So, I’ll admit that I don’t know a lot about baking. I’m learning.
When I read that a recipe produces a cake with a moist, tender crumb, I have no idea what is meant. I understand moist, but I don’t understand “tender crumb”. I know what I like in a cake, but I don’t always know how to describe it to others with words more complicated than “yummy”, “good”, “dry”, or “I threw the rest in the trash.”
These things I know:
Have ingredients at the appropriate temperature:
- Eggs should be around 80 degrees to provide maximum volume. In the winter I’m going to be doing well to keep them above 65 degrees since that’s room temperature in my house
- Butter should be between 60 and 70 degrees to best incorporate air when creamed with sugar.
- Ideal batter temperature is 90 degrees for sponge cakes and 70 degrees for butter-type cakes.
Cakes made with butter should be served at room temperature or they will be too firm. Cakes made with oil can be served directly from the refrigerator. So, if the icing needs refrigeration, the cake should be made with oil, not butter.
You can use almost anything to flavor butter cream, but the flavoring should not exceed 1/2 the total weight of butter.
If you are using Dutch process cocoa, which has been treated to decrease the acidity, you have to use baking powder instead of baking soda or your cake will not rise appropriately. Baking soda can be used if there is another acidic ingredient in the recipe, like buttermilk.