Saffron. The flavor
(Eugenol) is a little different than Mancha.

I've only used Spanish. On the page,
which amount do you buy or recommend.

Whatever you can use within a few month or you can keep it in the
freezer a long time.
And never ever buy saffron ground, too much monkey business with that one.

I keep my in a closed jar in the
refrigerator.

[...]

If it is airtight it should not pick up moisture or flavors.

As long/ or if you/ as you prefer spanish saffron, check out:
http://www.sfherb.com/
an ounce of select Mancha (good quality) goes for around $30 an ounce.
At Pennzy's they ask 4x as much for the same thing.
Their spices are nice, but way overpriced.
Or if you live on the east-coast(same company):
http://www.atlanticspice.com/

--
Sincerly,

C=-) H. W. Hans Kuntze, CMC, S.g.K. (_o_)
http://www.cmcchef.com , chefATcmcchef.com
"Don't cry because it's over, Smile because it Happened"
_/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/




  #11 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 04-12-2003, 04:40 AM
H. W. Hans Kuntze
 
Posts: n/a
Default rich, moist chocolate cake

Dee Randall wrote:

Thanks for the answers, but whut's up with the vaseline statement? Do y=

ou
mean because it's so hard to open?

Nope.

If so, possibly a strap wrench would be in order.

I don't think a strap wrench would help in this case, Dee. :-)

It has more to do with easing the pain of being taken advantage of.

Fair prices would help a great deal more.

But, more power to them.

--=20
Sincerly,

C=3D=A6-)=A7 H. W. Hans Kuntze, CMC, S.g.K. (_o_)
http://www.cmcchef.com , chefATcmcchef.com
"Don't cry because it's over, Smile because it Happened"
_/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/=20

  #12 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 04-12-2003, 04:50 AM
Dee Randall
 
Posts: n/a
Default rich, moist chocolate cake

You say,
it's unfortunate that you have Scharffen
Berger, because it's not particularly good, relative to other chocolates in
its class. They underroast, resulting in an aggressively fruity taste. Do
you like *extreme* fruitiness in your chocolate flavour? If so, you're
buying the right chocolate. Otherwise, use this up and then switch to
another brand.
***

Yes, come to think of it, a "fruitiness" now that I think back on using
half of the 99%, is the taste that I was wondering about. I was thinking
it was just to bitter for me (even tho I prefer dark chocolate for eating),
but I believe that is probably what it was.


I am open to suggestions for what is considered a good brand of chocolate
that you might recommend. I know that I love Ghiradelli chocolate ice cream
AT THEIR FACTORY, and I really like the Ghiradelli cocoa, and have bought a
number of brands of chocolate and cocoa from King Arthur over the years,
but these have all been bought without recommendation and I haven't really
learned anything from it - perhaps my chocolate taste buds aren't
sophisticated enough -- yet.

My appreciation,
Dee


"Alex Rast" wrote in message
...
at Thu, 04 Dec 2003 01:54:29 GMT in ,
(Dee Randall) wrote :

Thanks for your recipe. I think I may try it in a few days.
You are so knowledgeable about this, (after reading your information
below) that I feel I can ask you this question.

You recommended 70% bittersweet chocolate. I have in my pantry 62%
Scharffen Berger bittersweet pure dark chocolate, a 70% Scharffen Berger
bittersweet pure dark chocolate. And a 99% Scharffen Berger
"unsweetened" (doesn't say "bittersweet") pure dark chocolate. I
should use as you recommended the 70%?


Can't resist a comment. IMHO it's unfortunate that you have Scharffen
Berger, because it's not particularly good, relative to other chocolates

in
its class. They underroast, resulting in an aggressively fruity taste. Do
you like *extreme* fruitiness in your chocolate flavour? If so, you're
buying the right chocolate. Otherwise, use this up and then switch to
another brand.

As far as which to use of the 3, yes, the 70% would be the choice.

I notice that you do not say unsalted or salted butter. Would it make a
difference in this recipe? I have both on hand. My salted butter is
Amish, and my unsalted is just typical from Costco.


A slight difference at most. If your salted butter is higher-quality, use
that.

I'm curious as to the "baking powder" or "baking soda," as I'm not quite
sure, having not made many cakes in my life, does this recipe not need a
baking powder or soda, but most cakes do?


It doesn't need it because of the egg whites, which add all the leavening.
As I mentioned in my original reply, some recipes ask for chemical
leavening, others don't. The ones that don't generally either use air
leavening from egg whites, or remain very dense.

I am going to use all-purpose flour in this recipe, as I don't use cake
flour because it is all bleached. I take it that the flour called for
in this recipe is all-purpose? I hope so. I prefer it to cake flour.


*I* use pastry flour, but all-purpose will be fine. It'll be slightly
denser, but still within the acceptable range. Bread flour, however, will
make it too dense (It's that close to the borderline)


--
Alex Rast

(remove d., .7, not, and .NOSPAM to reply)



  #13 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 04-12-2003, 05:27 AM
Dee Randall
 
Posts: n/a
Default rich, moist chocolate cake

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!
That's a good one, Hans -- you got me on that one!
Dee

"H. W. Hans Kuntze" wrote in message
...
Dee Randall wrote:

Thanks for the answers, but whut's up with the vaseline statement? Do you
mean because it's so hard to open?

Nope.

If so, possibly a strap wrench would be in order.

I don't think a strap wrench would help in this case, Dee. :-)

It has more to do with easing the pain of being taken advantage of.

Fair prices would help a great deal more.

But, more power to them.

--
Sincerly,

C=-) H. W. Hans Kuntze, CMC, S.g.K. (_o_)
http://www.cmcchef.com , chefATcmcchef.com
"Don't cry because it's over, Smile because it Happened"
_/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/ _/


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