Cake and sponges

10.1 What is the flour-batter method of cakemaking?

The flour-batter method of cakemaking is based on two separate stages of air incorporation which are later combined before mixing is completed. It involves splitting the flour into two portions, the first to be creamed with the fats and the second portion retained to be mixed into the batter at a later stage. At the same time as the flour and fat are being mixed, the eggs and sugar are whisked together using a second machine to form a foam (as when making sponge cakes).

Typically the fats are creamed with an equal weight (or slightly less) of flour until a creamy mixture is obtained. About 400 g flour to 450 g fat (14 oz flour to 1 lb fat) is recommended. The egg is whisked with its own weight of sugar. This whisking need not be as thorough as for sponge cakes and aeration should not go too far or the cakes will be too light. About five or six minutes on second or fast speed with a planetary mixer is usually adequate. There is a greater possibility of getting a batter too light when using this method than when making cakes by the sugar-batter method (see 10.2) as in the latter case the presence of fat when the eggs are beaten in will prevent too much air being incorporated into the batter.

When the egg/sugar foam is ready it is added to the flour and fat batter while the machine is running at a moderate speed. The foam may be added in small portions - usually in four or five parts, each portion being beaten in before the next portion is added. Alternatively it may be run in as a continuous stream. When both batters are mixed any remaining flour can be mixed in, either by hand or at the slowest machine speed.

For fruited cakes the fruit is added when the flour is almost mixed in. Any minor ingredients such as essences or colours should be added to the fat and flour while beating. If milk is added then this should be done at the time of adding the second portion of flour. Where the weight of sugar is greater than the weight of eggs, the extra sugar should be dissolved in the milk along with colours and salt (if used). This gives a better distribution of the colour throughout the cake batter.

If glycerine is used in flour-batter cakes, this may be added either to the sponge or to the flour batter, usually the latter before the two are mixed together. When milk powder is used instead of liquid milk, the necessary quantity of powder is added along with the second portion of flour, while the necessary amount of moisture in the form of water is added and the batter is mixed as before.

This method enables the eggs to be added far more quickly and with far less possibility for curdling of the batter. In the sugar-batter method adding the eggs too quickly can result in curdling (see 10.15). Another advantage of this method is that by semi-foaming the eggs with the sugar, a more even texture is imparted to the cake. Since most of the flour has been creamed with the fats, there is relatively little of it to be amalgamated at the critical moment in cakemaking after all the eggs are in and so the potential for toughening of the batter by overworking is reduced.

Continue reading here: What is the sugarbatter method of cakemaking

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